Jason Belmonte Now Has Led 9 Consecutive Rounds of PBA Tour Competition

by Gianmarc Manzione 0

The last time someone not named Jason Belmonte led a round of PBA Tour competition was Feb. 6. That was eight days ago, when reigning PBA Player of the Year Andrew Anderson averaged 245 to hold a 19-pin lead over Belmonte atop the standings at the PBA Tournament of Champions.

Ever since that day, the PBA Tour has been The Jason Belmonte Show. He has led every round of PBA Tour action since Feb. 7, when he opened up a 97-pin lead over the field after that week's second round of qualifying. The man has not looked back since; that lead at the TOC widened to a margin of hundreds of pins, and he went on to win his 10th career major, tying Pete Weber and Earl Anthony in that regard while also tying Mike Durbin and Jason Couch with three Tournament of Champions wins.

This week, Belmonte has led every round at the PBA Players Championship in Columbus, Ohio. While Brad Miller pulled into a tie with the two-hander in the final round of qualifying earlier today, Belmonte regained sole possession of the lead during today's eight-game match play round on the strength of a 289 in game 7 and an 1865 block overall. He finished the round with an 806 set, bookending that 289 with games of 268 in game 6 and a 249 closer.

Belmonte posted a 5-3 match play record and holds a 127-pin lead over second-place Tom Smallwood, the defending champion who defeated Belmonte for this title last year in a 259-239 championship match. Smallwood posted a 6-2 match play record.

Including last week's second and third rounds of qualifying and all three rounds of match play, plus the four rounds he now has led this week at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl, that makes nine consecutive rounds as the tournament leader on the PBA Tour. Belmonte also is looking to bowl the TV finals of the Players Championship as the No. 1 seed for the third straight year, having won it from that position in 2017 before losing to Smallwood last year as the tournament leader.

The PBA told BJI today that they do not track the record for number of consecutive rounds led by the same player in PBA Tour competition, but, record or not, it is a mightily impressive feat by a bowler who once again has emerged as the tour's most dominant presence six weeks into the 2019 season.

Anthony Simonsen, who finished runner-up in this event in 2017, climbed into the top five when a 6-1-1 match play record helped him into third place. Rounding out the top five are fourth-place Chris Barnes, who posted a 7-1-0 record and briefly led the field during today's match play round, and fifth-place Miller, who went 4-4.

Find the full standings here: https://www.pba.com/PBALiveScoring?TournamentID=2762

Match play resumes at 11 a.m. ET for another eight games before a final round at 6 p.m., which will decide the five finalists for Sunday's TV show at 1 p.m. on FS1.

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