Russell Earns Top Qualifier Honors for PBA TOC; Belmonte Narrowly Makes Match Play Finishing 24th

by Jerry Schneider  |  Thursday, February 08, 1:21 PM

FAIRLAWN, Ohio -- Four-time PBA Tour winner Ronnie Russell of Marion, Ind., averaged 231 to earn top qualifier honors in the PBA Tournament of Champions leading 24 players into this evening’s first match play round at AMF Riviera Lanes.

Russell retained his second round lead with a 1,376 six-game pinfall total in the third round finishing qualifying with a 4,166 overall pinfall total for 18 games. He holds a 75-pin lead over four-time regional titlist Matt O’Grady of Rahway, N.J., in second who posted a 4,091 pinfall total.

“I’ve really been relying on my equipment to this point,” said the 38-year-old Russell. “I’ve got a good rotation of two or three balls that I’m using and I’m making the right decisions at the right time for the most part.

“Heading into match play the plan is the old cliché, just take it one frame and one game at a time.”

After finishing qualifying in third after the second round, two-time TOC winner and four-time PBA Player of the Year Jason Belmonte struggled in the third round finishing with a 237 game to narrowly make the 24th and final match play spot by seven pins.

Belmonte, who is trying for his 10th PBA major title to tie PBA Hall of Famers Pete Weber and Earl Anthony for most major wins, finished qualifying with a 3,920 pinfall. The two-hander got off to a bad start with games of 186, 187, 171, in the third round before finishing with games of 228, 188 and 237.

“I’m a little down on my energy because the jetlag seems to have affected me more than usual this trip,” said the Australian. “My energy level has been pretty low and frankly I’m kind of exhausted right now. I’m hoping I can get the energy level back for tonight’s (match play) round.

“Fortunately, there are a lot of games left and anything can happen in match play especially with the bonus pins,” the 2014 and 2015 TOC winner added. “There’s a long way to go and I hope I can make the best of it.”

Tonight’s first match play round will consist of eight head-to-head single-game matches with 30 bonus points awarded for a match win.

Match play continues Friday with rounds at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET. After Friday’s match play the top five players will be determined for Sunday’s live stepladder finals on ESPN at 1 p.m. ET.

Fans can catch TOC match play rounds live on PBA’s online bowling channel Xtra Frame. For subscription and schedule information visit

TOC Stats by Lanetalk

After qualifying, the average for the 80-player field was 211.34. The first and third rounds both saw averages in the 213 range  but dropped to 208 in the second mainly because of a dramatic decrease in spare shooting.

Kyle Troup and Chris Warren are the bowlers with the highest pin carry percentages getting around 85% strikes on  pocket hits. 

Ronnie Russell leads the qualifying thanks to a combination of a high percentage of pocket hits (third highest), and a low number of splits.

For comparison, Russell had a 63.8 strike percentage and Belmonte had a 59.1 strike percentage. Belmonte also threw splits on 10 percent of his first ball shots which is approximately 2 percent more than the average.


AMF Riviera Lanes, Fairlawn, Ohio, Thursday

Third Round Standings (after 18 games. Top 24 advance to Thursday evening’s match play round)

1, Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind., 4,166.
2, Matt O'Grady, Rahway, N.J., 4,091.
3, Kristopher Prather, Plainfield, Ill., 4,081.
4, Anthony Simonsen, Austin, Texas, 4,065.
5, Kyle Troup, Taylorsville, N.C., 4,060.
6, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 4,054.
7, Chris Warren, Grants Pass, Ore., 4,053.
8, Andrew Anderson, Holly, Mich., 4,049.
9, (tie) BJ Moore III, Greensburg, Pa., and Jesper Svensson, Sweden, 4,000.
11, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 3,984.
12, EJ Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 3,967.
13, Shawn Maldonado, Houston, Texas, 3,965.
14, Mitch Beasley, Clarksville, Tenn., 3,964.
15, Tom Daugherty, Riverview, Fla., 3,963.
16, Matthew Sanders, Evansville, Ind., 3,948.
17, Jakob Butturff, Tempe, Ariz., 3,947.
18, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 3,943.
19, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 3,939.
20, Connor Pickford, Charlotte, N.C., 3,930.
21, Kyle Sherman, O'Fallon, Mo., 3,929.
22, Kurt Pilon, Warren, Mich., 3,927.
23, DJ Archer, Friendswood, Texas, 3,925.
24, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 3,920.

Failed to advance:
25, Francois Lavoie, Canada, 3,913, $3,000.
26, Dick Allen, Columbia, S.C., 3,906.
27, Yannaphon Larpapharat, Thailand, 3,899.
28, Jake Peters, Henderson, Nev., 3,897.
29, Brandon Novak, Chillicothe, Ohio, 3,887.
30, Ryan Ciminelli, Clarence, N.Y., 3,883.
31, Jason Sterner, Rockledge, Fla., 3,882.
32, Dom Barrett, England, 3,881.
33, Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y., 3,880.
34, Jon Van Hees, Charlestown, R.I., 3,878.
35, Josh Blanchard, Mesa, Ariz., 3,871.
36, Greg Ostrander, Freehold, N.J., 3,868.
37, Rhino Page, Orlando, 3,848.
38, Thomas Larsen, Denmark, 3,846.
39, AJ Johnson, Oswego, Ill., 3,845.
40, Cristian Azcona, Puerto Rico, 3,835.
41, Osku Palermaa, Finland, 3,829.
42, Stuart Williams, England, 3,822.
43, Andres Gomez, Colombia, 3,820.
44, (tie) Chris Arcaro, Carolina Beach, N.C., and Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 3,817.
46, Anthony Lavery-Spahr, Pasadena, Texas, 3,816.
47, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Oxford, Fla., 3,811.
48, Patrick Dombrowski, Parma, Ohio, 3,810.
49, Darren Tang, San Francisco, 3,808.
50, Chris Via, Springfield, Ohio, 3,768.
51, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, 3,758.
52, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 3,744.
53, Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y., 3,737.
54, Richie Teece, England, 3,736.
55, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 3,731.
56, Anthony Pepe, Elmhurst, N.Y., 3,714.
57, Gary Faulkner Jr., Memphis, Tenn., 3,713.
58, Aaron Lorincz, Center Line, Mich., 3,707.
59, Joe Bailey, Wooster, Ohio, 3,705.
60, Graham Fach, Canada, 3,692.
61, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 3,691.
62, Brad Miller, Maryland Heights, Mo., 3,687.
63, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 3,677.
64, Amleto Monacelli, Venezuela, 3,666.
65, Tim Foy Jr., Seaford, Del., 3,665.
66, Sean Lavery-Spahr, Pasadena, Texas, 3,660.
67, Kyle Mayberry, Mt. Vernon, Ohio, 3,656.
68, Tom Hess, Urbandale, Iowa, 3,645.
69, Cameron Weier, Tacoma, Wash., 3,618.
70, Kyle Bigelow, Troy, Ohio, 3,607.
71, Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J., 3,575.
72, Brian Robinson, Morgantown, W.Va., 3,570.
73, Anthony LaCaze, Melrose Park, Ill., 3,567.
74, Andrew Klingler, Grand Rapids, Mich., 3,549.
75, Liz Johnson, Palatine, Ill., 3,531.
76, (tie) Michael Clark Jr., Cleveland, Ohio, and Scott Newell, Deland, Fla., 3,515.
78, Ed Carter, Austintown, Ohio, 3,329.
79, John Petraglia, Jackson, N.J., 3,262.
80, JT Jackson, Sherman Oaks, Calif., 3,096.