LAS VEGAS – Jakob Butturff of Tempe, Arizona, captured his first career major championship after winning the 2019 United States Bowling Congress Masters on Monday at the Gold Coast Hotel and Casino.
The 24-year-old left-hander defeated fellow southpaw Mykel Holliman of Collierville, Tennessee, 228-196, to win his sixth career Professional Bowlers Association Tour title and $30,000 top prize. Holliman received $25,000 for the runner-up finish.
Monday’s stepladder finals were broadcast live on FS1.
Butturff had finished as the runner-up in his three previous appearances on television in major championships. He lost as the top seed at both the 2017 and 2018 U.S. Open and fell to Australia’s Jason Belmonte in the title match of the 2019 PBA World Championship in March.
After waking up Sunday with a terrible pain in his upper back prior to match play, Butturff’s perseverance paid off as the top seed Monday to claim the biggest win of his career.
“Honestly, I don’t even know what to say,” Butturff said. “Two days ago, I was in unbearable pain, but I had so many people help me out. I was able to adjust my game even though I was in pain, but here I am. I just won my first major.”
Butturff gained the early lead in the title match, starting with three consecutive strikes, while Holliman recorded an open in the second frame after missing the 6-7 split.
Butturff continued to fill frames to maintain his advantage, but Holliman responded with strikes in the fifth, sixth and seventh frames to cut the deficit to 13 pins. With a chance to add a fourth consecutive strike in the eighth, Holliman left a 9 pin to derail his momentum.
Holliman was unable to strike again until his fill ball, allowing Butturff to coast in the final frame, needing just four pins for the victory. He struck on his first shot of the 10th to secure the win.
Butturff admitted the left lane had gotten tougher for him through practice prior to the title match, but he was able to rely on what he had learned throughout the week at Gold Coast to quickly make the adjustment.
“During practice, the left lane ended up getting pretty tricky,” Butturff said. “I felt more comfortable on the right lane, and the first shot I threw on the left lane hooked almost immediately. My move this week when I got it a little slow and saw that much hook was to move right, and I was able to make the shots I needed to towards the end of the match.”
Holliman, 26, made his USBC Masters debut this week at Gold Coast and advanced to his first championship round after nearly making the finals at the PBA Cheetah Championship in March.
The left lane ended up transitioning quite a bit for Holliman against Butturff, but he’s happy with his performance in his television debut.
“I was nervous and the adrenaline kicked in a lot,” Holliman said. “No matter how much you prepare, it’s different when the lights come on. The first few shots on the left lane hooked, so I moved three boards with my feet, one with my eyes and lofted it farther down the lane to trip the 6 pin in the sixth frame. I moved another board off that in the eighth and left that brutal 9 pin, which kind of sealed it from my point. It was the best shot I threw, but I have nothing to be disappointed about. This was my second major and first TV show, and I finished second. I have nothing to be ashamed of.”
Holliman made his way to the title match by defeating Jake Peters of Henderson, Nevada, 217-199. Peters started with strikes in four of his first five frames but gave Holliman the chance to take the lead after missing the 3-6-9-10 combination in the sixth frame. Holliman took advantage, rolling three consecutive strikes, to outdistance Peters.
Peters advanced to the semifinals by defeating Ireland’s Christopher Sloan, 254-226. Needing a strike to have the opportunity to shut out Sloan, Peters first shot of the 10th frame rolled high into the pocket but was able to trip out the 4-9 split at the last moment.
The opening match Monday came down to a roll-off as Sloan and Canada’s Mitch Hupé tied at 214. Hupé had the opportunity to win the match by knocking down at least nine pins on his first delivery in the 10th frame but left the 3-6 combination. After converting the spare, he struck to force the tie.
Hupé, the No. 4 seed, elected to start the roll-off and left a 4 pin. Sloan struck to advance, 10-9.
The 2019 Masters welcomed 450 competitors to Gold Coast this week. All bowlers participated in 15 qualifying games over three days to determine the 63 competitors joining defending champion Andrew Anderson of Holly, Michigan, in the tournament’s double-elimination bracket.
Anderson finished tied for 17th place in his title defense.
FloBowling provided livestream coverage of the 2019 event leading up to the stepladder finals.
For more information on the USBC Masters, visit BOWL.com/Masters.
2019 USBC Masters
At Gold Coast Hotel and Casino
1, Jakob Butturff, Tempe, Ariz., 228 (one game), $30,000.
2, Mykel Holliman, Collierville, Tenn., 413 (two games), $25,000.
3, Jake Peters, Henderson, Nev., 453 (two games), $15,000.
4, Christopher Sloan, Ireland, 440 (two games), $10,000.
5, Mitch Hupé, Canada, 214 (one game), $8,000.
Match 1 – Sloan def. Hupé, 214-214 (Sloan won one-ball roll-off, 10-9).
Match 2 – Peters def. Sloan, 254-226.
Semifinal – Holliman def. Peters, 217-199.
Championship – Butturff def. Holliman, 228-196.