After 18 games of qualifying and three rounds of best-of-seven elimination match play, the stepladder finals of the PBA Delaware Classic is set.

Finland's Tomas Käyhkö earned the No. 1 seed, followed by David "Boog" Krol, Bill O’Neill, Tim Foy Jr. and EJ Tackett.

The finals will air Sunday, March 3 at noon Eastern on FS1 from Mid County Lanes and Entertainment in Middletown, Del.


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Käyhkö earned the top seed for the stepladder as the top qualifier among the Round of 8 winners. He was the No. 3 seed entering match play; top-seeded Andrew Anderson fell in the Round of 16, while the second-highest qualifier Tackett lost to Krol in the Round of 8.

In the Round of 8, Käyhkö swept Jason Belmonte and did the same to Tom Smallwood in the Round of 16 earlier on Friday.

Käyhkö, who finished 19th in points during the 2023 season, had yet to cash or finish better than 35th in a single event this season. The 27-year-old Finn took a page out of Kyle Troup’s proverbial book by playing Sudoku between shots to quiet his mind.

“When you're 50th every week, it starts to get in your head,” Käyhkö said. “To go from not cashing to being the number one seed, it's amazing. It feels surreal thinking of how the year had started.”

Käyhkö will compete in his third career TV finals after making the 2023 U.S. Open and PBA Players Championships shows. He finished third in the U.S. Open won by EJ Tackett — who himself secured the fifth seed for Sunday's stepladder as the highest qualifier among players who were defeated in the Round of 8.

This marks Tackett’s fifth consecutive championship round appearance, tying the PBA Tour record.

“That’s pretty cool,” Tackett said of tying the record, “but I’d like to win one of them. I’ve got a long way to go in this one, but anything’s possible. I’ve just got to go out there and throw good shots and, eventually, one of these times it's gonna go my way.”

Tackett forced a Game 7 against Krol in the Round of 8, but fell in the deciding game 277-235.


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Seven was the magic number for David “Boog” Krol all week. He led the seven-game pre-tournament qualifier to make the main field, then defeated Tommy Jones and Tackett each in a win-or-go-home Game 7 to earn his first career championship round appearance.

“That was probably the best seven games I’ve bowled this year and my whole life honestly,” Krol said. “Shooting 277 the last game when EJ was kind of figuring it out, like you can't draw it up any better. To make my first telecast going through Tommy and EJ is just insane.”

The 28-year-old Springfield, Mo. native said he wasn’t nervous leading up to either match, but when the lights came on, everything tensed up for a moment — but only a moment.

“This time I didn't go into panic mode like I typically do in match play,” Krol said. “Everything felt different and more confident this time. I didn't second guess anything. After getting to Game 7 against Tommy and having that one make-it-or-break-it game, that was a huge relief. It gave me an edge going into the match against EJ because I had no expectations. I was just happy I was guaranteed eight-place money and eighth-place points. I drove 16 hours to be here. I didn't want to bowl seven games in the PTQ and go home.”

Krol came close to making his first show a few weeks ago at the U.S. Open. He pushed O’Neill in the position round, but came up 40 pins shy to finish sixth.

“I think he's got a long career ahead of him out here. I think he's really good,” O’Neill said. “And I told him that after I beat him to make the show at the U.S. Open. I said, ‘Buddy, you’ve got a long career ahead of you here. Keep doing what you're doing and you're gonna make a ton of shows.’ A couple weeks later, here he is. To see guys make their first show still gets me in the feels after all these years, just watching that emotion because I remember what that was like for me.”

“That whole U.S. Open experience gave me the confidence that I needed to push myself harder,” Krol said. “I've been out here for a couple years on and off. Being so close to that show and having Bill say that to me and Belmo say kind words to me just solidified that I do deserve to be out here. It's only a matter of time before I pop off and make a name for myself.”

O’Neill earned the No. 3 seed after defeating Dom Barrett in the Round of 8. After making his fourth championship round in six events this season, O’Neill, who lives about 90 minutes north in Langhorne, Pa., will have plenty of family driving down to watch on Sunday.

“It's awesome to be able to bowl in front of my family and I don't get to see them when I'm bowling too often,” O’Neill said. “Bowling in front of family adds a little bit more nerves because I want to win for them and I want my kids to be proud of me while they're here.”

In his final frame against Barrett, with the game having already been decided, O’Neill left the 1-2-6-10 — ostensibly the same split that he left and missed twice on the U.S. Open show earlier this season. This time, he made the spare.

“When I left I said, ‘You know what, I'm gonna shoot it how I always shoot it, again, and I’m going to make it,’” O’Neill said laughing. “It wasn't the strategy! There was a reason why I went 5-1 on TV: It was terrible execution. If I leave it again on TV, I'm shooting it that way again.”

The final player to secure a berth on the show was 36-year-old Tim Foy Jr., who lives about an hour south in Seaford, Del. The hometown crowd was out in full force as Foy defeated Nate Stubler in the Round of 8.

Foy took a 3-2 advantage over Stubler, but said he hit the panic button during Game 6. He regrouped and took control of the decisive game.

In the 10th frame of Game 7, Foy spared a 10-pin, which he called the most nerve-wracking 10-pin he has ever shot. Foy said he knew he needed count to shut out Stubler…. and that was all he remembered. He did not know he struck until he watched a video of the final shot.

“That moment was everything,” Foy said. “I don’t know if I could have dreamed of a better way. Baseball players dream of the bottom of the ninth in Game 7, this was that. I made it more exciting than I wanted, but I got the job done.”

Sunday will be Foy’s second time bowling on TV, but he said this is the first show appearance that he actually earned.

Foy finished sixth but was awarded a spot on the 2021 PBA Players Championship East Region Finals show after Bill O’Neill came down with COVID-19 and could not bowl. Foy lost to Chris Via, who shot 300, in the opening match.

Instead of an empty crowd, Foy will have dozens of his closest family members and friends cheering his name this Sunday.

The PBA Delaware Classic finals will be held Sunday, March 3 at noon ET on FS1. Tickets are available here.

More information on the PBA Delaware Classic is available here.

Round of 16 Results

No. 17 Tim Foy Jr. def. No. 1 Andrew Anderson, 4-3
No. 9 Nate Stubler def. No. 8 Jason Sterner, 4-3

No. 2 EJ Tackett def. No. 15 Nathan Bohr, 4-2
No. 7 David Krol def. No. 10 Tommy Jones, 4-3

No. 3 Tomas Käyhkö def. No. 19 Tom Smallwood, 4-0
No. 11 Jason Belmonte def. No. 6 Kyle Troup, 4-1

No. 4 Dom Barrett def. No. 13 Kevin McCune, 4-0
No. 12 Bill O’Neill def. No. 5 Chris Via, 4-0

Round of 8 Results

No. 17 Tim Foy Jr. def. No. 9 Nate Stubler, 4-3

No. 7 David Krol def. No. 2 EJ Tackett*, 4-3

No. 3 Tomas Käyhkö def. No. 11 Jason Belmonte, 4-0

No. 12 Bill O’Neill def. No. 4 Dom Barrett, 4-2

Full scores are available here.

*Tackett earned the No. 5 seed for the stepladder finals as the highest qualifier among players who were defeated in the Round of 8.

PBA Delaware Classic Schedule

Mid County Lanes & Entertainment | Middletown, Del.

All times Eastern

Sunday, March 3
Noon ET — PBA Delaware Classic finals on FS1