Vegas win boosts Australian’s bid to claim title in Malaysian Open

PETALING JAYA: Bowler Jason Belmonte bade farewell to the junior scene in style when he bagged the Milo International All-Stars title at the Pyramid Mega Lanes in Sunway last December. 

And the Australian, who has a unique style of bowling, is eyeing to do the same in the Malaysian International Open at the same venue this weekend. 

Eyeing a repeat: Jason Belmonte with the Milo International All-Stars trophy last year. He hopes hisluck will hold in the Malaysian International Open this week.

Qualifying for foreign bowlers began on Monday and will end tonight. Yesterday, Belmonte assured himself of a place in the 36-bowler men's Masters Open Finals after chalking a score of 939, which puts him in fourth position in the overseas pool. 

The 23-year-old has yet to win the Malaysian Open title. Buoyed by his victory in the High Rollers tournament in Las Vegas last month, Belmonte is looking to succeed this time. 

“The High Rollers are one of the hardest tournaments to win,” said Belmonte. 

“You are not just competing head-on against the best bowlers in the world but you need to have good breaks as well at the expense of your rivals.” 

Belmonte makes the delivery of the ball with both hands and two fingers in the holes, giving him the advantage of producing greater spin. 

“My parents own a bowling centre back in my hometown in Orange, which is about four hours drive from Sydney. Instead of taking me to day care centre, I was left to play with the balls since I was only 18 months old,” he said. 

“The lightest ball was 10 pounds and when I grew up, I continued to use the same grip because I have got so used to it. I still continued to bowl well and I have not changed it at all.” 

Doing well in an overseas tournament is not just his sporting aim but also a means to sustenance. 

Belmonte said that bowling in Australia only get minimal funding unlike sports like cricket and swimming. 

“I have been lucky to be able to come up and be able to compete overseas because I did well in the first few events,” said the former World Youth Championships gold medallist. 

“There are many guys back home who would also like to do so but they cannot afford to because they will have to quit their jobs. Malaysian bowlers are certainly lucky because they get good funding and support from the authorities. 

“For me, I have to do well in each tournament for financial reasons. The prize money I win will fund things like air tickets and accommodation.” 

Belmonte certainly does not need any bigger incentive to well in the Malaysian Open. In conjunction with the 30th edition of the Open, the prize money has been substantially increased and the men's title comes with a purse of US$25,000 (RM87,500). 

It is also the biggest purse given out for a bowling tournament in Asia thus far. 

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