ALLEN PARK, Mich. (March 21, 2019) – Australia’s Jason Belmonte successfully defended his PBA World Championship title Thursday for a record 11th PBA major crown, continuing to set new benchmarks of performance for the Go Bowling! PBA Tour’s most prestigious and challenging tournaments.
The 35-year-old two-hander defeated Jakob Butturff of Tempe, Ariz., 236-227, in the title match of the stepladder finals televised live by FS1. The World Championship, the PBA Tour season’s third major, was the pinnacle event of the multi-event PBA World Series of Bowling X at Thunderbowl Lanes.
In his 11th season on tour, Belmonte broke a tie with PBA Hall of Famers Earl Anthony and Pete Weber for most major titles, after winning his 10th major in the PBA Tournament of Champions in February. He had a chance to win his 11th major in the Players Championship a week after the Tournament of Champions but was defeated by fellow two-hander Anthony Simonsen in the title match of that tournament.
Having been top qualifier for the finals of the Tournament of Champions, Players Championship and the World Championship, Belmonte also set a new mark for earning the top qualifier position for the finals in three consecutive major tournaments in a season.
“I’m so overwhelmed right now that if I could express how I feel I don’t know if anyone could understand me,” said Belmonte, who also won his 21st career tour title. “To break a record held by two of the greatest players of all time is just something I never thought was possible when I first started on tour more than 10 years ago. I’m proof that you can achieve your dreams.”
Belmonte got off to a fast start in the title match with strikes in the first three frames, while Butturff, trying for his first major and sixth career tour title, struggled until striking in the third frame. Butturff ran into trouble again in the sixth frame when he missed a seven pin but recovered to throw the last six strikes of the match to eventually force Belmonte to strike on the first ball in the 10th and then finish the frame with a spare. Belmonte doubled in the 10th to seal the win.
“Jakob is a great player and I knew what he was capable of so for him to come back from that missed spare really didn’t surprise me,” Belmonte said. “He put together a clutch performance to the very end.
“Going into the 10th I knew my ball had to be perfect going through the pins and those were two of the best shots of my life,” Belmonte added. “I can’t think of a better way to win this tournament.”
Belmonte also became the season’s first three-time winner having also won the Chameleon Championship on Tuesday. He also extended his record of career tour wins in WSOB competition to six.
The stepladder finals started with Butturff, who qualified fourth, beating No. 5 qualifier BJ Moore of Greensburg, Pa., 236-183. Moore, who was trying for his first PBA Tour title, finished fifth which tied his best finish in a major when he also finished fifth in the 2018 Tournament of Champions.
The 24-year-old Butturff then beat 10-time tour winner No. 3 qualifier Bill O’Neill of Langhorne, Pa, 235-226, to advance to the semifinal match where he beat part-time tour player and No. 2 qualifier Matt McNiel of Minneapolis, 184-179, to advance to the title match against Belmonte.
The next stop for the Go Bowling! PBA Tour will be the USBC Masters March 26-April 1 at the Gold Coast Bowling Center in Las Vegas where Belmonte will try for his 12th major win. After the season’s fourth major has concluded, the top 24 players in points will earn berths in the PBA Playoffs which begin April 8 with the Round of 24 eliminations at Bayside Bowl in Portland, Maine.
World Series of Bowling X action concludes Friday on FS1 with the USA vs. The World team competition from Thunderbowl Lanes at 8 p.m. ET.
PBA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Thunderbowl Lanes, Allen Park, Mich., Thursday
1, Jason Belmonte, Australia, $60,000.
2, Jakob Butturff, Tempe, Ariz., $30,000.
3, Matt McNiel, Minneapolis, $25,000.
4, Bill O’Neill, Langhorne, Pa., $20,000.
5, BJ Moore, Greensburg, Pa., $15,000.
Match 1 – Butturff def. Moore, 236-183.
Match 2 – Butturff def. O’Neill, 235-226.
Semifinal – Butturff def. McNiel, 184-179.
Championship – Belmonte def. Butturff, 236-227.