Ronnie Russell of Marion, Ind., arguably the hottest player on the Professional Bowlers Association Tour, caught fire after an opening 212 game and rolled into the first round lead in the PBA Players Championship Tuesday at AMF Bowlero.
Russell, who is trying for his third PBA Tour title, finished the eight-game opening round with games of 268, 289, 259, 234, 247, 238 and 269 for a 2,016 pinfall total – a 252 average – and a 135-pin lead over DJ Archer of Friendswood, Texas. Newly-crowned PBA Player of the Year Jason Belmonte of Australia, who threw one of the eight 300 games bowled during the opening round, was third with 1,964 pins.
Russell, a 35-year-old, 11-year PBA Tour veteran, is coming off a stellar-year when he won the PBA Bear Open and was the only player to qualify for three television shows during the recent GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling. He said his hot streak is a matter of confidence and relaxation.
“I’m just throwing it and taking full advantage of it over everything,” he said. “I’m very loose. I feel good. I’m enjoying bowling. I threw 212 the first game, but I didn’t panic. I just kept throwing it, figured it out and pins started falling.
“The players out here are so good, if you start putting expectations on yourself, you’re going to get yourself in trouble,” he said. ““I’m just letting things happen.”
In the Mark Roth/Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship qualifying which is being held concurrently with the Players Championship, PBA Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr. of Oxford, Fla., and his partner, Tom Smallwood of Saginaw, Mich., combined for 3,855 pins – a composite 240.94 average – to take a 56-pin lead over Russell and his partner, Chris Loschetter of Avon, Ohio, who finished with 3,799 pins.
The final four games of Players Championship and Roth/Holman Doubles qualifying will take place at 8 a.m. CT Wednesday, with the top 24 individuals and top 12 doubles teams advancing to match play. Players Championship finalists will bowl three eight-game match play rounds Wednesday at 1:30 p.m., and Thursday at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m., with the top five after 36 games advancing to the stepladder finals on Saturday, Feb. 14, at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis.
The top 12 teams will bowl two six-game, Baker format match play rounds at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. CT on Friday. After a composite total of 36 qualifying and Baker games, the top five teams will advance to the Roth/Holman PBA Doubles Championship finals on Sunday, Feb. 15, at Woodland Bowl, following the live 1 p.m. telecast of the 50th anniversary Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions finals.
The PBA Players Championship finals will air on ESPN on Sunday, Feb. 22, at 1 p.m. ET. The PBA Doubles show will air on ESPN on March 1 at 1 p.m. ET.
All qualifying and match play rounds of the Players Championship and PBA Doubles are being covered live on PBA’s Xtra Frame online bowling channel. For subscription information, visit pba.com and click on the Xtra Frame link.
PBA PLAYER CHAMPIONSHIP
AMF Bowlero, Wauwatosa, Wis., Jan. 17
First Round (after 8 games)
1, Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind., 2,016.
2, D.J. Archer, Friendswood, Texas, 1,981.
3, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 1,964.
4, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Oxford, Fla., 1,943.
5, Brian Valenta, Lockport, Ill., 1,920.
6, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 1,912.
7, Dom Barrett, England, 1,889.
8, Brian Himmler, Cincinnati, 1,886.
9, Anthony LaCaze, Melrose Park, Ill., 1,876.
9, Mike Fagan, Fort Worth, Texas, 1,876.
11, E.J. Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 1,875.
12, Rhino Page, Dade City, Fla., 1,874.
13, Tom Daugherty, Tampa, Fla., 1,863.
14, Dean Billings, Rootstown, Ohio, 1,859.
15, Joe Paluszek, Bensalem, Pa., 1,858.
16, Dave Wodka, Beaver Creek, Ohio, 1,857.
17, Connor Pickford, Charlotte, N.C., 1,852.
18, Dan MacLelland, Saginaw, Mich., 1,850.
19, Michael Haugen Jr., Phoenix, Ariz., 1,849.
20, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 1,844.
21, Kurt Pilon, Warren, Mich., 1,841.
22, Dino Castillo, Carrollton, Texas, 1,830.
23 (tie), Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, and Patrick Allen, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 1,829.
25, Eugene McCune, Munster, Ind., 1,824.
26, Jon VanHees, Charlestown, R.I., 1,819.
27, Devin Bidwell, Wichita, Kan., 1,816.
28, Ildemaro Ruiz, Venezuela, 1,811.
29, Jesse Buss, Belvidere, Ill., 1,810.
30, Patrick Girard, Canada, 1,809.
31 (tie), Dick Allen, Columbia, S.C., and Tom Baker, King, N.C., 1,807.
33, Scott Norton, Mission Viejo, Calif., 1,806.
34 (tie), Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., and Josh Blanchard, Gilbert, Ariz., 1,799.
36, John Szczerbinski, N. Tonowanda, N.Y., 1,798.
37, Thomas Larsen, Denmark, 1,792.
38, Amleto Monacelli, Venezuela, 1,790.
39, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, 1,783.
40, Jason Sterner, Covington, Ga., 1,779.
41, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 1,775.
42, Craig Nidiffer, Trenton, Mich., 1,774.
43, Mike DeVaney, San Diego, Calif., 1,770.
44, Mike Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas, 1,768.
45, Kristopher Prather, Milton, Fla., 1,767.
46, Blake Demore, Springfield, Mo., 1,763.
47 (tie), Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y., and Lonnie Waliczek, Wichita, Kan., 1,761.
