Svensson Wins PBA Cheetah Championship; Tackett Tames the Scorpion

by Bill Vint, Professional Bowlers Association 0

Former Rookies of the Year continue to set the pace for PBA’s youth movement

RENO, Nev. – Two former Professional Bowlers Association Rookies of the Year, Jesper Svensson of Sweden and EJ Tackett of Huntington, Ind., continued to set a high standard for the PBA’s youth movement with victories in the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling IX, presented by Eldorado Resorts Reno Properties at the National Bowling Stadium.

Svensson, the 22-year-old 2015 PBA Rookie of the Year, defeated Denmark’s Thomas Larsen, 245-194, to win the PBA Cheetah Championship presented by PBA Bowling Challenge Mobile Game for his seventh career PBA Tour title while Tackett, the 25-year-old 2013 Rookie of the Year, picked up his ninth title with a 245-207 victory over Australia’s Jason Belmonte in the Pepsi PBA Scorpion Championship presented by

The Cheetah and Scorpion Championships were the final two PBA animal pattern championships conducted during the WSOB IX and aired back-to-back Sunday on ESPN as part of the 2017-18 Go Bowling! PBA Tour package.

Svensson, a hard-throwing left-handed two-handed player, struck on eight of his first nine shots, overpowering Larsen despite missing a 7 pin spare attempt in the fourth frame for his only flaw.

“By the end of the first match, I got lined up so I thought if I threw good shots, I’d have a good chance to win,” said Svensson, who finished the preliminary round game with a string of eight strikes. “I screwed up a little when I missed that single pin, but I got right back in it.”

If there was anything unusual about the match, it was an extraordinary level of intensity by the normally sedate, emotionless Swede.

“It was by far the most emotional title I’ve ever won,” Svensson admitted. “Things have happened at home while I was here that…” He stumbled and added, “This title means more to other people than just me. I’m just really, really happy I could finish it off. I had a friend who passed away a week ago and I really believe he was watching me today. This one is for him, 100 percent. There’s nothing I can do but continue doing what I love to do. It makes me appreciate that even more.”

To reach the Cheetah Championship telecast Svensson edged Larsen in the four-player shootout preliminary, 259-256, but both advanced to the title match while Australia’s Sam Cooley (236) and Jason Belmonte (222) were eliminated with the lowest scores.

In the second match of the ESPN doubleheader, Tackett made his only WSOB IX television appearance count, striking on five of his first six shots and adding another string of three strikes late in his match against Belmonte, the two-handed Australian star who is the leading challenger to displace Tackett as PBA Player of the Year in 2017. The win was Tackett’s fourth of the year, one ahead of Belmonte, but two of Belmonte’s titles are majors and he’ll have a shot at another one in next Sunday’s PBA World Championship finals.

Tackett not only realized where he stood compared to Belmonte in the competitive ranks, but he knew Belmonte was bowling at less than his physical best after an acute attack of food poisoning the night before.

“I found out Jason wasn’t feeling well, but before the first game, I told him to dig deep…and after the first match, I told him to just keep on going, and he did,” Tackett said. “I told him that we should finish the year on a high note, and we did. It could have gone either way.

“I knew the only chance I had (for Player of the Year) after the first few days here was to make this show and win,” Tackett added. “In my eyes, (Belmonte) wins by a landslide, but if he doesn’t win the (PBA World Championship), I think it’ll be a pretty close vote. It’s out of my hands.”

Belmonte’s 269 topped the preliminary shootout. Tackett was second with a 258 while Brandon Novak of Chillicothe, Ohio (242) and Shawn Maldonado of Houston, Texas (225) were eliminated.

ESPN’s coverage of the Go Bowling! PBA Tour’s WSOB IX package continues on Sunday, Dec. 31 at 1 p.m. EST with the PBA World Championship finals that will feature Svensson, Belmonte, and three other PBA Tour titlists – Kyle Troup of Taylorsville, N.C.; Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, N.Y., and rookie Matt Sanders of Evansville, Ind.


National Bowling Stadium, Reno, Nev., Nov. 18 (finals aired on ESPN on Dec. 24)

Championship: Jesper Svensson, Sweden ($20,000) def. Thomas Larsen, Denmark ($10,000), 245-194.

Shootout Match (top two scorers advance to championship match): Svensson 259; Larsen 256; Sam Cooley, Australia, 236 ($5,000); Jason Belmonte, Australia, 222 ($4,000).


National Bowling Stadium, Reno, Nev., Nov. 18 (finals aired on ESPN on Dec. 24)

Championship: EJ Tackett, Huntington, Ind. ($20,000) def. Jason Belmonte, Australia ($10,000), 245-207.

Shootout Match (top two scorers advance to championship match): Belmonte 269; Tackett 258; Brandon Novak, Chillicothe, Ohio, 242 ($5,000); Shawn Maldonado, Houston, 225 ($4,000).