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2000 Champion Robert Smith Leads US Open After First Round

Robert Smith of Columbus, Ohio, rolled into the first round lead in the 67th Lumber Liquidators U.S. Open at Woodland Bowl Tuesday, averaging 232.67 for his first six games to take a 16-pin lead over Australia’s two-handed star, Jason Belmonte.

Smith, a 36-year-old 13-year PBA Tour veteran, has won seven PBA Tour titles, including the 2000 U.S. Open.

“This is by far my favorite tournament,” he said. “You go into this event knowing you can’t give away the headpin. You’re going to have your good games and your bad games, but you can’t give anything away. It calls for a different mindset.

“I fell into something today, and I basically had two pockets – the 1-3 and the Brooklyn side. It was a good day.”
Smith, one of the strongest players ever to compete on the PBA Tour, has admittedly had an up-and-down career, partly due to injuries caused by his power game. After 13 years of wear-and-tear, he is forcing himself to adapt.

“I feel healthy for the first time in awhile,” he said, “but my game has changed. I’m not the gorilla I thought I was once upon a time. Mentally, I still am, but physically, no. I can’t do what I used to do. I’m learning to deal with it.”

Smith led the field of 352 players with a 1,396 pinfall total. Belmonte, in his first full year as a PBA Tour competitor after winning the Bowling Foundation Long Island Open a year ago, was second with 1,380 pins. Third was Jack Jurek of Lackawanna, N.Y., who won the PBA Shark Championship earlier in the season in Detroit, with 1,374 pins followed by defending U.S. Open champion Mike Scroggins of Amarillo, Texas, at 1,352 and Parker Bohn III of Jackson, N.J., with 1,350 pins.

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