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Jones tops Tour on way to Buffalo

Now it's on to Buffalo.

Tommy Jones leaped to the front of the line in the race for the 2006 PBA Player of the Year award after winning the 63rd U.S. Open Sunday at Brunswick Zone Carolier.

Next stop for the Denny's PBA Tour is the GEICO Open, which opens Wednesday at AMF Thruway Lanes in Cheektowaga.

Jones, who leads the Tour with four victories this season, defeated top-seeded Ryan Shafer of Elmira in the title match, 237-223, clinching the $100,000 top prize and securing a three-year tour exemption through the 2008-09 season.

"You go out and do your best at every tournament. You want to have the chance to win. That's what you bowl for," said Jones, the No. 2 seed who converted a 4-pin in the 10th frame to capture his eighth Tour win over the last two seasons, and his first career major.

Shafer, who finished second in a major for the third time in his career, applied pressure late by striking in frames 7-9, but it wasn't enough.

Jones, of Simpsonville, S.C., dispatched Long Islander Michael Fagan, the No. 4 seed, in the semifinal, 231-226. Jones struck in frames 6-9 to help seal the win after opening on a 1-2-4-10 split in the fifth.

In the first stepladder match, Fagan defeated Robert Smith, 216-214. Smith was looking for his second career U.S. Open title. Fagan converted the 6-7-10 split to start the 10th then followed with an eight count. Smith, a six-time Tour title winner, needed to strike to start his 10th, but instead left the 3-6-10.

Shafer earned $50,000 for his second-place finish while Fagan, from Greenlawn, earned $25,000 for third. Smith, of Thousand Oaks, Calif., took home $15,000 for fourth. Jones is the first bowler other than the top seed to win the U.S. Open since Dave Husted won in 1996 as the No. 3 seed.

The GEICO Classic will get underway with the qualifier for nonexempt players on Wednesday. Bowling for the field of 64 will start on Thursday. The televised (ESPN) finals will be next Sunday at 12:30 p.m. with the winner taking home the $40,000 top prize and a exemption for next season.

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