Australian two-handed star Jason Belmonte, with a 279 final game, jumped into the lead as the Barbasol Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Tournament of Champions (TOC) field headed into the final round of match play Friday at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis, IN.
Belmonte, who won his sixth career title and first major title in the United States Bowling Congress Masters in February, spent the fifth round in either second or third place before overtaking PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber of St. Ann, MO, by seven pins in the final game of the fifth round. Belmonte averaged 238.05 for 40 games, posting a modest 8-7-1 match play record and a 9,777 pinfall total.
“It’s such a long format, I find myself slowing down in the middle, missing a few spares that I’m not proud of,” Belmonte said, “but I refocused and went back to my basics, made good shots and I was proud of the way I finished the round.
“I’m finishing every round strong, which gives me a lot of confidence heading into the final eight games,” he added. “I feel like I’ll be able to throw that big game if I need it.”
Weber, who is trying for a record-tying 10th major title and a chance to complete the PBA’s Triple Crown for an unprecedented second time, had a 10-6 match play record and 9,770 pins. Weber ranks fourth on the all-time PBA Tour titles list with 36, and his nine major titles is second only to the late Earl Anthony’s 10 major wins. He has won the U.S. Open a record five times and the PBA World Championship twice; those events are the other two legs in the PBA Triple Crown.
Finland’s Osku Palermaa, who led after four rounds, fell to third place with a 9,643 total followed by reigning PBA Player of the Year Sean Rash of Montgomery, IL, at 9,585 and Colombia’s Andres Gomez at 9,495.
The top five players after Friday night’s final eight-game match play round will advance to the ESPN stepladder finals on Sunday.
Friday’s final match play round (and the PBA Hall of Fame induction ceremonies Saturday night) will be covered live, exclusively on PBA’s online bowling channel, Xtra Frame. For subscription information, visit pba.com.
BARBASOL PBA TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
Woodland Bowl, Indianapolis, Friday
Round Five (after 40 games, including match play bonus pins)
1, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 8-7-1, 9,777.
2, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 10-6, 9,770.
3, Osku Palermaa, Finland, 8-7-1, 9,643.
4, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 8-8, 9,585.
5, Andres Gomez, Colombia, 10-6, 9,495.
6, Dom Barrett, England, 9-7, 9,448.
7, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 11-4-1, 9,415.
8, Amleto Monacelli, Venezuela, 9-7, 9,385.
9, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 7-9, 9,363.
10, Michael Haugen Jr., Phoenix, 8-7-1, 9,350.
11, Stuart Williams, England, 8-8, 9,347.
12, Dick Allen, Columbia, S.C., 8-8, 9,314.
13, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 8-8, 9,255.
14, Mike DeVaney, Hemet, Calif., 7-9, 9,199.
15, Doug Kent, Newark, N.Y., 10-6, 9,174.
16, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Ocala, Fla., 8-8, 9,150.
17, Scott Norton, Mission Viejo, Calif., 7-9, 9,135.
18, Rhino Page, Dade City, Fla., 8-8, 9,129.
19, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 7-9, 9,088.
20, Dave Wodka, Henderson, Nev., 7-9, 9,045.
21, Mike Wolfe, New Albany, Ind., 6-9-1, 8,958.
22, Anthony LaCaze, Melrose Park, Ill., 5-11, 8,948.
23, Patrick Allen, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 6-9-1, 8,863.
24, Lonnie Waliczek, Wichita, Kan., 6-10, 8,836.
300 Game: Andres Gomez.