Belmonte Recovers From Slow Start in First Match Play Round to Regain Lead in PBA Players Championship

by Jerry Schneider  |  Thursday, February 14, 7:41 PM

Belmonte Recovers From Slow Start in First Match Play Round to Regain Lead in PBA Players Championship

COLUMBUS, Ohio  – After losing his first two matches and falling as far down as seventh, Australia’s Jason Belmonte finished strong by posting a 5-3 record to regain his lead after the first match play round of the PBA Players Championship Thursday at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl.

Trying for a record 11th PBA major title, Belmonte finished the day with a 6,124 26-game pinfall total, which includes 30 bonus pins for each match win, to hold a 127-pin lead over defending champion Tom Smallwood of Saginaw, Mich., in second who had a 6-2 match play record and 5,997 pinfall.

Smallwood beat Belmonte 259-239 in the title match of the 2018 Players Championship for his second major and third career tour title.

Belmonte, who won the PBA Tournament of Champions last Sunday for his 10th major to tie Hall of Famers Pete Weber and Earl Anthony for first on the all-time list, won with games of 257, 225, 268, 289 and 249 and lost with games of 186, 205 and 186 in the first match play round.

“I got off to a bad start because I was playing the lanes the way I wanted to play them and not the way the conditions dictated I should play them,” said the two-time Players Championship winner. “I was having trouble getting the big games down the stretch, but fortunately, I was able to get a run at the end of the round.

“Generally, the lanes are playing tight down lane and there’s not enough friction to get a consistent roll into the pocket,” Belmonte, a four-time PBA Player of the Year added. “You just have to learn from your experience throughout the tournament and pull out whatever tricks you can to get the ball to the pocket consistently.”

Four-time PBA Tour winner Anthony Simonsen of Little Elm, Texas, rode 6-1-1 record and averaged 233.5 in the first match play round to surge from 21st into third with a 5,959 pinfall. Simonsen, who became the youngest to win a major when he won the 2016 USBC Masters at age 19, is trying for his second major title.

PBA Hall of Famer Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, compiled a 7-1 record and 5,905 pinfall to move into fourth while Brad Miller of Lees Summitt, Mo., finished the day in fifth with a 4-4 record match play and 5,893 pinfall.

Match play continues Friday with rounds at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET which will determine the top five players for Sunday’s live stepladder finals on FS1 at 1 p.m. ET. The Players Championship, the second major of the Go Bowling! PBA Tour season, will offer a $1 million bonus if a player can bowl a 300 game in Sunday’s title match.

Fans can catch all the match play action on through PBA’s online streaming partner, FloBowling. For schedule and subscription information visit FloBowling.com.

PBA PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP

Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl, Columbus, Ohio, Thursday

FOURTH ROUND RESULTS (after 26 games. Includes match play record and total pinfall including bonus pins)

1, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 5-3, 6,124.
2, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 6-2, 5,997.
3, Anthony Simonsen, Little Elm, Texas, 6-1-1, 5,959.
4, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 7-1, 5,905.
5, Brad Miller, Lees Summit, Mo., 4-4, 5,893.
6, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 3-4-1, 5,831.
7, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 3-5, 5,807.
8, Tom Daugherty, Riverview, Fla., 4-4, 5,802.
9, Zacharay Wilkins, Canada, 6-2, 5,795.
10, EJ Tackett, Bluffton, Ind., 4-4, 5,794.
11, DJ Archer, Spring, Texas, 5-2-1, 5,790.
12, Thomas Larsen, Denmark, 5-3, 5,788.
13, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 4-4, 5,768.
14, Kyle Troup, Taylorsville, N.C., 4-4, 5,758.
15, Stuart Williams, England, 4-3-1, 5,733.
16, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 4-4, 5,726.
17, AJ Chapman, Manchester, Iowa, 2-6, 5,717.
18, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 3-5, 5,712.
19, Zeke Bayt, Westerville, Ohio, 4-4, 5,615.
20, Jesper Svensson, Sweden, 1-7, 5,578.
21, A.J. Rice, Salem, Ala., 2-6-0, 5,575.
21, Connor Pickford, Charlotte, N.C., 4-4, 5,575.
23, Kristopher Prather, Plainfield, Ill., 2-6, 5,550.
24, Osku Palermaa, Finland, 2-6, 5,487.

300 games – Stuart Williams