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Elmira's Shafer is top qualifier

Ryan Shafer of Elmira won five of his last eight matches and piled up 11,452 pins to lead the qualifiers Saturday for the final four of the 63rd U.S. Open at the Brunswick Zone Carolier.

Shafer defeated Tommy Jones, 213-170, in the 24th and final game of match play Saturday night to earn the top seed for today's televised finals (12:30 p.m., ESPN).

Shafer, who owns four career Denny's PBA Tour titles, will be looking for his first career major title. He has two career runner-up finishes in major events.

"I'm very happy with myself. I've had a lot of near misses in majors, so this means a lot to me," said Shafer, whose last title came in the 2003 Empire State Open.

Jones went into the position round leading Shafer by 58 pins, but the win gave Shafer 30 bonus pins and an automatic berth in the stepladder finals title match.

Jones, who has won seven tour titles in the last two seasons, will be looking for his first career major. He is making his first appearance in a major championship round.

Another New Yorker, Michael Fagan of Greenlawn, will be looking for his first career title. He earned the No. 3 seed by defeating Mike DeVaney in the final match, 216-167. Fagan will face Robert Smith, who earned the No. 4 seed with a win over Mike Machuga in the final match, 207-194. Smith will be looking for his second U.S. Open as he won in 2000.

The top four will bowl for the $100,000 top prize and a three-season exemption.

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