2021 Guaranteed Rate PBA Tour Season in Review
In 2021, we saw five players win their first PBA Tour titles, four of the five majors go to first-time major champions, the shattering of an 18-year-old single-season earnings record, three televised perfect games including two by the same player for the first time in PBA Tour history and, for the first time since 1991, the 7-10 split converted on TV.
When it was over, Kyle Troup was named PBA Player of the Year, Matthew Russo Rookie of the Year and Darren Tang claimed the Summer Tour bonus.
Here’s a quick recap of the 2021 Guaranteed Rate PBA Tour season:
PBA Players Championship
Winner: Kyle Troup (7th career title)
The PBA Players Championship debuted its unique format, with players competing in five regional qualifiers to advance to regional stepladder finals, with the winner of each advancing to the overall stepladder finals for the season’s first major and PBA record-tying first-place prize of $250,000.
Kyle Troup led everything he could lead. He was the top seed in the East Region and won his match against Michael Davidson to advance to the finals. Troup then led the seeding round with the other regional winners to claim the top seed for the stepladder finals. Troup then dropped a 257 game on Dick Allen, giving Troup his first major title, seventh PBA Tour title and a quarter of a million dollars to start the season.
Kia PBA Tournament of Champions
Winner: François Lavoie (5)
François Lavoie needed to win a roll-off over Tom Smallwood to earn the No. 5 seed for the Kia PBA Tournament of Champions stepladder, but from there, Lavoie ran through four potential—that is, probable—Hall of Famers on his way to making himself performance-eligible for HOF consideration.
Lavoie defeated Sean Rash, Jesper Svensson, Jason Belmonte and Anthony Simonsen to claim the title. It was Lavoie’s fifth PBA Tour title and third major
Guaranteed Rate PBA World Championship
AMF University Lanes
Winner: Tom Daugherty (3)
The first telecast from World Series of Bowling XII was the big one, with Tom Daugherty claiming his first major championship with a win over Jakob Butturff in the Guaranteed Rate PBA World Championship.
Daugherty earned the top seed for the World Championship throughout the course of multi-pattern qualifying and edged Butturff by six pins, 263-257.
PBA Roth/Holman Doubles Championship
AMF University Lanes
Winners: Kris Prather (4) and Andrew Anderson (3)
It took three wins on the stepladder for second-year teammates Kris Prather and Andrew Anderson to earn the PBA Roth/Holman Doubles Championship. Prather and Anderson qualified third, beat former two-time Roth/Holman Doubles champions Kyle Troup and Jesper Svennson by a single pin, then took out perennial contenders EJ Tackett and Marshall Kent before clinching the title with a win over top seeds Tom Daugherty and BJ Moore.
It was the fourth PBA Tour title for Prather and third for Anderson.
PBA Cheetah Championship
AMF University Lanes
Winner: Sam Cooley (1)
Sam Cooley became the first of what would become five first-time winners in 2021 with a win over Kris Prather in the championship match of the PBA Cheetah Championship.
In an eliminator format, Cooley bowled games of 225 and 258 to get to the title match, in which he bested Prather, 247-185.
PBA Chameleon Championship
AMF University Lanes
Winner: Shawn Maldonado (1)
One night later, another player won his first title. Shawn Maldonado bowled the highest score in the first televised match, tied for the highest score with Jakob Butturff in the second match, setting up the championship match between Maldonado and Butturff. There, Maldonado bowled his best game of the night, rolling 250 on his way to his first PBA Tour title.
PBA Scorpion Championship
AMF University Lanes
Winner: Tom Daugherty (4)
Tom Daugherty bookended World Series of Bowling XII with wins, first taking the PBA World Championship and then securing the Scorpion Championship with a 266-254 win over Kyle Troup in the title match. It was the second time in his career Daugherty won the Scorpion Championship.
Also notable: this was the last PBA Tour event bowled by Pete Weber and Walter Ray Williams Jr., who announced their retirements on the final day of match play. Both Weber and Williams were eliminated by Daugherty in match play, with Weber going out in the round of 16 and Williams in the round of eight.
National Bowling Stadium
Winner: Thomas Larsen (3)
Dane Thomas Larsen became the third first-time major champion of 2021, defeating Swede Jesper Svensson in the all-Scandinavian title match of the USBC Masters. It was Larsen’s third PBA Tour title and first since 2014.
