By Lucas Wiseman
WATCH:Semifinals | Finals | Medal ceremony
MUNICH, Germany -In what has become one of international bowling's biggest rivalries, the United States topped Korea for the singles gold medal Saturday night at the 2010 World Tenpin Bowling Association World Men's Championships.
Team USA's Bill O'Neill defeated Korea's Choi Bok-Eum, 244-202, in the one-game gold-medal match at Dream Bowl Palace. England's Dominic Barrett and Team USA's Chris Barnes shared the bronze medal after falling in the semifinals.
It was the latest clash between the two world bowling powers, which have met for medals in men's events, women's events and youth events around the world over the past few years. And it was Team USA coming out on top in the opening event of this edition of the World Men's Championships.
"Hearing the national anthem play in another country after winning the gold medal is something you can't describe," said O'Neill, who won two titles on the Lumber Liquidators Professional Bowlers Association Tour last season. "It's hard to get too hyped up about it, though, because it was in singles. It would be an even more emotional experience with my other teammates up there with me. Hopefully, we get a chance to do that this week."
In the title match, O'Neill started strong with three consecutive strikes, a spare and five more strikes. By the time six frames were in the books, O'Neill had amassed a 44-pin lead and rolled to the title.
O'Neill entered the semifinals as the fourth seed after six games of qualifying earlier Saturday. He defeated top seed Barrett, 187-170, in the semifinals to advance to the gold-medal match.
"This feels pretty good because I think I was pretty fortunate to even be in the top four," said O'Neill, who advanced to the semifinals by a slim four-pin margin over Sayed Ibrahim Al Hashemi of the United Arab Emirates. "I had a tough semifinals match, and in the championship match I moved to the right 10 boards, played straighter and it worked out."
In the other semifinal, Barnes, the third seed, lost to No. 2 Choi, 217-191, after a devastating split in the eighth frame. Barnes, who said he never quite managed to figure out the right lane, left the 3-6-7-10 split in the eighth frame on that lane and never recovered against Choi.
"He had the better ball reaction by a lot and sometimes that just happens," said Barnes, who shot the tournament's second 300 game in qualifying. "I expected this pattern to be my weakest, so to come out here and get a medal is pretty satisfying."
The attention now shifts to the doubles event, which begins with the first three of five qualifying squads on Sunday.
Team USA left-handers Patrick Allen and Rhino Page, the defending world doubles champions, will team up on the opening squad. Barnes and O'Neill pair up for Sunday's final squad, while Tommy Jones and Wes Malott will compete together on the second squad Monday.
BowlingDigital.com will provide live streaming of the semifinals and finals of each event and coverage can also be viewed live on BOWL.com. The doubles semifinals and final are scheduled to begin on Monday at Noon Eastern.
The 2010 WTBA World Men's Championships features 356 competitors from 65 countries competing for medals in six events - five-player team, trios, doubles, singles, all-events and Masters match play.
2010 WTBA WORLD MEN'S CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Dream Bowl Palace, Munich, Germany
(Winner earns gold, loser gets silver)
(4) Bill O'Neill, United States def. (2) Choi Bok-Eum, Korea, 244-202
(Winners advance, losers tie for bronze)
(4) Bill O'Neill, United States def. (1) Dominic Barrett, England, 187-170
(2) Choi Bok-Eum, Korea def. (3) Chris Barnes, United States, 217-191
(Top 10, six games)
1, Dominic Barrett, England, 1,395. 2, Choi Bok-Eum, Korea, 1,392. 3, Chris Barnes, United States, 1,375. 4, Bill O'Neill, United States, 1,372. 5, Sayed Ibrahim Al Hashemi, United Arab Emirates, 1,368. 6, Pasi Uotila, Finland, 1,357. 7, Ernesto Franco, Mexico, 1,353. 8, Jesper Agerbo, Denmark, 1,349. 9, Nobuhito Fujii, Japan, 1,347. 10, Jang Dong-Chul, Korea, 1,346.