COLUMBUS, Ohio (Feb. 10, 2017) – After earning top qualifier honors for the Barbasol PBA Players Championship finals Friday, three-time PBA Player of the Year Jason Belmonte will need to win only one match to capture his seventh major title and first Tour win in two years.
After Friday’s fifth round, the Australian two-hander finished with a 9,249 40-game pinfall total (231.2 average) to clinch the top berth for Sunday’s Players Championship finals at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl.
After nearly three years of dominance, in 2013, 2014 and 2015, when he won his Player of the Year crowns, Belmonte’s dry spell started after he won the USBC Masters and Tournament of Champions back-to-back in February of 2015. Since then he has finished in the top five in 16 PBA Tour tournaments without a win finishing second in five of those events.
“I feel as good as I’ve ever felt bowling in a tournament,” said the 12-time Tour titlist. “I just need to focus on what I need to do and eliminate the distractions. I’ve always had 100 percent belief in myself so whatever happens in the championship match I’ll walk away with my head held high.
“After last year the weight is off my shoulders,” Belmonte added. “I didn’t get the wins last year but I was bowling well. “It’s a new season and now I just need to focus on what I need to do in each tournament and let the season unfold.”
In addition to winning the 2011 Players Championship for his first major, Belmonte won a record three consecutive USBC Masters (2013, 2014 and 2015) and won back-to-back PBA Tournament of Champions titles in 2014 and 2015.
Qualifying second for the finals was another two-hander, Anthony Simonsen of Austin, Texas, just 20 pins behind Belmonte with a 9,229 pinfall total. The 20-year-old two-time Tour winner, who became the youngest to win a major when he won the 2016 USBC Masters at 19, will be trying to become the youngest player to win two majors.
Trying for his first PBA Tour title, Martin Larsen of Sweden, qualified third with a 9,083 pinfall. He owns four career runner-up Tour finishes and with a win in the Players Championship would become eligible for next week’s FireLake PBA Tournament of Champions in Shawnee, Okla.
Sunday’s opening stepladder match will feature No. 4 qualifier, former Wichita State standout and current Team USA member A.J. Chapman bowling against No. 5 qualifier one-time Tour winner Connor Pickford of Plano, Texas. Chapman finished with an 8,958 pinfall while Pickford finished with 8,946.
Chapman will be trying to become only the third player in Tour history to win a title in his first tournament as a PBA member. The two others were Brian Davis, who won the 1993 Harrisburg (Pa.) Open and Mike McGrath who won the 1965 Portland (Ore.) Open.
In addition to ESPN’s coverage, the Players Championship will be simulcast on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN mobile app for those who would like to watch on-line or on mobile devices.
BARBASOL PBA PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP
Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl, Columbus, Ohio, Friday
Fifth Round Standings (after 40 games. Top five advanced to Sunday’s live ESPN finals at 1 p.m. EST)
1, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 9,249. 2, Anthony Simonsen, Austin, Texas, 9,229. 3, Martin Larsen, Sweden, 9,083. 4, AJ Chapman, Wichita, Kan., 8,958. 5, Connor Pickford, Plano Texas, 8,946.
Did not advance: 6, Andrew Anderson, Holly, Mich., 8,942, $8,000. 7, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 8,940, $7,000. 8, Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind., 8,924, $6,100. 9, Bill O’Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 8,896, $5,500. 10, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 8,879, $5,000. 11, Jakob Butturff, Tempe, Ariz., 8,846, $4,500. 12, Tom Daugherty, Riverview, Fla., 8,839, $4,200. 13, Shawn Maldonado, Houston, 8,826, $3,900. 14, DJ Archer, Friendswood, Texas, 8,785, $3,600. 15, Francois Lavoie, Canada, 8,776, $3,400. 16, Jeff Evans, Supply, N.C., 8,725, $3,300.
Fourth Round Standings (after 32 games. Top 16 players advanced to fifth round)
1, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 7,489. 2, Anthony Simonsen, Austin, Texas, 7,305. 3, Jakob Butturff, Tempe, Ariz., 7,266. 4, Martin Larsen, Sweden, 7,219. 5, Connor Pickford, Charlotte, N.C., 7,170. 6, DJ Archer, Friendswood, Texas, 7,159. 7, Shawn Maldonado, Houston, 7,126. 8, AJ Chapman, Wichita, Kan., 7,124. 9, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 7,121. 10, Bill O’Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 7,114. 11, Jeff Evans, Supply, N.C., 7,098. 12, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 7,079. 13, Tom Daugherty, Riverview, Fla., 7,075. 14, Andrew Anderson, Holly, Mich., 7,065. 15, Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind., 7,051. 16, Francois Lavoie, Canada, 7,048.
Did not advance: 17, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 7,026, $2,900. 18, Jason Sterner, Rockledge, Fla., 7,011, $2,700. 19, Patrick Dombrowski, Parma, Ohio, 6,981, $2,600. 20, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 6,920, $2,500. 21, Graham Fach, Canada, 6,892, $2,500. 22, Cameron Weier, Tacoma, Wash., 6,871, $2,300. 23, Anthony Lavery-Spahr, Pasadena, Texas, 6,857, $2,200. 24, Jesse Buss, Belvidere, Ill., 6,834, $2,100.