Larsen, the second seed, defeated Spencer Robarge in the semifinal match before knocking out top seed Svensson for the championship.
National Bowling Stadium
Winner: Chris Via (1)
In the final major of the season, Chris Via made his third stepladder appearance (four if you count the Players Championship regional finals, during which he shot 300 but didn’t advance). It was also Via’s fifth stepladder appearance in his past seven major tournaments. This time, he won, making himself the third first-time champion in 2021 and fourth first-time major winner.
Via was the top seed and edged Jakob Butturff by a single pin in the title match. Butturff advanced by beating Anthony Neuer, who drew plenty of eyes to professional bowling with his 7-10 split conversion in a losing effort. It was the fourth televised 7-10 conversion in PBA history and first since 1991.
Guaranteed Rate PBA Super Slam
Winner: François Lavoie
The Guaranteed Rate PBA Super Slam featured the five 2021 PBA major champions battling for supremacy—and $100,000—in a special exhibition. François Lavoie bowled the fourth-highest score in the round-robin match, pitting him against Chris Via in the semifinals. Lavoie got past Via by three pins, then trounced Kyle Troup in the finals, 247-202.
Kia PBA Playoffs
Winner: Kyle Troup (8)
With his win in the Kia PBA Playoffs, Kyle Troup tied his father, Guppy, with eight PBA Tour titles, and broke the all-time PBA Tour single-season earnings record previously held by Walter Ray Williams Jr., who earned $419,700 in the 2002-2003 season.
The $100,000 Troup banked for beating Sam Cooley, 3-1, in a race-to-three-points match, put Troup at $469,200 on the season.
PBA King of the Lanes: Empress Edition Presented by Pabst Blue Ribbon
Reigning Empress: Stefanie Johnson
The two-night, five-show inaugural edition of the PBA King of the Lanes: Empress Edition ended with Stefanie Johnson on the throne. In the first Empress match of the series, Daria Pajak took the crown from Kelly Kulick, then successfully defended it against Danielle McEwan before dropping it to Missy Parkin. Liz Johnson then took the throne from Parkin before being dispatched by Stefanie Johnson.
PBA King of the Lanes Presented by Pabst Blue Ribbon
Reigning King: Jason Sterner
The 2021 King of the Lanes began with Chris Barnes taking the throne from reigning 2020 King Kris Prather. Barnes dropped the crown to fellow PBA Hall of Famer Parker Bohn III, who then successfully defended his position against Anthony Neuer. At the end of the series, Jason Sterner reigned, having taken the crown from Bohn and then defended it against Tom Daugherty.
PBA Tour Finals
Allen Park, Michigan
Winner: Anthony Simonsen (8)
In a rematch of the 2020 PBA Tour Finals, which were won by Kyle Troup, Anthony Simonsen emerged the victor this time, defeating Troup in a roll-off to claim the title. It was Simonsen’s eighth PBA Tour title and first since winning twice in 2019.
Earlier in the event, Chris Via rolled his second 300 game of the season, becoming the first player in PBA Tour history to bowl two televised 300 games in the same season.
PBA Strike Derby
Winner: Andrew Anderson
Making his PBA Strike Derby debut, Andrew Anderson qualified fifth, then plowed his way through the bracket, taking out Kyle Troup, Norm Duke and ultimately Anthony Simonsen to claim the exhibition title.
PBA Lubbock Sports Open
South Plains Lanes
Winner: Shawn Maldonado (2)
The PBA Summer Tour began in Lubbock, with players competing for a PBA Tour title and beginning the points race toward the $40,000 bonus prize fund for the top 10, with $20,000 going to the player who earned the most points over the course of the five Summer Tour events.
Top seed Shawn Maldonado took the early lead in the points race, earning the second title of his career and of the season with a win over Jake Peters in the championship match.
PBA/PWBA Striking Against Breast Cancer Mixed Doubles
Winners: EJ Tackett (14) and Danielle McEwan (6th PWBA Tour title)
EJ Tackett and Danielle McEwan led A squad qualifying of the PBA/PWBA Striking Against Breast Cancer Mixed Doubles and stayed on top until the end, when they were hoisting the trophies. With a +1,279 score over 40 total games, Tackett and McEwan finished 212 pins ahead of second place.
