CHICAGO, Ill. (Jan. 23, 2018) - If he hasn’t already, Australian two-hander Jason Belmonte is most certainly on the verge of adding his name to a list of elite PBA icons.
Belmonte concluded the 2017 PBA Tour season by winning the PBA World Championship at the age of 34. With his victory over fellow two-hander Jesper Svensson of Sweden, 238-225, in the title match, the Australian star collected his ninth career major title and a record three in one season. He trails only PBA greats Earl Anthony and Pete Weber who are tied at the top of the all-time list of PBA major title winners with 10 each.
Belmonte’s first assault on the majors record will come when the PBA Tournament of Champions – PBA’s signature championship – returns to its historic home at AMF Riviera Lanes in the Akron suburb of Fairlawn, Ohio, Feb. 5-11 with the live ESPN finals airing Sunday, Feb. 11 at 1 p.m. ET.
“I’m honored to be one win away from arguably the two best bowlers who ever lived on the all-time majors list,” Belmonte said after his World Championship win at the recent GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling IX. “I don’t know how I’ll feel if I get to 10 majors, but I’ll tell you that winning No. 9 was a pretty good feeling.”
In all, Belmonte’s major wins make up more than half of his 16 career PBA Tour titles and include a record four USBC Masters titles (2013, 2014, 2015, 2017), two Tournament of Champions titles (2014, 2015) and two Barbasol PBA Players Championship titles (2011, 2017) in addition to his World Championship crown. He is a U.S. Open title away from the PBA Triple Crown (U.S. Open, TOC and PBA World Championship, Grand Slam (Triple Crown plus Masters) and the “Super Slam” (Grand Slam plus Players Championship). A third TOC title would put him in elite company with PBA Hall of Famers Mike Durbin and Jason Couch, who are the only players to accomplish that feat.
“To be in this position at this stage of my career is really something I couldn’t have dreamed of,” Belmonte added. “Obviously, going forward my immediate goals are to surpass Earl and Pete but it’s not an easy task.
“Having won the Tournament of Champions and the Players Championship twice, I’m going into those tournaments with confidence but to win a major is difficult for the simple reason they demand more from you than other tournaments.”
Entering his 10th Tour season, Belmonte also will have his eye on setting a record for shortest time to reach 10 major titles. He already owns the mark for shortest time span to win nine major titles. Since winning his first major in the 2011 Players Championship at age 27, Belmonte has won his nine major titles over a span of seven seasons (2011-17). It took Anthony 11 seasons to win his first nine majors since winning the 1973 PBA National Championship for his first major (1973-83), and it took Weber 26 seasons to accomplish the same feat after winning the 1987 Tournament of Champions in 1987 (1987-2012). Both Weber, a right-handed bowler, and Anthony, a left-hander, would go on to win their 10th major titles in the next season they bowled.
Belmonte’s success using his two-handed style has not been overlooked by the bowling world. His influence has created a legion of young bowlers who are taking up the two-handed delivery, and with increasing levels of success.
“I had no idea that the technique would become so popular,” Belmonte said. “However, I understand that the more success I have – and other two-handers as well – it will create more and more awareness of the style and also intrigue for bowlers to try it. I believe the style is now seen not as just a gimmick style, but as a style to be taken seriously by fans, coaches and bowlers around the world.”
After the TOC, Belmonte will compete in the Go Bowling! 60th Anniversary Classic – a standard PBA Tour event – at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis Feb. 13-18. He will then have another opportunity to win a major when the Barbasol PBA Players Championship, the second major of the 2018 Go Bowling! PBA Tour season, returns to Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl in Columbus Feb. 19-25 with the finals airing live Sunday, Feb. 25 at 1 p.m. ET. The USBC Masters, U.S. Open and PBA World Championship will be held later in the year.
BELMONTE MAJORS SUMMARY (through 2017 PBA World Championship)
Career major tournaments: 40
Career major titles: 9
Career major Top 5 finishes: 19
Career major Top 10 finishes: 28
TOP 5 PBA MAJOR CHAMPIONS (with number of wins and age at last major win)
Earl Anthony, 10 (last major win at age 46)
Pete Weber, 10 (last major win at age 50)
Jason Belmonte, 9 (won 2017 PBA World Championship at age 34)
Mike Aulby, 8 (last major win at age 38)
W.R. Williams Jr., 8 (last major win at age 50)