Belmonte Leads Players Championship With Duke, Others Close Behind

by Jerry Schneider, Professional Bowlers Association 0

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Feb. 12, 2020) – Australian two-hander Jason Belmonte averaged 232 and posted a 3-4-1 record in the first round of match play Wednesday at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl but it was good enough to retake the lead in the PBA Players Championship.

Leading with a 6,184 26-game pinfall total including match play bonus pins, the two-time Players Championship winner bowled games of 218, 235, 226, 223, 279, 212, 235 and 233 in match play to edge past 55-year-old PBA Hall of Famer Norm Duke who posted a 4-4 record and finished the day just six pins back in second with 6,178.

Belmonte, who earned his fifth PBA Player of the Year crown in 2019, owns 22 Go Bowling PBA Tour titles including a record 11 majors.

Duke, who earned top qualifier honors after the third round earlier in the day with a 4,245 18-game pinfall, ranks third on the all-time PBA Tour titles list with 40 wins including seven majors and continues to be a competitive force on tour. 

In 2019, just shy of his 55th birthday, Duke won the Go Bowling Indianapolis Open and Go Bowling Jonesboro Open back-to-back to become the oldest player to accomplish the feat. 

In pursuit of yet another milestone in his more than three-decade career, the Players Championship is the only major he hasn’t won.  With a Players Championship win he would join fellow Hall of Famer Mike Aulby as the only player to win all of the tour majors, which include the PBA Tournament of Champions, U.S. Open, PBA World Championship, USBC Masters and Players Championship.

“It’s the only one (major) I don’t have,” Duke said. “Training and staying in shape becomes more of a priority as I battle father time but it’s the motivation to win this tournament that really drives me.”

EJ Tackett of Huntington, Indiana, a 13-time tour winner with two major titles, went 6-2 in match play and finished the day in third with a 6,147 pinfall.

Two-time tour winner Tom Daugherty of Riverview, Florida, also posted a 6-2 record to finish the day in fourth with 6,146, while two-time winner Stuart Williams of England compiled a 7-1 record finishing with a 6,128 pinfall to round out the top five.

After Thursday’s second and third match play rounds at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET, the top five based on 42-game pinfall totals will advance to Saturday’s live stepladder finals on FS1 at 5:30 p.m. ET. A $1 million bonus will be paid if the winning player bowls a 300 game in the title match.

Thursday’s match play action will be livestreamed on FloBowling. For subscription information visit


(a 2020 Go Bowling PBA Tour Tier 1 event)

Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl, Columbus, Ohio, Wednesday

Fourth Round Standings

(after 26 games. Includes total pinfall including match play bonus pins. All players advance to Thursday’s fifth match play round)

1, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 3-4-1, 6,184.
2, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 4-4, 6,178.
3, EJ Tackett, Bluffton, Ind., 6-2, 6,147.
4, Tom Daugherty, Riverview, Fla., 6-2, 6,146.
5, Stuart Williams, England, 7-1, 6,128.
6, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 3-4-1, 6,107.
7, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 4-2-2, 6,083.
8, Francois Lavoie, Canada, 4-4, 6,018.
9, Kris Prather, Plainfield, Ill., 2-5-1, 5,997.
10, Shawn Maldonado, Houston, 5-3, 5,976.
11, Nicholas Pate, Inver Grove Heights, Minn., 4-4, 5,946.
12, Brad Miller, Lees Summit, Mo., 5-3, 5,941.
13, Darren Tang, Las Vegas, 5-3, 5,929.
14, AJ Johnson, Oswego, Ill., 4-3-1, 5,901.
15, Zach Wilkins, Canada, 5-3, 5,899.
16, BJ Moore, Greensburg, Pa., 4-4, 5,872.
17, Martin Larsen, Sweden, 3-5, 5,870.
18, Greg Ostrander, Brick, N.J., 3-5, 5,852.
19, Thomas Larsen, Denmark, 2-6, 5,846.
20, Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind., 4-4, 5,825.
21, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 2-6, 5,817.
22, Ildemaro Ruiz, Venezuela, 2-6, 5,807.
23, Nick Kruml, Downers Grove, Ill., 4-4, 5,784.
24, Sean Lavery-Spahr, Pasadena, Texas, 2-6, 5,778.

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