The basketball court isn’t the only place where three-peats are attempted.
For Amleto Monacelli, the bowling alley also serves as the point for a three-peat as Monacelli looks to win his third straight PBA Senior U.S. Open title when play begins today at the Suncoast. The 52-year-old Hall of Fame bowler from Venezuela, who still competes on the regular PBA Tour, has won the last two U.S. Opens and will look to be the first to win three in a row.
“It’s very difficult to win this tournament,” Monacelli said after Sunday’s practice round. “You have to be mentally tough and stay focused.”
The U.S. Open is almost a marathon. There are 50 games of qualifying and match play just to get in position to make the stepladder finals. There are two sessions today through Wednesday at 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Thursday’s final qualifying round starts at 7 a.m. with match play at 2 p.m. The finals are at 4 p.m. Friday. Admission is free to all sessions.
That’s a lot of strikes and spares. But Monacelli said he prefers the longer formats.
“It gives you time to settle in and if you throw the ball really good and are patient, you can have success,” he said.
Monacelli remembers starting out throwing a rubber bowling ball. And like many professionals, he had to deal with the constant technology the sport has undergone over the past four decades.
“It was tough for me because I rely so much on feel,” Monacelli said of his reluctance to embrace change right away. “It took me a long time to adjust. Especially when they had the resin ball. But I learned and I adapted.”
He has adapted well enough to win more than $2 million, and though first place this week is worth only $15,000, Monacelli said the chance to be the first to three-peat is bigger than the check that would come with the feat.
“It’s something nobody has done before,” said Monacelli, one of three bowlers to win multiple U.S. Open titles (Wayne Webb and Tom Baker are the others). “That’s giving me great incentive.”
Physically, Monacelli claims he’s ready. He keeps in shape thanks to a weight and strength training regimen he has used for the last 10 years, coupled with a sensible diet. He doesn’t smoke or drink and he’ll run between four to eight miles four times a week, depending on the time of the year.
“I’m a former soccer player so I know how important it is to be in shape,” he said. “I train like an athlete. I do a lot of stretching. I lift weights. I try to take care of my body.”
It’s what allows Monacelli to compete against guys old enough to be his son. This week, he’s on a more level playing field from an age standpoint. And he’s happy about that.
“It’s great to be with these guys,” he said of the approximately 190 senior bowlers, including 25 from Southern Nevada, who are competing this week. “It’s like 1982 again.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.