What is the USBC Masters?
Considered the most prestigious tournament in bowling, the USBC Masters is an annual event where bowlers from across the country gather beneath the banner of the United State Bowling Congress to test their skills in 15 qualifying games, which then progress to a 64-player, double-elimination tournament, which determines the overall winner, who receives a large cash prize. Read on below to learn more about the USBC Masters, including a history of the event, how it works, and what the prizes are.
- Venue: Thunderbowl Lanes (changes yearly)
- Location: Allen Park, MI (changes yearly)
- Date: March 26, 2023 - April 2, 2023 (changes yearly)
- Organization: United States Bowling Congress (USBC)
- First Event: 1951
- 2022 Winner: Anthony Simonsen
- 2022 Prize: $100,000
The event that would become the USBC Masters first began in 1951, back when the USBC was the American Bowling Congress (ABC). From 1951 to 2005, the event was known as the ABC Masters, and started out as an event designed to showcase the talents of local and national bowlers. The format of the event, which will be explained below, has remained largely the same for the entire history of the event. Over the course of decades, the pool and prize amounts for the tournament have grown, with hundreds of players from across the country entering to qualify each year.
In 2005, the tournament was renamed the USBC Masters when the ABC merged with the Women’s International Bowling Congress (WIBC) and the Young American Bowling Alliance (YABA) to become the USBC. From 1951 to 2004, the tournament was held in the spring, before briefly moving to the fall from 2004 to 2008, and then back to the spring from 2008 onwards.
A few notable records have occurred at the USBC Masters over the years. Mike Aulby became the first bowler to win the tournament three times (1989, 1995, 1998). Jason Belmonte later bested Aulby’s record by winning four Masters, and also became the first bowler to win three Masters in a row (2013, 2014, 2015, 2017). The oldest player to win the USBC Masters, Walter Ray Williams Jr., was 50 when he won in 2010. The youngest player to win, Anthony Simonsen, was 19 when he won 2016.
The format of the USBC Masters consists of three parts: the Qualifying Round, Match Play, and the Match Play Finals. In the qualifying round, each bowler plays 15 games, divided into three blocks of five. Each player’s final scores are totaled up, and the top 63 players advance to the Match Play Tournament. The 64th spot is automatically reserved for the defending champion from the previous year.
If there is a tie for the final position in the top 63, those two bowlers play a tie-breaking game, which can itself be tie-broken by a one-ball roll-off if it also ends in a tie. For ties anywhere above the last position in the top 63, they are broken by the following criteria: highest qualifying block, next-highest qualifying block(s) total, highest game of qualifying, next-highest qualifying game(s). If the defending champion cannot accept the 64th spot due to injury or other impediments, the bowler in the 64th qualifying spot takes their place.
After the 64 qualifiers are determined, match play begins. The match play tournament is double-elimination, and matches may be either televised or non-televised. Non-televised matches consist of three games, while televised matches consist of one game. In each case, the highest pin total determines the winner, and one-ball roll-offs are used to break ties. Players are eliminated after two losses, starting off in the Winners Bracket and moving to the Elimination Bracket after their first loss. In all matches, the bowler in the odd lane bowls first. There are various rules for forfeiture and non-participation.
The Match Play Finals occur once the match play field is reduced to eight players, seven from the Elimination Bracket and one from the Winners Bracket. All Match Play Finals contests are televised, and consist of single games, with one-ball roll-offs to break ties. The winner of the championship match wins the tournament and receives the top prize.
Awards and Prizes
The prize pool for the USBC Masters has grown over the years, but in the most recent event, held in 2022, the prize breakdown was as follows:
- First Place: $100,000
- Second Place: $50,000
- Third Place: $25,000
- Fourth Place: $15,000
- Fifth Place: $10,000
- Sixth Place: $7,500
- Places 7-8: $5,775
- Places 9-12: $4,275
- Places 13-16: $3,200
- Places 17-24: $2,600
- Places 25-32: $2,300
- Places 33-48: $2,100
- Places 49-64: $2,000
Bowlers who finish lower than 64th place can also receive some winnings, ranging from around $600-$1,750.
What is the USBC Masters Tournament?
The USBC Masters is an annual bowling tournament held in the spring of each year, in which 64 bowlers compete in a double-elimination tournament after completing 15 qualifying games. The tournament is held in a different location every year, and consists of two brackets, a Winners Bracket and an Elimination Bracket, to account for the double-elimination format. The winner of the tournament receives a large cash prize.
Who has won the most USBC Masters Tournaments?
Jason Belmonte has won the most USBC Masters tournaments, with four USBC Masters wins. Belmonte is an Australian-born bowler, and won his four USBC Masters in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2017. He also became the first bowler to win three consecutive USBC Masters. By winning his fourth Masters in 2017, Belmonte bested Mike Aulby’s record of three Masters wins, which had been set in 1998.
How much money does the winner of the USBC Masters receive?
The winner of the USBC Masters receives a cash prize which amounted to $100,000 in 2022. In past years, the prize has been lower, but it has increased up until the present day, and may very well continue to increase in the future. The winner of the 2022 USBC Masters and the recipient of its $100,000 prize was Anthony Simonsen of Las Vegas, NV.