Simonsen, McCune Advance to Semifinals of PBA Players Championship presented by Snickers
In the first of two quarterfinal rounds of the PBA Players Championship presented by Snickers, Anthony Simonsen and Kevin McCune prevailed. The young right-handers punched their tickets to the semifinals of the season’s final major.
Though Simonsen boasts nearly a decade’s worth of additional experience, the 26-year-old is only two years older than McCune. Neither player was old enough to vote — and Simonsen was barely old enough to drive — the last time the PBA Tour competed at Bowlero North Brunswick in New Jersey in 2014.
In the afternoon’s opening match, McCune dethroned EJ Tackett, the frontrunner for PBA Player of the Year. Tackett, the No. 1 seed, earned his fourth top seed in five majors this season and set a new PBA record.
McCune took Game 1 of the Race-to-Two match after Tackett left a 7-10 split in the 10th frame. Tackett needed one of the pins to force McCune to double, but missed both. McCune struck and converted a 6-pin to secure the first point.
In Game 2, Tackett could not figure out the 39-foot Carter pattern on the right lane. He tallied a Brooklyn strike, two open frames and a single-pin conversion in his four attempts leading into the final frame, where he would need to double to force a roll-off.
As he did to win both of his major titles, Tackett stepped up and delivered both strikes.
“Not dead yet!” he said.
In the roll-off, Tackett struck again on the right lane but split on the left lane, which featured the 45-foot Weber pattern. McCune, who defeated EJ’s younger brother Zac Tackett in Saturday’s Round of 12, seized the opportunity against another Indiana native.
“I wasn’t thinking of him as the hottest player on Tour,” McCune said. “I thought of him as a friend because I've known him since I was little. I just came out here to beat my friend in a very high intensity match.”
WHAT A FINISH 😤😤😤— PBA Tour (@PBATour) May 7, 2023
Kevin McCune throws down the hammer and takes down EJ Tackett! He's moving on to the semifinals of the PBA Players Championship presented by Snickers!
📺 FS1 | FOX app pic.twitter.com/ckzo1mXJpM
Though Simonsen came into the afternoon’s second match as the lowest remaining seed (No. 12), he carried the momentum entering his match against No. 4 Tomas Käyhkö.
Simonsen, perhaps sensing an opening with the Player of the Year favorite bowing out early, started off on fire. As Käyhkö struggled to knock over all 10 pins, much like he did at the U.S. Open earlier this season, Simonsen cruised to a Game 1 victory, 213-190.
Käyhkö switched to urethane on the right lane and flipped the script in Game 2, starting with the first five strikes. The two-handers each split in the ninth frame then aced all three strikes in the 10th, but Käyhkö won the game and forced the second roll-off of the afternoon.
After Simonsen tallied 40 for his two-frame pinfall, Käyhkö needed to double in his second frame to advance.
During his fill ball on the right lane, Käyhkö moved one board to the left and struck. It proved to be an adjustment he said he regretted as he left a ringing 10-pin to lose.
SIMO TO THE SEMIS!!!— PBA Tour (@PBATour) May 7, 2023
Anthony Simonsen skates by Tomas Käyhkö in a roll-off and advances to the final four at the PBA Players Championship presented by Snickers.
📺 FS1 | FOX app pic.twitter.com/Kx5ti4IWVZ
With the win, Simonsen clinched an unprecedented top-four finish in all five of this season’s majors.
The remaining semifinalists will be determined tonight at 9:30 p.m. ET on FS1.
The lefties Jakob Butturff and Keven Williams will compete in the opening match, while New Jersey’s Matt Russo squares off with eastern Pennsylvania's Bill O’Neill in the second.
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 vs. No. 10 Keven Williams
Match Four: No. 6 Bill O’Neill vs. No. 3 Matt Russo
Tackett and Käyhkö, plus the losers of Match Three and Match Four, each earn $13,000.
Sunday, May 7 at 9:30 p.m. ET on FS1
No. 2 Jakob Butturff vs. No. 10 Keven Williams (Race-to-Two match)
No. 3 Matt Russo vs. No. 6 Bill O’Neill (Race-to-Two match)
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 | No. 10 Keven Williams vs. No. 3 Matt Russo | 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.
Sunday, May 7 | FS1
9:30 p.m. — Quarterfinals (Race-to-Two matches)
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.