Rhino Page of Dade City, Fla., again held off a pack of challengers to take a 137–pin lead over defending champion Jason Belmonte of Australia into Friday night’s final round of match play in the 50th anniversary Barbasol Professional Bowlers Association Tournament of Champions.
Page, who is hoping to win the Tournament of Champions title that evaded him in 2009, has won 11 of his first 16 matches and tied another, averaging 245.23 for 40 games for a 10,154 pinfall total. He has led the tournament since the first round.
Belmonte, who has been lurking in the shadows the entire tournament, closed his Friday morning round with a 300 game to move into second place with 10,017 pins, 87 pins ahead of 2009 TOC winner Patrick Allen of Wesley Chapel, Fla. Scott Norton of Mission Viejo, Calif., was fourth with 9,917 pins and Bill O’Neill of Langhorne, Pa., held the fifth spot for Sunday’s ESPN finals with 9,833 pins, six ahead of Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, N.Y.
“It’s a good thing I’m not watching the rearview mirror,” Page said. “The lanes were a little different today. I struggled the first three games, and luckily won a couple of them. If I’d been watching in the rearview mirror, panic might have set in. But once I got a good read, I got more comfortable and got things back under control.”
Not only is the two-handed Belmonte, the two-time reigning PBA Player of the Year, not on Page’s heels, but so is Allen, who won the 2009 TOC title over Page, 267-263, when Page made an errant shot in the 10th frame, knocking down four pins to hand Allen the title. A rematch with Allen in the title match here is a possibility.
“I have not given a single thought to a repeat match with (Allen),” Page said. “When you’ve got a guy like Belmo chasing you – he’s the best there is right now and he made a big move this afternoon – it’s hard to think about a rematch with P.A.”
Belmonte, who won the United States Bowling Congress Masters for a record third consecutive time last Sunday, is trying for his fifth major title in three years. He also has a chance to become the first player to win both the Masters and Tournament of Champions back-to-back.
The final eight games of match play begin at 5 p.m. ET today with at least 10 players in contention for the five stepladder finals berths. After 48 games, the top five will advance to Sunday’s live ESPN finals where they will compete for the $50,000 first prize and the second major title of the 2015 season at 1 p.m. ET.
Friday’s final round will be covered live on PBA’s Xtra Frame online video streaming channel. For subscription information, visit pba.com and click on the Xtra Frame link. Free live scoring throughout the event also is available on pba.com.
50TH ANNIVERSARY BARBASOL PBA TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
Woodland Bowl, Indianapolis, Feb. 13
Fifth Round Standings (after 40 games, including match play bonus pins)
1, Rhino Page, Orlando, Fla., 11-4-1, 10,154.
2, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 9-7, 10,017.
3, Patrick Allen, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 11-5, 9,930.
4, Scott Norton, Mission Viejo, Calif., 11-5, 9,917.
5, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 7-9, 9,833.
6, Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 7-8-1, 9,827.
7, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 9-7, 9,789.
8, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 10-6, 9,776.
9, Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J., 10-6, 9,767.
10, Dom Barrett, England, 8-8, 9,705.
11, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 12-3-1, 9,699.
12, Liz Johnson, Cheektowaga, New York, 8-7-1, 9,657.
13, D.J. Archer, Friendswood, Texas, 9-7, 9,635.
14, Dan MacLelland, Canada, 8-8, 9,628.
15, Anthony Lavery-Spahr, Pasadena, Texas, 10-6, 9,519.
16, Mike Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas, 5-11, 9,517.
17, Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich., 8-7-1, 9,440.
18, Brian Valenta, Lockport, Ill., 5-11, 9,335.
19, Anthony LaCaze, Melrose Park, Ill., 7-9, 9,302.
20, J.R. Raymond, Bay City, Mich., 5-11, 9,258.
21, E.J. Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 4-11-1, 9,257.
22, Mike Fagan, Fort Worth, Texas, 7-9, 9,170.
23, Patrick Dombrowski, Parma, Ohio, 6-10, 9,153.
24, Eugene McCune, Munster, Ind., 2-14, 9,094.