SHAWNEE, Okla. – Ten years after winning his second Professional Bowlers Association major title in the 2007 Tournament of Champions, Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, S.C., was in position to end his “majors” dry spell in the 52nd FireLake PBA Tournament of Champions.
Jones, a 38-year-old 18-time PBA Tour title winner, averaged 240 for the first 16 qualifying games at FireLake Bowling Center to take the second round lead Thursday by 19 pins over PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber of St. Ann, Mo., who is trying for a PBA-record 11th major title.
Weber missed an opportunity a week ago when he fell four pins short of making the stepladder finals in the Barbasol PBA Players Championship in Columbus, Ohio.
Jones, who also won the 2006 U.S. Open, rolled games of 279, 196, 279, 243, 191, 232, 244 and 247 in Thursday’s eight-game round to finish with 3,848 pins. With 23 more qualifying games on tap Friday and Saturday, Jones was in a good position to reach Sunday’s live ESPN stepladder finals, but he wasn’t taking anything for granted.
“Scores are pretty high, so early in the round you can play the right side of the lane and depending on which players you follow (as you move across the 24-lane bowling center), you have to change equipment to match up with the conditions as they change,” Jones said. “I had to change balls six times to stay ahead of the moves, but because there are only 12 pairs of lanes at FireLake, you kinda know what to expect because year after year, the characteristics of each pair of lanes don’t change that much.
“I threw a lot of strikes, but I had quite a few open frames, too,” he added. “You can’t afford opens when scores are like this, so that’s something I need to work on.
“We’re not halfway done yet, so the goal is to stay ahead of the moves and keep striking. At this point, you have to think game to game, pair to pair and not worry about anything else.”
After two rounds, the leader board also included 37-time PBA Tour titlist and Hall of Famer Norm Duke of Clermont, Fla., in third place with 3,824 pins; last year’s qualifying leader Mitch Beasley of Clarksville, Tenn., in fourth with 3,804 pins and 2016 GEICO PBA Player of the Year EJ Tackett of Huntington, Ind., in fifth place with 3,799 pins. England’s Dom Barrett was 17 pins behind Tackett, but defending champion Jesper Svensson of Sweden was in danger of missing Friday’s cut, sitting in 60th place.
Friday’s schedule includes a seven-game qualifying round for all players, after which the top 24 based on 23-game pinfall totals will advance to a fourth eight-game qualifying round Friday night. The top 16 after 31 games will bowl a final eight-game qualifying round Saturday morning to determine the top five for Sunday’s live ESPN finals at 1 p.m. ET.
Fans can follow scoring as it happens on pba.com’s Live Scoring feature. All qualifying rounds also are covered live on PBA’s Xtra Frame online video streaming service. To subscribe, visit xtraframe.tv. The live stepladder finals will air on ESPN Sunday at 1 p.m. ET, and will be live streamed simultaneously on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.
FIRELAKE PBA TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
FireLake Bowling Center, Shawnee, Okla., Thursday
Second Round Standings (after 16 games)
1, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 3,848.
2, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 3,829.
3, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 3,824.
4, Mitch Beasley, Clarksville, Tenn., 3,804.
5, EJ Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 3,799.
6, Dom Barrett, England, 3,772.
7, Jason Sterner, Rockledge, Fla., 3,750.
8, Brad Miller, Maryland Heights,, Mo., 3,748.
9 (tie), Matthew O'Grady, Rahway, N.J., and Stuart Williams, England, 3,745.
11, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 3,726.
12, Cameron Weier, Tacoma, Wash., 3,719.
13, Scott Newell, Deland, Fla., 3,710.
14, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 3,708.
15 (tie), Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, and Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y., 3,686.
17, Anthony Lavery-Spahr, Pasadena, Texas, 3,679.
18 (tie), DJ Archer, Friendswood, Texas, and Anthony Simonsen, Austin, Texas, 3,675.
20, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 3,659.
21, Sean Lavery-Spahr, Pasadena, Texas, 3,658.
22 (tie), BJ Moore III, Greensburg, Pa., and Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, 3,648.
24, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 3,634.
25, Dino Castillo, Highland Village, Texas, 3,626.
26, Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J., 3,613.
27, Greg Ostrander, Freehold, N.J., 3,612.
28, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 3,598.
29, Bryon Smith, Roseburg, Ore., 3,591.
30, Osku Palermaa, Finland, 3,585.
31, AJ Johnson, Oswego, Ill., 3,582.
32, Rhino Page, Orlando, Fla., 3,581.
33, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 3,575.
34, Thomas Larsen, Denmark, 3,573.
35, Andres Gomez, Colombia, 3,571.
36, Aaron Lorincz, Belleville, Mich., 3,568.
37, Ronnie Sparks Jr., Redford, Mich., 3,566.
38, Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind., 3,565.
39, Anthony Pepe, Elmhurst, N.Y., 3,563.
40, Dick Allen, Columbia, S.C., 3,551.
41, Mike Edwards, Tulsa, Okla., 3,539.
42 (tie), Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., and Francois Lavoie, Canada, 3,538.
44, Josh Blanchard, Mesa, Ariz, 3,512.
45, Bryan Goebel, Shawnee, Kan., 3,509.
46, Connor Pickford, Plano, Texas, 3,504.
47, Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y., 3,475.
48, Jake Peters, Henderson, Nev., 3,468.
49, Kyle Troup, Taylorsville, N.C., 3,459.
50, w-Kelly Kulick, Union, N.J., 3,451.
51, Shawn Maldonado, Houston, 3,443.
52 (tie), Darren Tang, San Francisco, and Tom Hess, Urbandale, Iowa, 3,439.
54, Mike Bailey, Irving, Texas, 3,413.
55, Lonnie Waliczek, Wichita, Kan., 3,409.
56, Graham Fach, Canada, 3,397.
57, Jakob Butturff, Tempe, Ariz., 3,393.
58 (tie), Walter Ray Williams Jr., Oxford, Fla., and Dave Wodka, Beavercreek, Ohio, 3,385.
60, Jesper Svensson, Sweden, 3,375.
61, w-Clara Guerrero, Colombia, 3,369.
62, Paul Brewbaker II, Midwest City, Okla., 3,360.
63, Blake Demore, Springfield, Mo., 3,353.
64, Mike Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas, 3,308.
65, Mike Wolfe, New Albany, Ind., 3,292.
66, Gary Faulkner Jr., Memphis, Tenn., 3,265.
300 Games: Pete Weber, Kyle Troup, Sean Rash, Matt O’Grady, Jakob Butturff, Dom Barrett.