Bill O’Neill Captures Top Seed for PBA Tournament of Champions Finals

by Jerry Schneider  |  Friday, February 07, 8:53 PM

Bill O’Neill Captures Top Seed for PBA Tournament of Champions Finals

FAIRLAWN, Ohio  – As the top seed for the stepladder finals of the 55th PBA Tournament of Champions, 11-time Go Bowling PBA Tour winner Bill O’Neill of Langhorne, Pennsylvania, will need to win one match for his second major title, while defending champion Jason Belmonte of Australia will try for a record fourth win in PBA’s signature tournament as the No. 3 seed.

The finals telecast for the season’s first major will air Sunday on FOX at 5 p.m. ET from AMF Riviera Lanes. In addition to the $100,000 first prize, a $1 million bonus will be paid if the winner bowls a 300 game in the title match.

O’Neill earned the top seed with a 9,717 42-game pinfall total including bonus pins, which was boosted by a 19-5 record in match play.

“I’ve been working hard on improving my physical and mental game over the past couple years which has enabled me to make more of a commitment to the adjustments I have to make,” said the 38-year-old O’Neill who won the 2010 U.S. Open for his lone major title. “If I have a bad game or run into trouble, I have much more confidence that I can dig myself out of it.

“I bowled consistently well the whole tournament and really was never in a situation where I felt I was losing momentum,” he added. “Now it’s time to work on a game plan for Sunday, commit to it and go out there and figure out a way to win.”

Qualifying second for the finals was 23-year-old two-hander Anthony Simonsen of Little Elm, Texas who finished with a 9,674 pinfall and 14-10 record in match play.

Looking to make some more major tournament history of his own, the seven-time tour winner became the youngest player to win two majors when he defeated Belmonte 232-212 in the title match to win 2019 PBA Players Championship at age 22. He won the 2016 USBC Masters at age 19 to become the youngest to win a major.

For the second time in three years, the 36-year-old Belmonte who is the all-time majors win leader with 11 titles, narrowly made the cut to match play taking the 24th and final match play spot and worked his way up the standings during match play to qualify third for the finals.

After making the cut to match play by one pin, the five-time and reigning PBA Player of the Year earned the No. 3 seed with a 9,594 pinfall and 17-7 match play record.

In 2018 the Australian two-hander took the last match play spot by just seven pins and made a steady climb through three rounds of match play to qualify third for the stepladder finals finishing fourth in the tournament after losing the second stepladder match to eventual winner Matt O’Grady, 229-225.

Belmonte’s win in the 2019 Tournament of Champions was his 10th major title which tied Pete Weber and Earl Anthony for first on the all-time major titles list.  He won the PBA World Championship for his 11th major win a few weeks later to take sole possession of first on the all-time list.

Sunday’s stepladder finals will open with a match between two players from suburban Chicago.

Two-time tour winner Kris Prather of Plainfield, Illinois, who won the inaugural PBA Playoffs in 2019, earned the No. 4 seed with a 13-11 match play record and 9,393 pinfall. He will meet 15-time tour titlist and 2012 Tournament of Champions winner Sean Rash of Montgomery, Illinois, who earned the fifth seed with a 12-12 match play record and 9,371 pinfall.


(a 2020 Go Bowling PBA Tour Tier 1 event)   
AMF Riviera Lanes, Fairlawn, Ohio, Friday


(after 42 games. Top five advance to Sunday’s stepladder finals. Includes match play record and total pinfall including bonus pins)

1, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 19-5, 9,717.
2, Anthony Simonsen, Little Elm, Texas, 14-10, 9,674.
3, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 17-7, 9,594
4, Kristopher Prather, Plainfield, Ill., 13-11, 9,393
5, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 12-12, 9,371.
6, Kyle Troup, Taylorsville, N.C., 15-8-1, 9,368, $8,000.
7, EJ Tackett, Bluffton, Ind., 13-11, 9,353, $7,000.
8, Stuart Williams, England, 14-10, 9,290, $6,000.
9, Dom Barrett, England, 12-11-1, 9,279, $5,500.
10, Kyle Sherman, O'Fallon, Mo., 10-14, 9,272, $5,000.
11, Mitch Hupe, Canada, 12-11-1, 9,268, $4,800.
12, Tom Daugherty, Riverview, Fla., 12-12, 9,207, $4,600.
13, Andrew Anderson, Holly, Mich., 12-12, 9,193, $4,400.
14, Josh Blanchard, Mesa, Ariz., 12-12, 9,192, $4,200.
15, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 10-14, 9,183, $4,000.
16, Dick Allen, Lexington, S.C., 15-9, 9,119, $3,800.
17, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 10-14, 9,053, $3,700.
18, Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y., 10-14, 9,033, $3,600.
19, AJ Chapman, Manchester, Iowa, 11-13, 9,023, $3,500.
20, Richard Teece, England, 10-13-1, 8,992, $3,400.
21, AJ Johnson, Oswego, Ill., 8-16, 8,958, $3,400.
22, Patrick Dombrowski, Parma, Ohio, 11-12-1, 8,861, $3,200.
23, Cristian Azcona, Puerto Rico, 10-13-1, 8,751, $3,200.
24, Connor Pickford, Charlotte, N.C., 3-21, 8,241, $3,000.


(after 34 games. Includes match play record and total pinfall including bonus pins. All players advanced to final match play round)

1, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 14-2, 7,858.
2, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 12-4, 7,774.
3, Anthony Simonsen, Little Elm, Texas, 8-8, 7,721.
4, EJ Tackett, Bluffton, Ind., 10-6, 7,670.
5, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 8-8, 7,615.
6, Kristopher Prather, Plainfield, Ill., 9-7, 7,613.
7, Dom Barrett, England, 9-6-1, 7,570.
8, Kyle Sherman, O'Fallon, Mo., 7-9, 7,556.
9, Tom Daugherty, Riverview, Fla., 9-7, 7,537.
10, Andrew Anderson, Holly, Mich., 9-7, 7,536.
11, Mitch Hupe, Canada, 8-7-1, 7,475.
12, Kyle Troup, Taylorsville, N.C., 10-6, 7,467.
13, Dick Allen, Lexington, S.C., 11-5, 7,439.
14, Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y., 8-8, 7,417.
15, AJ Chapman, Manchester, Iowa, 9-7, 7,393.
16, Josh Blanchard, Mesa, Ariz., 7-9, 7,385.
17, Stuart Williams, England, 7-9, 7,364.
18, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 5-11, 7,358.
19, AJ Johnson, Oswego, Ill., 6-10, 7,346.
20, Cristian Azcona, Puerto Rico, 7-8-1, 7,245.
21, Richard Teece, England, 5-10-1, 7,149.
22, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 4-12, 7,148.
23, Patrick Dombrowski, Parma, Ohio, 7-9, 7,093.
24, Connor Pickford, Charlotte, N.C., 1-15, 6,654.