NORTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. • St. Louisan Pete Weber has done what no one else in the history of bowling's marquee event, not even his legendary dad, accomplished.
Weber beat three opponents Sunday to move from the lowest-seeded player in the four-man stepladder finals to winning the championship of the U.S. Open, the record fifth time he has won that crown. That broke a tie with his father, the late Dick Weber, and another iconic St. Louis bowler, Don Carter — who died recently.
"Dad, I know you were watching," Weber said as he looked upward as he became emotional shortly after burying a strike on his final ball in the 10th frame to nip top seed Mike Fagan 215-214. "I know you're proud, and I'm sorry I broke your record.''
But Weber, who scolded a fan multiple times through the afternoon for distracting him by moving when Weber was ready to release the ball, was calm and introspective afterward.
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"This is my greatest title ever," he said. "To win five U.S. Opens and pass Dick Weber and Don Carter says a lot, but I'll never say I'm better than them. They paved the way for us to be here. It was an honor and a privilege to join them when I won my fourth U.S. Open, and it's even more of an honor to be the first one to win five.''
Needing at least a nine-count spare and strike to win the title, Weber threw a perfect pocket shot on his first ball but left a 10 pin. After making the spare, he threw an identical shot that carried for a strike and the $60,000 payout for the title.
"That's probably the calmest I've ever been, needing to throw a shot to win," he said. "Not to toot my own horn, but I think I'm prouder of myself than anyone else. I've always wanted to be the one to throw a strike to win."
In the opening match of the day, Weber beat third seed Ryan Shafer 223-191, then came from behind again to stop No. 2 seed Jason Belmonte 225-213 before rallying past Fagan, who receives $30,500 for being the runner-up.
"The way those guys performed was excellent,'' Weber said. "My hat's off to them. They bowled amazing.''
Weber, 49, became the oldest U.S. Open champion. Norm Duke had set the mark when he won last year at age 46. And it was Weber's ninth title in a Professional Bowlers Association major tournament, behind only Earl Anthony's 10.