It wasn’t so much who it was doing it as it was where it was done.
For the first-time ever and one of the few times in North Carolina history, Mooresville’s Victory Lanes & Entertainment Center served as the host of the United States Open professional bowling championship.
Events and activities surrounding the weeklong festivities drew to a close in front of a nationally-televised audience courtesy of the on-site CBS Sports Network cameras. This was the conducting of the final stepladder process to crown this year’s champion in what was also the fifth and final major of the 2019 Professional Bowlers Association Tour season.
Officially, the facility joined forces with the Mooresville Convention & Visitors Bureau to fill the roles of co-hosts.
For the record, Canada’s Francois Lavoie captured his second career coveted green jacket that is traditionally awarded to the survivor of the grueling and grinding competition staged over five days and constituting in the neighborhood of 60 games per bowler rolled in numerous lanes-oiling patterns.
The 26-year-old winner, a former Rookie of the Year, defeated 14-time PBA Tour champion and top-seeded Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., 221-172 to emerge as the 12 bowler in history to win the prestigious title multiple times. Lavoie also claimed the prize in 2016 to help earmark his first-year recognition.
The most recent U.S. Open ace earned his fourth PBA Tour title and made him the first foreign-born player to snare the crown more than once.
In addition to being presented at mid-lane with his second matching piece of prize wardrobe along with a treasured champion’s trophy that also adorns the name of the event’s host site engraved on the front, Lavoie also was presented with the tournament first-place prize money of $30,000. That ranks at the largest such check ever presented at an event of such magnitude at the VL&EC facility.
“This is so surreal, and I don’t even know where to begin,” Lavoie said. “To win the first one was unbelievable and a dream come true. Winning the second one, wow. Especially with the way the season started, I never could’ve expected this. It’s not something you think will happen again, and definitely not this year of all years. I feel so fortunate.”
Lavoie started the final match with five consecutive strikes and cruised to the title.
It was much more of a difficult trek to get to that pinnacle point.
Following two days of pro-ams during which all entries in the field were also provided with some practice time on the first-time host lanes, all bowlers engaged in three daily rounds consisting of eight games each. All of that action took place on lanes with different oiling patterns in place.
Following that phase, the initial field of nearly 150 of the sport’s highest rollers was trimmed to the top 36 based on total pinfall to that point.
Those still standing then engaged in another eight-game round, after which the top 24 bowlers garnered advancement into two days of head-to-head match play.
From that field, the final five moved on into the one-on-one, one-game-at-a-time stepladder finals.
The U.S. Open is conducted jointly by United States Bowling Congress and the Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America.