Russell, who now has won two PBA Tour titles in the last two seasons, will compete for the biggest title of his professional career when he enters Sunday’s stepladder finals of the PBA World Championship in the No. 3 qualifying position.
The finals for the PBA World Championship – the season’s final tournament and third major – will be televised live on ESPN on Sunday, Jan. 11 at 1 p.m. ET from the brand new South Point Bowling Plaza in Las Vegas.
After 52 games, consisting of four seven-game qualifying rounds and three eight-game match play rounds on a total of five different lane conditioning patterns, during the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling VI at South Point in October, Russell overcame a slow start when he sat in 62nd place after the opening Cheetah Championship qualifying round. The key was to not panic.
“I usually bowl good on the Cheetah, which surprised me,” Russell said. “I was kind of forced to play a line I wasn’t used to, but I knew I had to be patient because there was a long way to go. I was looking forward to bowling on the next three lane conditioning patterns.”
After the slow start his mindset changed from being patient to remaining focused once he became a contender for the finals.
“I found my biggest challenge was that I started feeling too comfortable with my game and ball reaction,” Russell said. “It doesn't sound like a problem but I found myself getting lazy at times. I overcame it by working shot-to-shot and focusing.
“I was in contention quite a bit throughout the week and it felt good,” he added. “I really felt momentum was in my favor in the last few games. I threw the big shots when I needed them all week, so I felt more confident then I have ever been.”
As the No. 3 qualifier for the telecast, Russell will bowl the winner of the opening match between England’s Stuart Williams and Todd Book of Russells Point, Ohio. If Russell wins his first match he’ll advance to the semifinal against Mike Fagan of Fort Worth. The semifinal winner will take on top qualifier Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas.
After a decade competing on Tour, when he finished second three times without a title, Russell broke through in the 2013 Brunswick Euro Challenge, winning his first PBA Tour title and qualifying for his first berth in the Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions a week later in Indianapolis. He won his second Tour title in the 2014 Bear Open which was part of the Oklahoma Grand Casino Resort Summer Swing.
“I think I'm finally figuring out the mental side of this game after all these years,” Russell said. “I've gained a ton of experience through the good and the bad. I also made an equipment change last spring and since then I think I have turned the corner.”
During the World Series, Russell notched a third-place finish in the Viper Championship followed by a second-place finish in the Chameleon Championship where he lost to DJ Archer, 241-215, in the championship match after bowling the 24th nationally-televised 300 game in PBA history in the opening shootout match.
The PBA World Championship has distinguished itself as one of the premier showcases for the world’s best bowling talent. The winner of the World Championship receives the Earl Anthony Trophy named after late PBA Hall of Famer who holds the record for most World Championship titles with six.
For video highlights of Ronnie Russell click on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsmvV02BxdA
PBA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS
South Point Bowling Plaza, Las Vegas, Nev., Sunday, Jan. 11, 1 p.m. ET (live on ESPN)
Fast Facts about Ronnie Russell
1. Favorite movie: Million Ways to Die in the West
2. Favorite food: Korean BBQ
3. Favorite TV Show: Big Bang Theory
4. Favorite music artist: Justin Moore
5. Most memorable bowling moment: My first 300
6. Most coveted PBA accomplishment: Winning on the PBA Tour
7. Most coveted possession: Next to my family my Taylor guitar
8. Hobbies and other interests: Playing guitar, songwriting, and golfing
9. College degrees: Holds a bachelor’s degree from Vincennes University
10. Favorite sports teams: Cincinnati Reds, Indianapolis Colts, Indiana Hoosiers
11. All-time sports heroes: Barry Larkin, Cincinnati Reds, and Pete Weber
12. Most cherished accomplishment outside of bowling: My family, with wife Michelle Russell and our three children, Cayden, Cameron, and Taylor
13. No. 1 item on my bowling bucket list: Win the U.S. Open
14. No. 1 item on my non-bowling bucket list: Play the Old Course at St. Andrews
15. Accomplishments in other sports: Played college baseball