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Published On: Wed, Nov 29th, 2017

Team USA, Korea win doubles at 2017 World Bowling Championships

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Results

LAS VEGAS –

Tommy Jones and Chris Barnes have been friends for decades and have combined for 25 appearances on Team USA, but they’d never had the opportunity to bowl doubles together while representing the United States in international competition.

The two were paired for the first time this week at the 2017 World Bowling Championships, and their doubles debut concluded Tuesday with Team USA’s first gold medals at the South Point Bowling Plaza.

Barnes (218) and Jones (202) topped Hong Kong’s Lau Kwun Ho (205) and Eric Tseng (204) in the men’s final, 420-409, while Korea’s Kim Moon Jeong (232) and Jung Dawun (222) downed top-seeded Sin Li Jane (207) and Shalin Zulkifli (190) of Malaysia, 454-397, in the women’s finale.

Three consecutive strikes from Barnes, starting in the fourth frame, gave the United States a narrow lead at the halfway point of the match, and a clutch conversion of the 1-2-4-6-10 washout from Jones in the eighth frame kept the momentum in Team USA’s favor.

“We were able to keep the pressure on them, especially with it being their first go at it,” said Barnes, who teamed with John Szczerbinski to claim the doubles gold medal at the 2013 World Championships in nearby Henderson, Nevada. “That’s probably where our experience comes into play, since we’ve bowled those matches before. You want to control the tempo if you can and make it as intense as possible because it’s not a familiar situation for that many people.”

Barnes and Jones shared the experience of winning team gold medals together at the World Championships in 2008 and 2010, but Team USA left the 2014 tournament in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, without a gold medal.

This time, they’re sharing the stage with Marshall Kent, who joined them in Abu Dhabi, and a trio of adult World Championships first-timers – Jakob Butturff, AJ Johnson and Chris Via. The team did not medal in singles earlier this week.

“Obviously, anytime you get to win for Team USA, it means a lot, and being able to win with one of my best friends makes it even more special,” Jones said. “It’s also really nice to get this gold medal early in the tournament to show the younger guys what it’s all about and what it means to us and hopefully spark something for later in the week. We’re here for one key thing, which is to win the team event, and it’s nice to have that momentum.”

Tuesday’s doubles win was the sixth World Championships gold medal for Barnes, who won Masters in 2010 and all-events in 2013 to complement his two team titles and previous doubles victory.

While each win is special, there’s the reality that future opportunities may be limited.

“They all mean a lot, but obviously, I know I don’t have many more chances, since I’m closer to the end of my career than the beginning,” Barnes said. “I enjoyed the opportunity to get to bowl with one of my best friends from the (Professional Bowlers Association) Tour over the years, and I feel today was a little more of a team effort. Yesterday was pretty much just Tommy dragging me there, but it was great to throw some great shots at the end to help him win the gold medal he kind of earned yesterday.”

In the women’s title match, Jung and Kim struck just three times in the first five frames, but a late flurry of strikes lifted them past Sin and Zulkifli.

Jung, the Masters gold medalist at the 2015 World Women’s Championships in Abu Dhabi, struck on four of her last five offerings Tuesday, and Kim threw strikes on six of her final seven shots.

2017WorldChampsDoublesUSAWomenForWeb250x140The Koreans made their way to the gold-medal match with a 427-414 win over defending champions Danielle McEwan (212) and Kelly Kulick (202). Kulick closed the match with back-to-back open frames.

“We were able to match up really well and control the pocket during qualifying to pace along with the rest of the field and earn a spot in the semifinals,” Kulick said. “In the semifinals, I didn’t feel the 2-4-10 I left in the ninth frame was a bad shot, and the one in the 10th pushed right even further. I’m disappointed, obviously, because I had a chance to keep us in it with three in the 10th, but I’m learning from this, so that in trios and team, I can step up when we need it.”

The Malaysians topped a split-plagued Shannon O’Keefe (182) and Josie Barnes (152) of the United States, 363-334, to earn their meeting with Korea. Sin shot 204 in the win, and Zulkifli contributed 159. The Team USA duo combined for four splits in the first three frames and could not recover.

Four consecutive strikes from Jones in frames three through six helped him and Barnes pull away from Finland’s Petteri Salonen (213) and Niko Oksanen (159) in the men’s semifinals, despite Jones not striking again the rest of the way. Barnes (213) and Jones (202) won the match, 415-372.

Hong Kong’s victory over Japan’s Takuya Miyazawa and Shota Kouki came down to the final frame, and Tseng’s strike on his first shot was enough to secure their place in the championship bout by a final margin of 415-405. Lau finished with 211 and Tseng had 204, while Miyazawa and Kouki had 216 and 189, respectively.

Competition resumes Wednesday with three squads of trios, getting underway at noon Eastern.

All competitors will bowl three games Wednesday and return for three additional games Thursday, before the field is cut to the top four men’s teams and top four women’s teams for the semifinals.

The men’s and women’s semifinals will take place simultaneously Sunday, beginning at 12:30 p.m. Eastern.

The 2017 World Championships will run until Dec. 4. The final two days of competition will be broadcast live on the Olympic Channel to a worldwide audience.

This year’s tournament is a combined men’s and women’s event, which happens every four years.

The 2013 World Championships at nearby Sunset Station in Henderson, Nevada, also was a combined event.

The field includes 213 men from 36 countries and 176 women from 30 countries.

Countries participating this year in Las Vegas include: Aruba, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, England, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, United States, Ukraine, Venezuela and Wales.

For more information on the 2017 World Championships, visit 2017wc.worldbowling.org.

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