Eight of the PBA’s finest arrived at Steel City Bowl & Brews in Bethlehem, Pa. hoping to capture the season’s final televised PBA Tour title. During Saturday’s positioning rounds, Marshall Kent and Jason Belmonte have put themselves in prime position to do so.

Players qualified for the Tour Finals as the top-eight point earners during the 2023 and 2024 PBA Tour seasons. They competed in two groups based on their point totals.

In each group, all four players bowled two games simultaneously. The left lane featured the 46-foot Johnny Petraglia oil pattern, while the right lane had the 38-foot Marshall Holman pattern.

After two games, the third and fourth qualifiers earned the No. 3 and No. 4 seed for Sunday’s group stepladder. The top two qualifiers bowled a one-game match to determine the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds.

Kent led Group 1 qualifying, then defeated Bill O’Neill in the seeding match to earn the top seed for tomorrow’s stepladder.

In Group 2, Jason Belmonte qualified second behind Anthony Simonsen, but bounced back to win the seeding match and claim Group 2’s top seed.

Group 1

Marshall Kent made among the quickest worst-to-first comeback in sports. The two-time 2024 champion shot 178 in Game 2, but rebounded with an empathic 269 to top Group 1 over O’Neill, EJ Tackett and Jakob Butturff.

O’Neill finished just two pins behind with a 445 total pinfall, followed by Tackett’s 429 and Butturff’s 410.

As the scoring pace ramped up in Game 2, Tackett was unable to keep up. He struggled to string strikes, particularly on the right lane. Tackett summarized his own frustration as his final shot on the right lane, which he described as his worst shot, struck.

Butturff bookended Game 1 with open frames to shoot 190. Though he made up ground with 220 in Game 2, he was unable to climb out of Group 1’s cellar.

Tackett and Butturff earned the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds, respectively.

Kent continued his torrid pace into the seeding match, torching O’Neill 248-186 and earning the top seed.

“I guess I’ve just got a flair for the dramatic,” Kent said during the show. “I just started throwing good shots and fortunate enough for me, a lot of them carried. (On the left lane), I finally committed to a ball that I thought was going to work and just executed. Simple as that.”

Group 1 Positioning Round Scores

Marshall Kent — 447 (178, 269)
Bill O'Neill — 445 (216, 229)
EJ Tackett — 429 (203, 226)
Jakob Butturff — 410 (190, 220)

Kent def. O’Neill, 248-186

Group 1 Stepladder: Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on CBSSN

Group 2

Although Simonsen cruised to the top qualifying position, Belmonte emerged with the top seed from the all-two-handed Group 2.

Simonsen fired 484 for his two games to lead Belmonte’s 441, Packy Hanrahan’s 441 and Kyle Troup’s 420. Belmonte defeated Hanrahan in a one-ball roll-off with a strike to advance to face Simonsen.

In the seeding match, a couple shots that did not carry turned into frustration and two splits for Simonsen. Meanwhile, Belmonte fired the front-eight and teased the raucous crowd with the potential of his fourth televised perfect game.

Belmonte earned the top seed with a 274-214 victory. Simonsen will be the No. 2 seed, followed by Hanrahan and defending Tour Finals champion Troup.

Belmonte spent the weeks prior to the Tour Finals back home in Australia. Though he was disappointed to miss his son Bowie’s third birthday today, he said he is appreciative of the time home.

“If I can get that recharge, even if it is for a couple of weeks, it makes a huge difference psychologically and physically for me,” Belmonte said. “Anytime I get that opportunity moving forward in my career to head home, I'm going to take it.”

The Group 1 and 2 stepladders will begin at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Eastern Sunday on CBS Sports Network. The winner of each stepladder will compete in the championship at 6 p.m. ET.

The final match of each group stepladder and championship match will feature the Race-to-Two format.

“The good news is if you're a little lost coming into the pair and the seed below you feels very comfortable, you do have that extra game to hang on,” Belmonte said. “But listen, I've won plenty of times from the first seed and if I win the first game tomorrow, I will very much wish it was only one game.”

Group 2 Positioning Round Scores

Anthony Simonsen — 484 (240, 244)
Jason Belmonte — 441 (236, 205)*
Packy Hanrahan — 441 (228, 213)*
Kyle Troup — 420 (223, 197)

*Belmonte defeated Hanrahan, 10-9, in a one-ball roll-off.

Belmonte def. Simonsen, 274-214

Group 2 Stepladder: Sunday at 4 p.m. ET on CBSSN