BY JILL WINTERS
Euless, Texas – The championship match most wanted to see played out at the 2022 PBA Players Championship.
With the first major title of the season and $100,000 on the line, fans got to see rivals Jason Belmonte and top seed Sean Rash battle it out.
It wasn’t the cleanest match with both players struggling on the left lane. Rash had two splits on the lane, Belmonte had one and just one strike heading into the 10th frame.
“It was far from easy,” Belmonte said about the challenging dual-pattern conditions. “Sean or I didn’t really love that left lane and I had to finish on it. I knew coming into the 10th just to give myself one shot.”
Belmonte surprised many when he picked up his Storm Spectre before the final frame, looked toward his Storm ball reps for affirmation, got the nod of approval to switch balls and he just let it fly.
He felt he was going “into the unknown” a little bit but he hit his target and “made the best shot I possibly could.” He struck, threw his Storm Belmo Gold ball straight down the middle to get nine and converted the spare. That was the knockout punch he needed to defeat Rash, 210-202.
The two-handed Aussie raised his arms straight up, pounded his chest and emphatically yelled, ‘I’m back.’ He also pointed toward Storm CEO Bill Chrisman and said, ‘thank you.’ This year marks 20 years since Belmonte first signed a contract with Storm.
Belmonte is now a three-time winner of the PBA Players Championship, and he has 26 career PBA Tour titles to add to his impressive legacy. Next up, he will seek to earn yet another major at a difficult event.
“I’m going to go try to win the U.S. Open again,” the all-time PBA major champion said. “I’m ready to just bowl and bowl and bowl. Just keep lining the tournaments up.”
In the first stepladder match, Graham Fach was one shot short of perfection defeating Tommy Jones, 279-219. Arturo Quintero rolled past Fach in match two, 248-204, before he lost to Belmonte, 248-212. In that second match, a 2-8-10 split by Quintero in the 7th frame was the break Belmonte needed.
“That was probably one of my more nervous TV shows,” Belmonte said. “He gave me an opening and I was able to take advantage of it.”
PBA PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL STANDINGS
- Jason Belmonte $100,000
- Sean Rash $60,000
- Arturo Quintero $45,000
- Graham Fach $35,000
- Tommy Jones $30,000
Match 1 – Fach def. Jones 279-219
Match 2 – Quintero def. Fach 248-204
Match 3 – Belmonte def. Quintero 248-212
Championship match – Belmonte def. Rash 210-202