Aussies enter finals as top seeds

9th November, St. Petersburg: Both the Australian players, Jason Belmonte and Ann-Maree Putney head into the finals as top-seeds in the 43rd QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup after the end of the Top 8 quarterfinals on Friday.  It went down to the wire in both divisions and with the single position round match to go. Andres Gomez of Colombia was just 10 pins ahead of Canadian Michael Schmidt, vying for third place and of course they were playing each other. Gomez hit 234 while Schmidt could only manage a 179, so the coveted last spot in the TV finals went to the South American.

Over in the women's section, there was a similar situation though it was even closer. Sharon Koh of Malaysia, who was lying in second, Tina Hulsch of Germany in third and Sun Hee Lee of Korea in fourth, were all within 11 pins of each other, with Ann-Maree Putney out in front, but still only 38 clear of second placed Hulsch.

Putney hit a 235 against Sharon to confirm her top spot, while Hulsch and Sun played out a 216 draw, thus getting 15 bonus pins each and sending Sharon down to fourth place and out of the finals.

"We’re going to win it all. No question," said Australian coach Geoff Bowness after Belmonte and Putney won the top-seeded spots in the finals. No country has won both the men's and women's titles since 1986 when current Swedish competitor Peter Ljung took the title alongside Annette Hagre, but based on their performances so far, Belmonte and Putney could make Bowness’ dream come true.

Bowness has been Puney's coach for 16 years and has seen her win dozens of major titles. But Belmote has never had a coach, except for his father who taught him how to bowl. The burly, curly-haired Aussie is one of the few competitors in St. Petersburg who doesn't have a mentor here.

Belmonte, already far in the lead, added insult to injury when he fired a 300 in the 39th game. He wound up with a 40-game total of 9540, well ahead of America’s Bill Hoffman, who had 9352. Andres Gomez of Colombia took the third spot with 9008.

The women's race was much closer. Putney posted a 40-game total of 8745. The other women's finalists was Germany's Tina Hulsch and Korea's Sun Hee Lee. "She's terribly disappointed," said Sidney Tung of the Malaysian Tenpin Bowling Congress, "but that's bowling."

The top three scorers in both divisions advance to Saturday's televised finals. The third seeded bowler will bowled a best-of-three match with No. 2 to decide the opponent against the top seed in the title match.

Detailed scores: Men's Top 8 | Women's Top 8 | Photo Album.