Belmonte Beats Simonsen to Win Third Consecutive PBA World Championship Title
LAS VEGAS – In a match-up between two of the Go Bowling PBA Tour’s premier two-handed players, Australian Jason Belmonte defeated Anthony Simonsen of Little Elm, Texas, 213-190, in the title match Sunday at the South Point Bowling Plaza to win his third consecutive PBA World Championship title while extending his all-time career-leading major win total to 13.
Bowling in front of an on-site finals audience that consisted of mainly PBA players, their family members and tournament officials held three days earlier than originally scheduled, Belmonte also notched his 24th career PBA Tour title to take home the $150,000 first prize.
The PBA modified plans for all of the Storm PBA World Series of Bowling XI finals telecasts in response to the coronavirus pandemic, moving the live FS1 World Championship telecast to Sunday from its original Wednesday (March 18) slot while also postponing all additional competition in the three animal pattern (lane condition) championships. However, the players were able to complete all 56 games of qualifying and match play for the World Championship last week to advance to the finals.
As the top seed for the finals, Belmonte also added to his ever-growing list of accomplishments in PBA majors joining Hall of Famer Earl Anthony as the only players to win three consecutive World Championship titles. Anthony did it twice when the event was called the PBA National Championship (’73, ’74, ’75 and ’81, ’82 and 83). Belmonte, the five-time and reigning PBA Player of the Year, was also making a record fifth consecutive major telecast appearance and eight of the last nine.
What made the win extra special for Belmonte was that he won in front of his entire family for the first time.
“It was everything to have my family here to see this,” said the 36-year-old Australian, whose wife Kimberly, son Hugo, and daughters Sylvie and Aria were in attendance to witness the victory. “They were a calming influence when I wasn’t doing well and a great support structure overall. It was a dream to have them here to see this.”
It was also Belmonte’s second consecutive major title this season after winning the U.S. Open on Feb. 23 to join PBA Hall of Famer Mike Aulby as the only players to complete the PBA Tour’s Super Slam, which is a title in all five PBA majors (PBA Tournament of Champions, U.S. Open, PBA Players Championship, USBC Masters and PBA World Championship). It was in the 2019 World Championship that Belmonte won his 11th major to surpass Hall of Famers Pete Weber and Anthony on the all-time major titles list.
In the title match, the 23-year-old Simonsen, trying to become the youngest player to win three majors, got off to a bad start with two opens after leaving difficult splits. Belmonte was able to take advantage by stringing strikes from the third through seventh frames which gave him enough of a cushion to win the match.
“Going into the match it was all going to be about speed control,” Belmonte said. “Keeping it slow and getting a good consistent release was the key. Anytime you can keep striking, keep a big lead and your opponent believes he has to strike out to win, that’s when you can really keep the pressure on.”
The World Championship was the fourth and final event of the season that offered a $1 million bonus if the winning player bowled a 300 game in the title match.
“Obviously you can’t ignore the money in a tournament like this but it’s never been the motivating factor for me,” said Belmonte. “It’s always about the title because that’s what people will remember when the history is written.”
In the semifinal match, Simonsen, a seven-time tour winner beat No. 2 seed EJ Tackett of Bluffton, Indiana, 215-177, to advance to the title match. Tackett, the 2016 PBA Player of the Year, was trying for his third major and 14th career tour title.
In the second match, Simonsen defeated Canadian Francois Lavoie 224-204 to advance to the semifinal match. Lavoie, a four-time tour winner that includes two U.S. Open titles, was trying for his third major win.
The finals started with Lavoie, the No. 4 seed, beating three-time Team USA member and former National Amateur Champion No. 5 seed Chris Via of Springfield, Ohio, 269-258 to advance to the second match against Simonsen. Via, a two-time PBA Tour runner-up, finished fifth to match his best finish in a major which came in the recent U.S. Open.
PBA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
(A Storm PBA World Series of Bowling XI/2020 Go Bowling PBA Tour Tier 1 event)
South Point Bowling Plaza, Las Vegas, Sunday
1, Jason Belmonte, Australia $150,000.
2, Anthony Simonsen, Little Elm, Texas, $70,000.
3, EJ Tackett, Bluffton, Ind., $40,000.
4, Francois Lavoie, Canada, $30,000.
5, Chris Via, Springfield, Ohio, $20,000.
Match one – Lavoie def. Via, 269-258.
Match two – Simonsen def. Lavoie, 224-204.
Semifinal – Simonsen def. Tackett, 215-177.
Championship – Belmonte def. Simonsen, 213-190.