Tom Smallwood Wins Central Region, Advances to PBA Players Championship Finals
Jupiter, Fla.—Central Region top seed Tom Smallwood defeated rookie Zach Weidman to earn a spot in the PBA Players Championship Finals. Smallwood is the third number-one seed to advance, joining Anthony Simonsen from the West Region and François Lavoie from the Southwest, with the East and South Regions still to be decided.
Smallwood, who won the 2018 PBA Players Championship and has finished in the top 15 each of the previous four—now five—iterations, will be looking for his third career major title and fourth overall PBA Tour title.
“I get in a different mindset,” said Smallwood of major championships. “I don’t care how high or low the scores are, I’m thinking grind from frame one, game one. I just don’t give up. I don’t give away any pins. That’s a big part of making major shows and longer-format shows.”
As the top seed, Smallwood needed to win one game to advance, but he had to face Weidman, who bowled an 803 series in defeating PBA Tour champions Wes Malott, Ronnie Russell and Andrew Anderson on the way to the final match.
“He bowled amazing,” said Smallwood of Weidman. “In clutch moments, he threw great shots. With the striking pace that high, I knew I needed my pace to be high. My last three shots of practice, I inched a little closer to the dry and my ball finally faced up. If I was going to be close to the dry, I needed to throw it better. After the first two or three frames, it went high flush, and I knew I had something going.”
Both players struck in the first three frames, with Smallwood extending his string to five to build a lead. Even after leaving a solid 8 pin in the eighth, Smallwood knew the match was his to win or lose.
“(Weidman) made moves and made great shots, but the transition caught him for three or four frames and that’s what got me into the lead,” said Smallwood. “With the 8 pin, I was still in the lead in the match. If I strike out in the ninth and 10th, I can’t be beat, so it’s totally up to me.”
The win puts Smallwood into the PBA Players Championship finals with fellow major champions Simonsen and Lavoie. They’ll be joined by the winners of the East and South Regions and compete for a major championship title and a top prize of $250,000.
The PBA Players Championship Finals will air live on FOX Broadcast Channel Feb. 21.
Central Region Stepladder Finals Results
Bowlero Jupiter – Jupiter, Fla.
- Tom Smallwood, advances to PBA Players Championship Finals
- Zach Weidman, earns $15,000
- Andrew Anderson, $13,000
- Ronnie Russell, $11,000
- Wes Malott, $10,000
Match 1 – No. 5 Weidman def. No. 4 Malott, 258-237
Match 2 – No. 5 Weidman def. No. 3 Russell, 277-243
Match 3 – No. 5 Weidman def. No. 2 Anderson, 268-265
Match 4 – No. 1 Smallwood def. No. 5 Weidman, 246-226
Upcoming Players Championship Television Schedule
Bowlero Jupiter – Jupiter, Fla.
Sunday, Feb. 7 at 2 p.m. on FS1 – East Region Finals
Sunday, Feb. 14 at 1 p.m. on FS1 – South Region Finals
Sunday, Feb. 21 at 12:30 p.m. on FOX – PBA Players Championship Finals
About the PBA
The Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) is the world’s preeminent organization dedicated to the sport of bowling and its professional competition, with thousands of members and millions of fans throughout the world. The PBA plays host to bowling’s biggest tournaments from the PBA Tour, PBA Regional Tour, and PBA50 Tour. In 2020, the PBA launched PBA Jr., a club for elite youth bowlers under the age of 17 and the PBA Pinsiders, a membership for fans of the sport. For more information, please visit PBA.com.