Butturff, O’Neill Dominate To Reach Semifinals of the PBA Players Championship presented by Snickers
Jakob Butturff and Bill O’Neill collected decisive victories in the quarterfinals of the PBA Players Championship presented by Snickers next weekend.
Butturff and O’Neill will join Anthony Simonsen and Kevin McCune in the semifinals next weekend at Bowlero North Brunswick. Simonsen and McCune won their quarterfinal matches in a pair of thrilling roll-offs earlier on Sunday afternoon.
The eight-time PBA champion Butturff dismantled Keven Williams in the third quarterfinal match. He converted a pair of difficult six-count spares to open the match, but those would be his only shots to miss the pocket all match.
Holding a 13-pin advantage, Butturff packed all three strikes in the 10th frame to claim the first point in the Race-to-Two match.
Butturff didn’t stop there, recording a 10-strike 278 in Game 2 — the highest of all three televised rounds this weekend — to eliminate Williams.
“I think the biggest thing that I had, and I know the majority of lefties don't have, is that I love to get in and out-hook them,” Butturff said. “I just had to find a way to get deeper than him on the lane and I think that's what paid off in this two-game match.”
Williams said his poor ball reaction reminded him of what he saw towards the end of qualifying, where he struggled to bowl games over 210 consistently.
“That’s part of bowling,” Williams said. “Jakob matched up; he's bowling sick, like he always does. He's one of the best lefties on Tour for the last eight years or however long he's been on Tour, so I can't be mad about getting whooped like that.”
With the highest game of the weekend, Jakob Butturff carved up the dual patterns like a 🔪 through 🧈@JButturff is moving on to the semifinals of the PBA Players Championship presented by Snickers!— PBA Tour (@PBATour) May 8, 2023
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The final match of the night pitted New Jersey-raised Matt Russo against the lifelong eastern Pennsylvanian in O’Neill. The two jawed back and forth over the past couple days.
In a unique twist, O’Neill reaped the benefits often enjoyed by the southpaws as the lone right-hander on the show. That proved to be a deciding factor in the match as the exacerbated transition puzzled Russo, who shot 160 in Game 1 without striking on the right lane’s 39-foot Carter pattern until the ninth frame.
“I honestly had no clue on the right lane,” Russo said. “(Butturff and Williams) both threw urethane on that lane and they were both far enough to the right there was really nothing to throw at. But then when you threw it at something, it just kept hooking. If it was too hard, it kept going. I don't know if I've ever seen anything like that, truthfully.”
Despite a slow start, Russo kept Game 2 closer as he struck on four of five shots late in the match. But O’Neill stayed clean to defeat the southpaw and advance to the semifinals.
O’Neill said if they had bowled the first match, before Butturff and Williams beat up the left side of the lane, the outcome may have been different.
“We see it all the time and the lefties don’t, so when they see those kinds of things, instinctually they just don't know the moves,” O’Neill said. “On the flip side for me, on that left lane, I had nobody helping me break them down to the right and so the pattern played pretty flat. That was a mistake on my part, not to have a little more surface and play a little further right to create a little better ball reaction.”
Bill O'Neill throws the first punch in Game 1 of the Race-to-Two match against Matt Russo 🤜— PBA Tour (@PBATour) May 8, 2023
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If O’Neill wants to win a second career Players Championship, he’ll need to devise a better gameplan as he’ll face the highest-scoring player of the weekend in Butturff.
Simonsen, who became the first player to earn top-four finishes in all five majors in a single season, will face McCune in the other semifinal. Both matches will be held Saturday, May 13 at 12:30 p.m. ET on FS1.
With Simonsen and Butturff having secured spots in the PBA Super Slam Cup, the highest finisher between O’Neill and McCune will join them, EJ Tackett and Jason Belmonte in Florida the following weekend.
In the meantime, players will make the short trek to Delaware as qualifying for the Roth/Holman PBA Doubles Championship presented by Bally’s Dover Casino Resort gets underway on Tuesday.
But first, O’Neill will celebrate Sunday's triumph near his hometown and his 13th wedding anniversary with his wife, Christi.
Match One: No. 9 Kevin McCune def. No. 1 EJ Tackett
Game 1: McCune def. Tackett, 193-192
Game 2: Tackett def. McCune, 211-208
Roll-Off: McCune def. Tackett, 49-24
Match Two: No. 12 Anthony Simonsen def. No. 4 Tomas Käyhkö
Game 1: Simonsen def. Käyhkö, 213-190
Game 2: Käyhkö def. Simonsen, 232-211
Roll-Off: Simonsen def. Käyhkö, 40-38
Match Three: No. 2 Jakob Butturff def. No. 10 Keven Williams
Game 1: Butturff def. Williams, 224-188
Game 2: Butturff def. Williams, 278-203
Match Four: No. 6 Bill O’Neill def. No. 3 Matt Russo
Game 1: O’Neill def. Russo, 218-160
Game 2: O’Neill def. Russo, 196-180
The fifth- through eighth-place finishers each earn $13,000.
Saturday, May 13 at 12:30 p.m. ET on FS1
No. 9 Kevin McCune vs. No. 12 Anthony Simonsen (Race-to-Two match)
No. 2 Jakob Butturff vs. No. 6 Bill O’Neill (Race-to-Two match)
Sunday, May 14 at 1 p.m. ET on FOX
Championship match (Best-of-five match)
All times are listed in Eastern.
Saturday, May 13 | FS1
12:30 p.m. — Semifinals (Race-to-Two matches)
Sunday, May 14 | FOX
1 p.m. — Championship Round (Best-of-Five match)
More information on the PBA Players Championship presented by Snickers is available here.