PBA Jonesboro Open
Hijinx Family Entertainment Center
Winner: Matthew Russo (1)
The next first-time PBA Tour champion showed himself in Jonesboro, with Matthew Russo winning the PBA Jonesboro Open from the No. 2 spot on the stepladder. Russo defeated Jakob Butturff in the semifinal match and Mykel Holliman in the championship match.
PBA Bowlerstore.com Classic
Winner: Darren Tang (1)
The fifth first-time champion, Darren Tang, won the PBA Bowlerstore.com Classic from the top spot on the stepladder, bowling a 254 game to defeat Kyle Troup in the title match. Tang’s win in Coldwater also propelled him to the overall lead in Summer Tour points with one event remaining.
PBA Chesapeake Open
AMF Western Branch Lanes
Winner: Sean Rash (17)
Sean Rash concluded a difficult Summer Tour with a win in Chesapeake, giving him 17 career titles and moving him into seventh in the Summer Tour points standings for a share of the bonus prize fund.
Rash qualified second and beat Tom Daugherty in the title match.
Darren Tang finished seventh, which was good enough to hang on to the top spot in the Summer Tour points race, narrowly edging runner-up Anthony Simonsen, who finished sixth in Chesapeake. Tang collected a $20,000 bonus as the Summer Tour points leader.
CP3 PBA Celebrity Invitational
Winners: Terrell Owens and AJ Johnson
Pro Football Hall of Famer Terrell Owens won the CP3 PBA Celebrity Invitational for the second time, this time with AJ Johnson, who was making his CP3 debut. Owens previously won the event in 2016 with Pete Weber.
Owens also won the Celebrity Super Clash for the second time, previously having done so in 2018.
In addition to the competition, Strike Derby champion Andrew Anderson bowled 11 strikes in two minutes to earn a $22,000 donation from Bowlero Corp. to the Chris Paul Family Foundation.
2021 Guaranteed Rate PBA Tour Season Awards
Final 2021 PBA Tour Points Standings
- Kyle Troup, 19,922.5
- Chris Via, 19,061
- Tom Daugherty, 18,502.5
- Jakob Butturff, 17,536
- François Lavoie, 16,915
- Anthony Simonsen, 16,305
- EJ Tackett, 14,310
- Kris Prather, 13,230
- Sam Cooley, 12,324
- Jesper Svensson, 12,115
Final 2021 PBA Tour Earnings
- Kyle Troup, $496,900
- François Lavoie, $370,330
- Tom Daugherty, $197,400
- Anthony Simonsen, $188,325
- Dick Allen, $151,365
- Chris Via, $125,210
- Sam Cooley, $122,815
- Jakob Butturff, $111,850
- Jesper Svensson, $102,100
- Kris Prather, $91,080
2021 Guaranteed Rate PBA Tour Champions
Majors in bold
Non-title exhibition events in italics
PBA Players Championship: Kyle Troup (7th career title)
Kia PBA Tournament of Champions: François Lavoie (5)
Guaranteed Rate PBA World Championship: Tom Daugherty (3)
PBA Roth/Holman PBA Doubles Championship: Kris Prather (4) and Andrew Anderson (3)
PBA Cheetah Championship: Sam Cooley (1)
PBA Chameleon Championship: Shawn Maldonado (1)
PBA Scorpion Championship: Tom Daugherty (4)
USBC Masters: Thomas Larsen (3)
U.S. Open: Chris Via (1)
Guaranteed Rate PBA Super Slam: François Lavoie
Kia PBA Playoffs: Kyle Troup (8)
King of the Lanes: Empress Edition: Stefanie Johnson
King of the Lanes: Jason Sterner
PBA Tour Finals: Anthony Simonsen (8)
PBA Strike Derby: Andrew Anderson
PBA Lubbock Sports Open: Shawn Maldonado (2)
PBA/PWBA Striking Against Breast Cancer Mixed Doubles: EJ Tackett (14) and Danielle McEwan (6th PWBA Tour title)
PBA Jonesboro Open: Matthew Russo (1)
PBA Bowlerstore.com Classic: Darren Tang (1)
PBA Chesapeake Open: Sean Rash (17)
CP3 PBA Celebrity Invitational: Terrell Owens and AJ Johnson