Belmonte’s Bid for 12th Major Title Among PBA Tournament of Champions Storylines

by Jerry Schneider, Professional Bowlers Association 0

FAIRLAWN, Ohio (Jan. 28, 2020) – AMF Riviera Lanes was the site of another milestone in Professional Bowlers Association history in 2019 when Australian Jason Belmonte took another step to becoming the all-time PBA majors title leader. By winning a record-tying third PBA Tournament of Champions title, the win gave him his 10th career major title and a share of the all-time major titles lead.

Belmonte defeated EJ Tackett, 225-196, in the title match to tie PBA Hall of Famers Earl Anthony and Pete Weber for the lead on the all-time majors list.

The two-hander, who now owns 22 career PBA Tour titles, took sole possession of the career major titles lead when he won the PBA World Championship six weeks later. His two major titles provided the impetus for his fifth Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year honor.

As host of the PBA Tournament of Champions from 1966 to 1994, and continuing with its return in 2018, AMF Riviera Lanes has been the scene of some of the most memorable moments in PBA history. That tradition will no doubt continue when AMF Riviera Lanes hosts the first major of the 2020 Go Bowling PBA Tour season Feb. 3-9. PBA’s signature tournament will culminate with the live stepladder finals on FOX at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 9.

All preliminary rounds will be streamed live via the PBA’s online bowling channel FloBowling, and international subscribers will be able to watch the live FOX telecast of all PBA Tour finals as they air on FOX Sports’ channels. For FloBowling subscription and schedule information visit www.flobowling.com.

Here’s a look at some of the storylines for the 2020 PBA Tournament of Champions:

TOC stepladder finals will be televised live on FOX: The first major championship of the 2020 Go Bowling PBA Tour season will culminate with a live FOX stepladder finals telecast on Sunday, Feb. 9 at 5 p.m. ET.

Winner will earn $100,000: The Tournament of Champions is one of three events this season that will offer the winner a $100,000 first prize. The others offering a $100,000 first prize this season are the PBA World Championship and PBA Playoffs. 

$1 million 300 game bonus: While Tommy Jones received a $10,000 bonus for his historic 300 game in the championship match of the season-opening PBA Hall of Fame Classic, the bonus increases to $1 million, courtesy of FOX, if a player can accomplish the same feat in the championship match of the PBA Tournament of Champions, PBA Players Championship, Go Bowling Indianapolis Open or PBA World Championship.

“Go Bowling Free America” promotion: The “Go Bowling Free America” promotion once again rewards PBA fans, league and casual bowlers across America who pre-register on GoBowling.com with a free game offer if any player bowls a perfect game during any FOX or FS1 nationally-televised PBA Tour finals during the 2020 Go Bowling PBA Tour season.

TOC is a tournament for champions only: The 2020 Tournament of Champions will include an exclusive field of PBA champions. In order to be eligible, a player must be a PBA member who has won a PBA Tour, PBA Regional, PBA50 Tour, PBA50 Regional, or PBA Women’s Series title.

Five-time PBA Player of the Year Jason Belmonte will try again for additional milestones: Jason Belmonte, the Australian two-hander and defending TOC champion, will set his sights on a record fourth TOC title in 2020. He is currently tied with three-time TOC winners Mike Durbin and Jason Couch, both PBA Hall of Famers. With another TOC title, the 36-year-old Belmonte also would improve upon his current record total of 11 major titles.

Other two-handers in the field: While Jason Belmonte brought the two-handed delivery to prominence in his rookie season in 2009, among the other players using the two-handed technique in the field will be: 2016 TOC champion Jesper Svensson of Sweden; five-time tour winner Osku Palermaa of Finland; seven-time tour champion Anthony Simonsen, Little Elm, Texas; three-time tour winner Kyle Troup, Taylorsville, North Carolina, and one-time PBA Tour winner Matt Ogle of Louisville, Kentucky.

PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber tries for 11th major: While Jason Belmonte has garnered most of the attention regarding PBA major milestones in recent seasons,  PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber will also have an opportunity to win his 11th career major to regain a tie with Belmonte for the all-time majors record. Weber won his 10th major in the 2013 TOC to tie Earl Anthony for most PBA major titles at that time. In doing so, Weber became the only player to win PBA’s Triple Crown (Tournament of Champions, U.S. Open and World Championship) twice and, at age 50, he became the oldest player to win a PBA major. Now 56, Weber, a 37-time tour winner, would also join Belmonte, Mike Durbin and Jason Couch as three-time TOC titlists with a win.

TOC past winners entered: Past TOC champions entered includeEJ Tackett (2017), Jesper Svensson (2016), Jason Belmonte (2014, 2015, 2019), Matt O’Grady (2018), Sean Rash (2012), and PBA Hall of Famers Pete Weber (1987, 2013), Norm Duke (1994), Chris Barnes (2006) and Tommy Jones (2007).

Walter Ray Williams Jr. still trying for a TOC title: Hall of FamerWalter Ray Williams Jr. has accomplished nearly everything there is to accomplish in PBA competition except winning the Tournament of Champions. A TOC title would make the all-time titles leader (47) the seventh player to complete the PBA Triple Crown (titles in the U.S. Open, PBA World Championship and TOC), and the third player in history to complete the PBA “Grand Slam” (titles in the U.S. Open, PBA World Championship, TOC and USBC Masters). Mike Aulby and Norm Duke are the only players who have completed the Grand Slam.

Bowling legend Carmen Salvino to compete: The ageless bowling legend Carmen Salvino will compete in his 30th Tournament of Champions at age 86. The 17-time PBA Tour winner, who is the oldest to compete in a PBA Tour event, has a best finish of third which he accomplished in the very first TOC in 1962. 

International field: Eight countries are represented in the TOC field – Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, England, Finland, Sweden and the U.S.

TOC first of three consecutive majors:  The Tournament of Champions will be the first of three consecutive PBA Tour majors. Following the TOC will be the PBA Players Championship at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl (Feb. 9-15) and the U.S. Open in Lincoln, Nebraska (Feb. 16-23).

TOC began in Indianapolis in 1962: Joe Joseph won the inaugural TOC at Play Bowl in Indianapolis with a two-game 480 pinfall total in 1962. Billy Golembiewski was second with 416 pins and Hall of Famer Carmen Salvino finished third with 409 in the two-game total pinfall championship round.

TOC admission and pro-am information: Limited tickets for the stepladder finals are available at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tournament-of-champions-tickets-tickets-67045004413.

Tickets for qualifying and match play rounds will be available at the door. Contact AMF Riviera Lanes at (330) 836-7985 for additional information.

55th PBA TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS SCHEDULE

AMF Riviera Lanes, Fairlawn, Ohio (all times Eastern)

Monday, Feb. 3

2 p.m. – PTQ Round 1 (5 games)

6:30 p.m. – PTQ Round 2 (5 games)

Tuesday, Feb. 4

2-4 p.m. - Practice session

6-8 p.m. – Youth clinic

Wednesday, Feb. 5

11 a.m. - Qualifying Round 1 (6 games)

6 p.m. - Qualifying Round 2 (6 games)

Thursday, Feb. 6

11 a.m. - Qualifying Round 3 (6 games)

Top 24 players advance to Round Robin Match Play

6 p.m. - Match Play Round 1 (8 games)

Friday, Feb. 7

11 a.m. - Match Play Round 2 (8 games)

6 p.m. - Match Play Round 3 (8 games)

Top 5 players advance to stepladder finals

Saturday, Feb. 8

Pro-ams - 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 9

5 p.m. ET - Live stepladder finals on FOX

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