Simonsen earns second career PBA Tour Finals victory

In the final televised PBA Tour title event of 2024, Anthony Simonsen emerged victorious.

Simonsen defeated Marshall Kent in a roll-off of the Race-to-Two title match at Steel City Bowl & Brews in Bethlehem, Pa.

The 27-year-old earned his 15th career title, second of the 2024 season and the first-place prize of $30,000.

On Saturday, the eight finalists competed in two groups based on their point totals during the 2023 and 2024 PBA Tour seasons.

Kent notched the top seed in Group 1, then defeated Bill O’Neill in a rematch of Saturday’s seeding match to advance to the title match earlier on Sunday afternoon.

Simonsen earned the No. 2 seed behind Jason Belmonte in Group 2, then got his revenge in the Race-to-Two Group 2 stepladder finale.

The two-hander continued on his path for vengeance as Kent beat Simonsen to win the Tournament of Champions in April. On Sunday, Simonsen prevailed in a two-frame roll-off to clinch the title.

Simonsen, Jason Belmonte, EJ Tackett and Kyle Troup have now each won the PBA Tour Finals twice. No other player has won it once in the eight editions of the event.

Group 1 Stepladder

In the opening match, Jakob Butturff defeated EJ Tackett, 217-210. Tackett struck on all seven shots on the left lane, but went 0-5 on the right lane.

Butturff split on the right lane himself in the sixth frame, but rebounded with strikes in the eighth and 10th frames to clinch the victory.

Bill O’Neill found no issues stringing strikes, handily taking down Butturff 247-193 in the second match.

The Pennsylvania native carried that momentum into the Race-to-Two match against top seed Marshall Kent, taking Game 1 258-180.

It looked like O’Neill would ride the hometown crowd straight to the title match — until everything flipped late in Game 2.

O’Neill failed to convert the 3-10 split in the 10th frame, opening the door for Kent to mark and force a ninth and 10th frame roll-off. O’Neill opened again to start the roll-off, missing the head-pin twice.

Kent took full advantage of each opportunity, whether it was a fortuitous Brooklyn strike or an error from O’Neill. In the roll-off, Kent utilized a slight loft to strike on the left lane, then buried another strike on the right lane to clinch the win.

Group 2 Stepladder

While Troup struggled during Saturday’s positioning round, the two-time and defending Tour Finals champion came out firing on Sunday afternoon. Troup fired eight strikes to start his match against Packy Hanrahan before leaving a pocket 7-10 in the ninth frame.

Troup then ran into Simonsen, who fired seven of eight strikes to start the next match. Troup kept up through six frames, but four straight spares in the seventh through 10th frames ended his repeat bid.

Simonsen kept rolling and fired the front-seven in Game 1 of the Race-to-Two match against Belmonte. He earned a 264-235 victory in Game 1, but fell 255-182 in Game 2.

Belmonte split to start the 9th and 10th frame roll-off, leaving and nearly converting the 3-4-6-7-10. That proved to be more than enough for Simonsen, who doubled to clinch the match.

Championship Match

Simonsen continued to execute his gameplans to near-perfection, firing a clean 246 to take Game 1 against Kent.

Kent displayed a tremendous amount of resilience all weekend, just as he did all season. Despite tearing the skin on his right thumb, Kent fought back to win Game 2 248-200 and force a roll-off.

However, the injury seemed to get to Kent in the roll-off. He whiffed a 10-pin in the 9th frame and immediately grimaced and grabbed his hand.

Simonsen, who struck in the 9th after switching to urethane on the 46-foot pattern, then converted a 10-pin in the 10th frame. Needing nine pins to secure the win, Simonsen struck.

“When you go through an event, you get breaks your way and you get breaks that go the opposite way,” Simonsen said. “To get a win over a guy who's been as hot as (Kent) has been lately, sometimes you need a little bit of help, whether it's good fortune on your side or bad fortune on his side in terms of missing the spare.”

Kent said his thumb hurt, particularly on the spare attempt in the roll-off, but “it’s no excuse.”

“I gave it my all on that first shot and I didn’t recommit myself,” Kent said. “It was more of a mental error on that 10-pin. I did everything I could have. I fought through it and it's okay. Now Simo and I are going to have a tiebreaker title match.”

“(This season) proved that I can do it. It’s as simple as that,” Kent added. “For years, I've been told I can do it and I've had some success. But I’ve been putting in the work and this year it's been reassuring to myself that I can do this. We’ll be back at it working even harder for next year.”

Simonsen said he felt like he was stuck in the mindset of “having to go bowl” for the past few years, but found a healthier attitude this season. 

“A little bit of a change of scenery and trying to get myself more involved in things off the lanes is helping me to have a better appreciation on the lanes for being able to compete,” Simonsen said.

The PBA Tour season continues at the end of July with the Storm PBA/PWBA Striking Against Breast Cancer Mixed Doubles and PBA/PBA50/PWBA Jonesboro Trios.

The season concludes with the PBA Elite League Playoffs in September.

More information on the PBA Tour schedule is available here.

Group 1 Stepladder Scores

Match 1: No. 4 Jakob Butturff def. No. 3 EJ Tackett, 217-210
Match 2: No. 2 Bill O’Neill def. No. 4 Jakob Butturff, 247-193
Match 3: No. 1 Marshall Kent def. No. 2 Bill O’Neill, 2-1 (180-258, 226-206, 48-28)

Group 2 Stepladder Scores

Match 1: No. 4 Kyle Troup def. No. 3 Packy Hanrahan, 256-212
Match 2: No. 2 Anthony Simonsen def. No. 4 Kyle Troup, 240-213
Match 3: No. 2 Anthony Simonsen def. No. 1 Jason Belmonte, 2-1 (264-235, 182-255, 49-37)

Championship Scores

Anthony Simonsen def. Marshall Kent, 2-1 (246-210, 200-248, 40-38)

PBA Tour Finals Final Standings

  1. Anthony Simonsen, $30,000
  2. Marshall Kent, $15,000
  3. Jason Belmonte, $8,000
  4. Bill O’Neill, $8,000
  5. Kyle Troup, $6,000
  6. Jakob Butturff, $6,000
  7. EJ Tackett, $5,000
  8. Packy Hanrahan, $5,000

More information on the PBA Tour Finals is available here.