EJ Tackett obliterated the pins at Bowlero Mt. Prospect near Chicago. Tackett averaged over 250 for 12 games, including a 300, to lead the first day of the PBA Illinois Classic.

Coming off the season’s most challenging event at the U.S. Open, Tackett arrived in Illinois battle tested.

“It's always hard to come off such a physically, mentally and emotionally grueling week like that,” Tackett said. “The U.S. Open will do that to you. Your margin for error is very small at that event. Then you come out here, where the pattern is a little bit easier, and it seems a lot easier because we bowled on such tough conditions last week.”

Tackett leads the field by 154 pins after two rounds of qualifying. Marshall Kent, Sean Lavery-Spahr, Bill O’Neill and Andrew Anderson round out the top five. 

One six-game qualifying round remains before the field is trimmed to the top 24 players for elimination match play. The top eight players will receive a one-round bye.

Kyle Sherman made his first singles appearance of the season today. The two-time champion has been working his way back from a left knee injury, which he said is getting better but not near 100%.

“It's definitely more mentally taxing than anything,” said Sherman, who has also battled hip and shoulder injuries in recent years. “When I feel good, I know I can compete with anybody. I want to be out here. It’s just been the same old thing, something wrong one after another. It just sucks and when it happens over and over again. It's hard to keep that attitude of, ‘Alright, we are going to push through it and get better.’ These last couple injuries are pretty tough. At the end of the day, all I can do is move forward.”

Sherman, sitting in 13th position at +322, will apply that same mentality to the lanes on Wednesday as he looks to climb into the top eight and earn a one-round bye. He won his second career title and first singles title at the 2022 PBA Cheetah Championship, which featured a similar match play format.

The current cut is AJ Chapman at +288, a 224 per game pace.

The third round of qualifying begins at 10 a.m. Central (11 a.m. Eastern) time on Wednesday.

All rounds of qualifying and match play will be livestreamed on BowlTV.

Leaders after Round 2

  1. EJ Tackett, 3,020 (+620)
  2. Marshall Kent, 2,866 (+466)
  3. Sean Lavery-Spahr, 2,846 (+446)
  4. Bill O’Neill, 2,810 (+410)
  5. Andrew Anderson, 2,809 (+409)
  6. Tom Daugherty, 2,786 (+386)
  7. Jesper Svensson, 2,772 (+372)
  8. Jason Sterner, 2,769 (+369)
  9. Sean Rash, 2,765 (+365)
  10. Chris Via, 2,758 (+358)

Full standings are available here.

PBA Illinois Classic Schedule

Bowlero Mt. Prospect | Mt. Prospect, IL

All times Eastern

Wednesday, Feb. 7
11 a.m. — Qualifying Round 3 (six games)
Cut to top 24 players for elimination match play
7 p.m. — Round of 24 (best-of-seven-games matches)

Thursday, Feb. 8
11 a.m. — Round of 16 (best-of-seven-games matches)
7 p.m. — Round of 8 (best-of-seven-games matches)

Four winners plus highest-eliminated qualifier in Round of 8 advance to championship round

Saturday, Feb. 10
8 p.m. — PBA Illinois Classic finals