LAS VEGAS – AJ Johnson, who is still trying to break through after switching from Storm to Ebonite at the start of the year, moved into the lead after two rounds of qualifying Thursday at the 2019 United States Bowling Congress Masters.
Johnson has a 10-game total of 2,328, a 232.80 average, with one round of qualifying remaining at the Gold Coast Casino and Hotel.
After Friday’s final five-game round of qualifying, the 450-player field will be cut to the top 63 plus defending champion Andrew Anderson for the match-play bracket. All rounds leading up to Monday’s televised finals are being broadcast live exclusively on FloBowling.
Johnson shot more than 100 pins better Thursday in the second round than he had in the first round. He opened the tournament with 1,113 and then shot 1,215 on Thursday.
A rising star on the PBA Tour, Johnson is still seeking his first career tour title. So far this season, his best finish has been 10th at the Mark Roth-Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship. His best singles performance was 17th at the PBA Jonesboro Open.
Two-handed 16-year-old lefty Solomon Salama, the leader after the first round, dropped to second place with 2,314. Salama followed up his 1,184 in the first round with 1,130 on Thursday.
Japan’s Shota Kawazoe is third with 2,281, Jake Peters is fourth with 2,242 and Michael Machuga rounds out the top five with 2,217.
As defending champion, Anderson is guaranteed a spot in the 64-player match-play bracket on Saturday and is bowling qualifying this week to try and earn the best seed he can. After two rounds, Anderson is currently sitting outside the top 64 and if he stays in that position, he would take the No. 64 seed for match play.