Simonsen wins four consecutive matches to claim 14th career PBA Tour title

Fifth-seeded Anthony Simonsen climbed Sunday afternoon’s stepladder finals, defeating AJ Johnson, Matt Russo, EJ Tackett and top-seeded Bill O’Neill to win the PBA Pete Weber Missouri Classic.

With the win, Simonsen earned his 14th career PBA Tour title and the $25,000 top prize.

On Friday, Simonsen threw the front-nine in the final game to punch his ticket to the finals. Following a pivotal strike, he tapped his wrist and said “too much time.”

“I really had nothing to lose that last game, and that was the motto today,” Simonsen said. “I barely made the show. I was on house money. Sometimes all it takes is just sneaking through until you get that opportunity.”

Though he felt he had nothing to lose, Simonsen concocted a gameplan to conquer the 45-foot Dragon oil pattern. His command over lanes 29-30 at Enterprise Park Lanes in Springfield, Mo. proved to be the difference.

“On TV shows, I like using balls that I'm comfortable with,” Simonsen said. “I decided I was going to shuffle through a couple of those until hopefully we made the lanes dry enough to the right to throw that Attention Star. I think my gameplan today was really solid and I executed it to a tee.”

In the opening match, Simonsen distanced himself from Johnson with a three-bagger in the middle of the match. Meanwhile, Johnson split three times on the right lane — the same blunder that cost him in last week’s PBA Illinois Classic title match.

Johnson advanced to face the lone lefty in Russo, who now lives in the St. Louis area and bowls regularly with Weber during the offseason.

After a strong start, Russo left a pocket 7-10 in the fifth frame and washed out in the sixth. That was all Simonsen needed to prevail with a 247-202 victory.

The semifinals pitted Simonsen against reigning Player of the Year EJ Tackett. The 2023’s season’s top two players grinded through the transition as neither player struck for five consecutive frames.

Tackett tossed aside any struggles as he aced three strikes in the 10th, forcing Simonsen to double.

Just as he did on Friday evening, Simonsen dialed in when he needed it most.

O’Neill, seeking his second title of the season, awaited Simonsen in the title match.

The current front-runner for Player of the Year elected to finish on the left lane, a decision he soon came to regret. O’Neill left a variation of the 2-10 split in the fourth, sixth and eighth frames.

Simonsen, who displayed the savviness of a fifth-year-senior point guard, cruised to a 225-156 win.

When Pete Weber threw his final shots on the PBA Tour last Thursday, Simonsen was the first player to congratulate the Hall of Famer. Sunday, Weber returned the favor to present him the championship trophy.

“The sport of bowling wouldn’t be where it is today without him,” Simonsen said. “It’s emotional for me because we’re getting to the point where Father Time has kind of taken over a lot of the guys who I watched at a younger age.This is going to be the first time in 66 years without a Weber associated with the PBA Tour.”

“I think me and Pete are alike at times,” Simonsen said. “Sometimes it seems like we need to bowl angry to bowl better. Sometimes it comes out the way it should; sometimes it's a little unprofessional.

“I jokingly told Pete, ‘I don’t know if there’s anybody better to win the inaugural Pete Weber event than me.’”


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No days off in 2024: The PBA Tour keeps rolling as the Just Bare PBA Indiana Classic, the fifth title event of the season, begins Monday in Anderson, Ind.

Rounds 7-8 of the PBA Elite League presented by Snickers takes place on Monday night (6 p.m. ET on BowlTV) before main event qualifying begins on Tuesday morning.

Championship Round Scores

Match 1: No. 5 Anthony Simonsen def. No. 4 AJ Johnson, 234-159
Match 2: No. 5 Anthony Simonsen def. No. 3 Matt Russo, 247-202
Match 3: No. 5 Anthony Simonsen def. No. 2 EJ Tackett, 203-193
Championship: No. 5 Anthony Simonsen def. No. 1 Bill O’Neill, 225-156

Final Standings

  1. Anthony Simonsen, $25,000
  2. Bill O’Neill, $15,000
  3. EJ Tackett, $12,500
  4. Matt Russo, $10,000
  5. AJ Johnson, $8,000

More information on the PBA Pete Weber Missouri Classic is available here.