Breaking a streak of seven years without a PBA Tour title on U.S. soil, Tommy Jones won this first title of the season and 16th of his career with a 225-211 victory over PBA Hall of Famer Norm Duke in the PBA Bear Open finals at the Oklahoma’s Grand Casino Hotel & Resort Event Center.
Jones, whose last U.S. title came in the 2008 GEICO Open in West Babylon, N.Y., won four straight matches from the No. 4 qualifying position in a challenging stepladder final that required all players to execute spares and split conversions as well as throw strikes. The second of five telecasts which are part of Oklahoma’s Grand Casino Hotel & Resort PBA Summer Swing aired Tuesday night on CBS Sports Network.
Both Jones and Duke struggled to start the title match with Duke failing to convert the 1-2-4 in the first frame and Jones failing to convert the 2-7 split in his third frame. It was in the 2-7 split that made Jones decide to make a move with his ball and his angle to the pocket, reeling off four consecutive strikes. That string, along with a double in the ninth and 10th frames, was enough to hold off Duke who was trying for his second title of the season and the 39th of his career.
“I watched what Norm was doing and what Bill (O’Neill) was doing in the previous match, so I decided it was time for me to change to a different ball, get my balance and footing adjusted, and throw it a little softer,” said Jones. “I actually enjoy grinding it out like this. You’re not just throwing strikes. You have to be on your game to make spares and splits plus get a few breaks along the way.”
Since the 2008 GEICO Open, Jones has won two titles in Japan and another in Saudi Arabia, but he has had a run of bad luck in U.S.-based tournaments. This season, Jones had a previous best finish of fifth place in the Summer Swing Wolf Open and sixth place with Chris Barnes in the Mark Roth/Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship.
“I’ll be honest, there were some doubts that creep into your head when you start thinking about when that next win will come,” Jones said. “It causes you to put more pressure on yourself. I just went back to that old mindset of just thinking about the next shot.”
An inkling to how challenging the 40-foot Bear lane condition would be came in the opening match when Jones defeated No. 5 qualifier Brad Angelo of Lockport, N.Y., trying for his third Tour title, 179-161. Jones then defeated two-time defending PBA Player of the Year Jason Belmonte, who was trying for his third win of the season and 13th of his career, 221-210, in the second match and out-dueled five-time Tour winner Bill O’Neill of Langhorne, Pa., 225-220, in the semifinal match. O’Neill had a chance to win the match with a strike on his first shot in the 10th frame for a double, but he left a 4 pin.
With his win, Jones joined Wolf Open winner Kyle Troup of Taylorsville, N.C., in the Oklahoma’s Grand Casino Resort King of the Swing finals. The Badger and Oklahoma Open winners also will advance to the end-of-series special event, along with a wild-card player based upon competition points earned without a title in the Summer Swing.
Next up on the Oklahoma’s Grand Casino Hotel & Resort PBA Summer Swing CBS Sports Network telecast schedule is the Badger Open (June 9), followed by the Oklahoma Open (June 16) and Oklahoma’s Grand Casino Resort King of the Swing (June 23). All telecasts will air at 9 p.m. ET.
PBA BEAR OPEN
Grand Casino Resort Event Center, Shawnee, Okla.
1, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., $10,000.
2, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., $5,000
3, Bill O’Neill, Langhorne, Pa., $4,000.
4, Jason Belmonte, Australia, $3,500.
5. Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y., $3,000.
Match One – Jones def. Angelo, 179-161.
Match Two – Jones def. Belmonte, 221-210.
Semifinal Match – Jones def. O’Neill, 225-220.
Championship – Jones def. Duke, 225-211.