The first day of the USA vs. The World belonged to the international stars. The event returned to the Guaranteed Rate World Series of Bowling XIV for the first time since 2019.

Jason Belmonte’s squad, featuring Sam Cooley, Jesper Svensson and Dom Barrett, swept the Americans at Bowlero Wauwatosa outside of Milwaukee. The World team won all four singles matches and racked up the higher total pinfall to take a commanding 5-0 lead heading into Sunday’s championship round.

Facing Anthony Simonsen, EJ Tackett, Kyle Troup and U.S. captain Tommy Jones, Belmonte felt his collection of international talents were the underdogs before the match. Even after Saturday’s stellar performance, the Australian doubled down.

“I still feel we’re the underdogs,” Belmonte said. “Whilst we did have a great day today, on paper, look at the team we’re playing against. They’re absolute superstars. What we saw today is no reflection on how they can compete on TV.”

Jones said losing last week’s Captains’ Round at the Holler House, which awarded lane choice for every match to the World team, put the U.S. behind the eight-ball. He said the right lane played differently than the left and solving that difference will be key to their comeback efforts tomorrow.

“There’s no remote to change what happened today,” Jones said. “We just have to dig in and get the U.S. chants going. We’ll do our job.”

Competing on the 44-foot Salvino pattern, Cooley defeated Jones in the opening match of the afternoon. Before any matchups were set, Cooley told Belmonte he wanted to face Jones. The one-handed Australian, who also advanced to the PBA Shark Championship finals at the WSOB, proved himself to be right. 

Cooley led from the opening frame, but he left a 2-4-10 split in the ninth frame to open the door for Jones. The U.S. captain needed all three strikes in the 10th frame to steal the point, but left a super bucket on the first shot.

In the second match, Tour roommates and close friends Troup and Svensson became opponents for the first time on TV. Despite enough raw power to fuel a sports car, the two-handed battle sputtered into a in a spare shooting contest.

Through nine frames, the two spared a combined 11 single pins. Svensson’s hambone sandwiched between his five single-pin spares proved to be the difference.

The strikes came in bunches during the third match between Belmonte and Simonsen. In the 15th televised matchup of their career, Belmonte improved his head-to-head record to 10-5 with a 255-244 victory.

The two-handed titans showcased their versatility, as Simonsen’s ball crossed the arrows nearly 10 boards farther left than Belmonte’s. Simonsen started with a hambone to take the early lead, but Belmonte kept pace.

Simonsen needed a double in the 10th frame to usurp Belmonte, but a 3-6-10 leave handed the World team a 3-0 lead.

The final match represented a rematch of the PBA Shawnee Classic title match. Tackett took home the trophy in February, but Barrett got his revenge on Saturday. The back-and-forth match all but ended after Tackett’s Greek Church leave in the ninth frame.

Though the World holds a five-point advantage, Belmonte said the competition is far from over. 

“There’s still going to be pressure, we haven’t won the championship just yet,” Belmonte said after the match. “It definitely allows us to feel a little more free on the lanes. I’m really proud of the boys. They stepped up each and every game, especially when it was getting a little bit tight. We managed to throw some pretty clutch strikes at the end.”

The champion of the Hall of Fame Cup will be determined Sunday at noon ET on FOX. The U.S. can still take home the Hall of Fame Cup as doubles and Baker matches await.

Match Scores

Sam Cooley def. Tommy Jones, 214-200
Jesper Svensson def. Kyle Troup, 220-210
Jason Belmonte def. Anthony Simonsen, 255-244
Dom Barrett def. EJ Tackett, 239-202
World def. USA, 928-856

WSOB XIV Schedule

All times listed in Eastern.

Sunday, April 16
Noon on FS1 — USA vs. The World Finals
Tickets are available here.

Monday, April 17
7 p.m. on FS1 — PBA Cheetah Championship Finals
Tickets are available here.

Tuesday, April 18
7 p.m. on FS1 — PBA Scorpion Championship Finals
Tickets are available here.

Wednesday, April 19
7 p.m. on FS1 — PBA Shark Championship Finals
Tickets are available here.

Thursday, April 20
10 a.m. — PBA World Championship Match Play Round 1 (six games)
2:30 p.m. — PBA World Championship Match Play Round 2 (six games)

Sunday, April 23
Noon on FOX — PBA World Championship Finals
Tickets are available here.