Monacelli joins elite club with repeat tourney win

When Amleto Monacelli let loose of the ball in the ninth frame, he thought he had just bowled a tournament-winning strike.

The 10 pin, however, stood stubbornly still.

That left an opening for Ron Mohr, who experienced the same feeling to open the 10th frame, a sure strike to clinch one of the senior tour’s two majors.

And, as with Monacelli, the 10 pin refused to budge.

Monacelli then closed it out, emerging with a 199-193 victory Friday to win the Suncoast PBA Senior U.S. Open at the Suncoast Bowling Center.

This was Monacelli’s second consecutive Senior U.S. Open victory, joining Wayne Webb and Tom Baker as the lone two-time champions. Monacelli, last season’s senior Rookie of the Year and former two-time PBA Player of the Year, also leads the PBA50 season standings.

But this had been a frustrating season. Monacelli appeared to be the best bowler in other tournaments, only to finish second twice. Then the 51-year-old Venezuelan qualified first at the Suncoast and this time won his only match in the stepladder finals to take the title and $14,000 first-prize check. Mohr earned $7,500.

“Four weeks in a row that I led the tournament and I hadn’t won,” Monacelli said. “It’s nice to win the U.S. Open again.”

The man Monacelli defeated, the 57-year-old Mohr, won the 2011 Senior U.S. Open and was the elder tour’s Player of the Year, his second in three years.

The year he won the title was emotional for many reasons for Mohr, who in January 2011 lost his wife, Linda. She died at age 50 after complications with what was supposed to be a routine knee surgery seven months earlier.

“In 2011, I didn’t know if I was going to come back or not,” Mohr said. “I needed the therapy. I needed to get away because it was such a traumatic thing. And in 2011, I had one of the best seasons ever in the history of senior professional bowling, but it was just because she was right there (on his shoulder). I had so many breaks, it just got ridiculous.

“I know she’s still there. I know she’s still helping me out. She knows this is what I should be doing.”

He said his girlfriend, Lita Lewis, has helped him move forward. They are in the process of moving to Las Vegas from Eagle River, Alaska, with Lewis handling the details, including the sale of the house and the lengthy drive, while Mohr concentrated on the tour.

“She handled everything,” Mohr said. “She was such a trooper. She said, ‘Just go bowl.’ ”

To get to the final, Mohr dispatched Las Vegan Eric Forkel, 218-184.

Forkel competed on the PBA Tour from 1992 to 2006, winning five times. He isn’t a regular member of the senior tour but is at a crossroads after losing his job about a year ago at Red Rock Casino Resort. Forkel operated the bowling pro shop before Red Rock leased out the position.

He has worked “odd jobs” here and there but hasn’t found full-time work. Forkel hopes to get more involved in bowling again, perhaps on the manufacturers’ side, and maybe this promising tournament showing will help get his name back out.

In the meantime, the $5,500 check he receives for finishing third comes in handy.

“That will pay a few bills,” the 52-year-old Forkel said.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.

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