49 (tie), Nathan Bohr, Austin, Texas; Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y., and Anthony Pepe, Elmhurst, N.Y., 1,760.
52, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 1,752.
53, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 1,745.
54, Scott Newell, Deland, Fla., 1,743.
55, Martin Larsen, Sweden, 1,742.
56, Paul Moor, England, 1,741.
57, Mike Wolfe, New Albany, Ind., 1,740.
58, Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich., 1,733.
59, Bob Learn Jr, Erie, Pa., 1,728.
60, Aaron Lorincz, Saginaw, Mich., 1,717.
61, John Furey, Freehold, N.J., 1,716.
62 (tie), J.R. Raymond, Bay City, Mich., and John Ferraro, Kingston, N.Y., 1,713.
64, Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 1,712.
65 (tie), Stuart Williams, England, and Shawn Maldonado, Houston, 1,711.
67, Brett Spangler, Niles, Ohio, 1,710.
68, David Haynes, Las Vegas, 1,704.
69 (tie), Osku Palermaa, Finland, and Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J., 1,702.
71 (tie), Bryan Goebel, Shawnee, Kan., and Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 1,694.
73, Jake Peters, Henderson, Nev., 1,688.
74, Chad Lusche, Arvada, Colo., 1,680.
75, Steven Arehart, Chesapeake, Va., 1,668.
76, Diana Zavjalova, Latvia, 1,660.
77, Julio Cesar Blancas, Mexico, 1,647.
78 (tie), Chad Roberts, Reynoldsburg, Ohio, and Brad Miller, St. Charles, Mo., 1,643.
80, Tom Hess, Urbandale, Iowa, 1,639.
81, Andres Gomez, Colombia, 1,632.
82, Brian Robinson, Morgantown, W.Va., 1,630.
83, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 1,627.
84, Missy Parkin, Lake Forest, Calif., 1,606.
85, Humberto Vazquez, Mexico, 1,599.
300 Games (8): Mike Fagan, Dave Wodka, Jason Belmonte, Dom Barrett, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Josh Blanchard, Brian Himmler, Chad Roberts.
MARK ROTH/MARSHALL HOLMAN PBA DOUBLES CHAMPIONSHIP
First Round (after 16 composite games)
1, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich./Walter Ray Williams Jr., Oxford, Fla., 3,855.
2, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio/Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind., 3,799.
3, Jason Belmonte, Australia/Bill O’Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 3,709.
4, DJ Archer, Friendswood, Texas/Shawn Maldonado, Houston, Texas, 3,692.
5, Dino Castillo, Carrollton, Texas/Tom Daugherty, Tampa, Fla., 3,683.
6, Josh Blanchard, Gilbert, Ariz./Dan MacLelland, Canada, 3,649.
7 (tie), Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y./Jonathan Bower, Middletown, Pa., and Rhino Page, Dade City, Fla./Anthony Pepe, Elmhurst, N.Y., 3,634.
9, J.R. Raymond, Bay City, Mich./Brian Valenta, Lockport, Ill., 3,633.
10, Mike Fagan, Fort Worth, Texas/Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 3,628.
11, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla./Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 3,619.
12, Jesse Buss, Belvidere, Ill./John Szczerbinski, Columbus, Ohio, 3,608.
13, Patrick Allen, Wesley Chapel, Fla./Mike DeVaney, San Diego, 3,599.
14, Dom Barrett, England/Osku Palermaa, Finland, 3,591.
15, Eugene McCune, Munster, Ind./Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y., 3,585.
16, Kristopher Prather, Milton, Fla./Devin Bidwell, Wichita, Kan., 3,583.
17, Joe Paluszek, Bensalem, Pa./John Furrey, Freehold, N.J., 3,574.
18, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash./EJ Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 3,569.
19, Michael Haugen Jr., Phoenix/Stuart Williams, England, 3,560.
20, Aaron Lorincz, Saginaw, Mich./Kurt Pilon, Warren, Mich., 3,558.
21, Thomas Larsen, Denmark/Paul Moor, England, 3,533.
22 (tie), John Ferraro, Kingston, N.Y./John VanHees, Charlestown, R.I., and Mike Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich./Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 3,532.
24, Jason Sterner, Covington, Ga./Scott Newell, Deland, Fla., 3,522.
25, Nathan Bohr, Austin, Texas/Lonnie Waliczek, Wichita, Kan., 3,521.
26, Bob Learn Jr., Erie, Pa./Amleto Monacelli, Venezuela, 3,518.
27, Dave Wodka, Columbus, Ohio/Diana Zavjalova, Latvia, 3,517.
29, Tom Hess, Urbandale, Iowa/Anthony LaCaze, Melrose Park, Ill., 3,515.
30, Dick Allen, Columbia, S.C./Jake Peters, Henderson, Nev., 3,495.
31 (tie), Mike Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas/Brett Spangler, Niles, Ohio, and David Haynes, Las Vegas/Craig Nidiffer, Trenton, Mich., 3,478.
33, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas/Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 3,456.
34, Blake DeMore, Springfield, Mo./Chad Lusche, Arvada, Colo., 3,443.
35, Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J./Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 3,414.
36, Scott Norton, Mission Viejo, Calif./Missy Parkin, Laguna Hills, Calif., 3,412.
37, Andres Gomez, Colombia/Martin Larsen, Sweden, 3,374.
38, Julio Cesar Blancas/Humberto Vazquez, Mexico, 3,246.