COLUMBUS, Ohio (Feb. 17, 2019) – Anthony Simonsen, a 22-year-old two-hander from Little Elm Texas, won the PBA Players Championship Sunday to become the youngest player to win two PBA major titles, while denying Australia’s Jason Belmonte a record 11th career major crown.
In a battle between two players who use a two-handed delivery, Simonsen, the No. 2 qualifier for the stepladder finals, beat No. 1 qualifier Belmonte 232-212 in the title match at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl for his sixth career title.
The 35-year-old Belmonte, who was also trying for his second consecutive major title after winning last week’s PBA Tournament of Champions, held a three-pin lead in the fifth frame of the title match when Simonsen left a 4-6-7-9-10 split after being distracted by a cell phone. Both players then threw strikes from the sixth through the ninth frames but Belmonte left the door open for Simonsen when he left a pocket 7-10 split on the first shot of the 10th frame.
“I had to reset after I heard the cell phone but it really just came down to a bad shot,” said Simonsen about his first ball in the fifth frame. “I was still confident I could refocus, get back to throwing good shots and execute the way I needed to.
“I was fortunate to get the momentum back and be able to keep the pressure on Jason,” Simonsen added. “I had the feeling that if he didn’t strike at some point, I could take advantage of the opportunity.”
PBA Hall of Famer Billy Hardwick held the previous record for youngest to win two majors when he won the 1965 Tournament of Champions for his second major title at 23 years and 259 days.
Simonsen, whose Players Championship win was his sixth career tour title, became the youngest player to win a PBA Tour major when he won the 2016 USBC Masters at age 19.
“To have a second major at this point in my career, I’m speechless,” Simonsen said. “Jason is the guy everyone is gunning for and as a fellow two-hand player, he’s an inspiration.”
For Belmonte, who was also trying for a 20th career title, the 7-10 in the 10th frame was his second of the match after also leaving one in the fourth frame.
“I threw the ball the way I wanted to,” said the four-time PBA Player of the Year. “This game has its good breaks and bad breaks and they just didn’t go my way this time.”
Belmonte won last week’s Tournament of Champions for his 10th major title to tie Hall of Famers Pete Weber and Earl Anthony for first on the all-time majors list.
A win for Belmonte would have also made him the first to win three Players Championship titles. He won in 2011 and 2017 and joins Dave Ferraro, Dennis Horan, and Steve Hoskins as two-time winners of the event.
The stepladder finals started with two-hander and three-time tour winner Kyle Troup of Taylorsville, N.C., beating EJ Tackett of Bluffton, Ind., who was trying for his third major and 13th career tour title, 255-245.
Troup then threw three strikes in the 10th frame of the second match to beat two-time tour winner and No. 3 qualifier DJ Archer of Spring, Texas, 194-193, to advance to the semifinal against Simonsen. Simonsen dominated the semifinal, beating Troup 259-202 to advance to the title match against Belmonte.
The 2019 Go Bowling! PBA Tour travels to Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis for the Go Bowling! PBA Indianapolis Open Feb. 19-24. The $1 million title match bonus will again be in effect if a player can bowl a 300 game in the title match of the stepladder finals which will be televised live on FS1 Feb. 24 at 3 p.m. ET.
1, Anthony Simonsen, Little Elm, Texas, $50,000.
2, Jason Belmonte, Australia, $25,000.
3, Kyle Troup, Taylorsville, N.C., $13,000.
4, DJ Archer, Spring, Texas, $11,000.
5, EJ Tackett, Bluffton, Ind., $10,000.
Match One: Troup def. Tackett, 255-245.
Match Two: Troup def. Archer, 194-193.
Semifinal: Simonsen def. Troup, 259-202.
Championship: Simonsen def. Belmonte, 232-212.