RENO, Nev. (Jan. 7, 2018) – Top World Bowling Tour Finals qualifiers Jason Belmonte of Australia and Latvia’s Diana Zavjalova capped a 2017 PBA/WBT season with wins in the World Bowling Tour Men’s and Women’s Finals televised Sunday on ESPN from the National Bowling Stadium.
The Finals, which were part of GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling IX presented by Eldorado Resort Reno Properties and the 2017-18 Go Bowling! PBA Tour season, used the experimental “Current Frame” WBT scoring system which awards 30 points for a strike, 10 plus pinfall on first ball of the frame for a spare, and the total pinfall for the frame for an open. There are no bonus or “fill” shots in the 10th frame and the maximum score is still 300.
The World Bowling Tour Finals featured the top three players in WBT points in men’s and women’s divisions during the 2017 season with each division competing in a separate stepladder final.
Heading into the ninth frame of the drama-filled men’s championship match with a 10-pin lead, No. 3 qualifier and last year’s third-place finisher Marshall Kent of Yakima, Wash., failed to convert a 10 pin spare leaving the door open for a Belmonte win in the 10th.
In the 10th, Belmonte closed with a 267 game forcing Kent to strike to tie the match. Kent came through with a pressure-filled solid pocket hit to also close with 267 forcing a sudden-death roll-off. Belmonte won the roll-off with a strike in the first frame to Kent’s eight-count after he left the 2-8.
“Yeah, I was worried,” said Belmonte referring to Kent’s fast start with the first five strikes in a row. “Fortunately, after the spare in the first frame I was able to put five strikes together to get back in the match and then it was like anything could happen at that point.”
For Belmonte, it was his second consecutive WSOB IX win after his recent milestone PBA World Championship win on ESPN for a record third major win of the season and ninth of his career.
“It’s a unique feeling the pressure you feel to get a strike when it comes down to one shot after you’ve travelled the world to get to this point,” Belmonte added. “The pressure you feel to get a strike was like the inside of your body wanting to be on the outside.”
In the semi-final match, Kent advanced to the championship match with a 231-224 win over No. 2 qualifier Jesper Svensson of Sweden, who finished second to Belmonte in the World Championship.
In another tightly contested title match, Zavjalova beat two-time defending champion Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, N.Y., 235-232, to win the women’s final.
With the match even in the fifth frame, McEwan opened in the sixth after missing a 1-2-4-10 washout giving Zavjalova a 25-pin lead. However, McEwan was able to come back and overtake Zavjalova with an eight-pin lead after striking in the seventh, eighth and ninth frames while Zavjalova could only manage spares in those frames.
With the match coming down to the 10th, Zavjalova finished with a strike to post her 235. Needing a strike to win, McEwan left a solid 10 pin handing the win to Zavjalova.
“I didn’t feel comfortable in the middle of the game, but that’s going to happen now and then,” said Zavjalova, who was competing in her first WBT final. “I just had to deal with what was in front of me and hope it was good enough to win.
“When Danielle put those three strikes together at the end of the game I thought I had lost the match,” she added. “After I struck in the 10th it was out of my hands at that point—whatever happens, happens. It was just my day today.”
In the semifinal, McEwan defeated international standout Shalin Zulkifli of Malaysia 244-231 to advance to the title match.
WORLD BOWLING TOUR FINALS
Presented by PBA
National Bowling Stadium, Reno, Nev.
(aired Jan. 7 on ESPN)
1, Diana Zavjalova, Latvia, $12,500.
2, Danielle McEwan, Stony Point, N.Y., $7,500.
3, Shalin Zulkifli, Malaysia, $5,000.
First match: McEwan def. Zulkifli, 244-231; Championship match: Zavjalova def. McEwan, 235-232.
1, Jason Belmonte, Australia, $12,500.
2, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., $7,500.
3, Jesper Svensson, Sweden, $5,000.
First match: Marshall def. Svensson, 231-224; Championship match: Belmonte tied Marshall, 267-267. Belmonte won one-ball roll-off, 10-8.