FAIRLAWN, Ohio (Feb. 9, 2018) – Two-hander Jesper Svensson of Sweden will bowl for his second PBA Tournament of Champions title and eighth career tour title as the top qualifier for the stepladder finals of the 53rd edition of PBA’s signature championship Sunday at AMF Riviera Lanes.
The finals for the 2018 Go Bowling! PBA Tour season’s first major will air Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Svensson compiled a 16-6-2 match play record and 10,159 42-game pinfall total including match play bonus pins Friday to secure the top spot 147 pins ahead of No. 2 qualifier second-year pro Andrew Anderson of Holly, Mich., who finished with a 10,012 pinfall and 15-9 record in match play.
Svensson, who is already a seven-time Tour winner at age 22, became the youngest player to win the Tournament of Champions, when he captured the title in Shawnee, Okla., in 2016 at age 20, eight days short of his 21st birthday.
Nearly failing to advance to match play after earning the 24th and final match play spot after qualifying on Thursday, nine-time PBA Tour major winner Jason Belmonte of Australia made a dramatic drive to reach the No. 3 qualifying position for the finals finishing with a 9,928 pinfall and 14-10 match play record.
Belmonte, who won his fourth Player of the Year crown in 2017, is trying for his 10th PBA major title to tie PBA Hall of Famers Pete Weber and Earl Anthony for the all-time major title record. A win would also make the 2014 and 2015 Tournament of Champions winner the third player to win the major three times. Jason Couch and Mike Durbin are the other three-time winners.
Should Belmonte, a 16-time tour winner capture the title, he would become only the fourth player to come from the 24th qualifying position, using PBA’s traditional head-to-head match play format, to win a major. The last player to accomplish the feat was Hall of Famer Parker Bohn III in the 2012 PBA World Championship.
If Belmonte advances to the championship match against Svensson, it would also set up a rematch of the 2017 PBA World Championship title match where Belmonte beat Svensson for the win. Belmonte defeated Svensson 238-225 for a record third major win during the season with previous wins coming in the United States Bowling Congress Masters and Barbasol PBA Players Championship.
BJ Moore of Greensburg, Pa., a PBA regional titlist, and Matt O’Grady of Rahway, N.J., a four-time regional winner, took the fourth and fifth stepladder spots, respectively. Moore finished with a 9,873 pinfall and O’Grady finished with a 9,824 to take the final spot. Both players had 15-9 records in match play.
Anderson, who owns one regional title as a PBA member, Moore and O’Grady advanced to the Tournament of Champions field through a pre-tournament qualifier. The PTQ enabled players who did not have tour titles, but owned titles in PBA’s other divisions, to earn spots in the field.
PBA TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
AMF Riviera Lanes, Fairlawn, Ohio, Friday
Sixth Round Standings (after 42 games. Top five advance to Sunday’s stepladder finals on ESPN at 1 p.m. ET. Includes match play record, total pinfall including bonus pins and money earned.)
1, Jesper Svensson, Sweden, 16-6-2, 10,159.
2, Andrew Anderson, Holly, Mich., 15-9, 10,012.
3, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 14-10, 9,928.
4, BJ Moore, Greensburg, Pa., 15-9, 9,873.
5, Matt O'Grady, Rahway, N.J., 15-9, 9,824.
6, Matt Sanders, Evansville, Ind., 14-10, 9,814, $6,500.
7, Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind., 13-11, 9,780, $6,000.
8, Anthony Simonsen, Austin, Texas, 14-10, 9,764, $5,500.
9, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 15-9, 9,723, $5,000.
10, Kristopher Prather, Plainfield, Ill., 11-12-1, 9,718, $4,800.
11, Tom Daugherty, Riverview, Fla., 11-13, 9,703, $4,700.
12, Kyle Troup, Taylorsville, N.C., 10-14, 9,691, $4,700.
13, EJ Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 13-10-1, 9,678, $4,500.
14, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 11-13, 9,522, $4,400.
15, DJ Archer, Friendswood, Texas, 11-13, 9,515, $4,300.
16, Mitch Beasley, Clarksville, Tenn., 14-10, 9,495, $4,200.
17, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 8-16, 9,494, $4,100.
18, Jakob Butturff, Tempe, Ariz., 9-15, 9,469, $4,000.
19, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 10-14, 9,464, $3,900.
20, Chris Warren, Grants Pass, Ore., 9-15, 9,445, $3,800.
21, Kyle Sherman, O'Fallon, Mo., 10-13-1, 9,408, $3,700.
22, Connor Pickford, Charlotte, N.C., 12-12, 9,326, $3,600.
23, Shawn Maldonado, Houston, Texas, 8-15-1, 9,222, $3,650.
24, Kurt Pilon, Warren, Mich., 6-16-2, 9,039, $3,500.
300 games (3) – Matt O’Grady, Andrew Anderson, Kyle Troup