Through about one-third of the PBA season, the PBA Playoffs race is starting to take shape. Three of the brightest stars hold the early podium positions, while a host of fresh faces find themselves within contention.
The top 16 players will advance to the PBA Playoffs in April.
1. Jason Belmonte - 16,370 With two titles, including a major, and an additional top-three performance at the U.S. Open, Belmonte has a stranglehold on the 2022 Player of the Year race. Should he take home the award in 2022, he’ll tie Walter Ray Williams Jr. with seven career POY awards. Williams won his seven POY awards over a 24-year period, spanning four different decades.
As if you needed another ridiculous Belmo stat: Belmonte could notch his seventh within a single decade. The merits of those accomplishments can be debated another time, perhaps when Belmonte actually wins his seventh, but it’s impressive to note nonetheless.
Next up: the Tournament of Champions, where no player has found more success than Belmonte.
2. Anthony Simonsen - 11,380 Before Belmonte can start making room on his trophy shelf, he’ll have to stave off a host of hungry adversaries, starting with Simonsen. The 25-year-old has a major title in 2022—while defeating Belmonte in memorable fashion—and racked up another championship-round appearance in Kokomo. A second major title would almost assuredly elevate Simonsen into the pole position of the Player of the Year race.
3. EJ Tackett - 10,255 On top of his third-place performance this week, Tackett ran laps around the U.S. Open field before falling in the title match. The gap between Tackett and the next player on the list is remarkable considering Tackett has yet to win a title in 2022. He’s made all four cuts—one of four players to do so—and his fourth-place finish in the Midwest Region of the Players Championship has been his lowest finish of the season so far.
The moment he overcomes whatever has afflicted his ability to win in championship rounds in recent years—whether it’s a mental block, bad luck or some combination—he’ll morph into a player nobody wants to match up against. (Not that anyone wants to face him now.)
4. Sean Rash - 7,445 Rash, returning from his suspension, earned a T-12th place finish in Kokomo. He sits in a tier of his own, behind the big three but ahead of the rest.
5. Dom Barrett - 6,060 After leading qualifying at the Southwest Region of the Players Championship, he posted consecutive top-six performances in the Storm Cup events, including a championship-round appearance in Jackson. The U.S. Open has been the lone hiccup in Barrett’s stellar 2022 campaign.
6. Jake Peters - 6,005 Peters finished with four consecutive games under 200 to miss his first cut of the season in Kokomo by just 40 pins. While he has been one of the best stories on Tour this season, he’s been one of the best players, full stop.
7. Nicholas/Nick Pate - 5,750 Tom Clark said during the Kokomo Championship telecast that there may not be a hotter player on tour than Pate, who has finished third and second in the past two events. The 28-year-old Pate has come into his own in 2022, and would likely sit inside the top five of the points race if he competed at the U.S. Open.
8. AJ Johnson - 5,670 Johnson’s season has gone in the opposite direction of Pate’s, missing consecutive cuts in the Storm Cup events. But there’s no need to send the panic alarm; Johnson sits comfortably in the Playoffs race through four events.
9. Bill O’Neill - 5,530 O’Neill finds himself right in the middle of a tightly contested Playoffs field through four tournaments. He’s been one of the most consistent players on Tour this season, making all four cuts.
10. Tommy Jones - 5,510 Jones hasn’t exactly bowled poorly the past two weeks, but he has missed each of the last two cuts following a sensational start to the season. He’ll look to make another deep run at the Tournament of Champions next week.
11. Jesper Svensson - 5,375 Svensson followed up his dominant win in Jackson with a 50th-place finish in Kokomo. Even though the 27-year-old has disappointed in two of his three tournaments this season, he’s liable to strike lightning in a bottle at any moment—and when he finds it, he’s all but unbeatable.
12. Arturo Quintero - 5,330 Quintero had been a bit of a ghost since storming onto the scene at the Players Championship, struggling at the U.S. Open and not competing in Jackson. But he returned to action in Kokomo and came within 26 pins of making another championship-round appearance. A fifth-place finish puts Quintero right back into Playoffs contention.
13. Brad Miller - 5,250 The 31-year-old is still chasing his first career national PBA title, but seems to have found his footing on the tour as he has made all four cuts this season. However, he’ll have to survive the PTQ to compete in the Tournament of Champions next week.
14. Patrick/Packy Hanrahan - 5,117.5 Hanrahan couldn’t replicate his second place finish in Jackson, posting a 48th place performance in Kokomo, but he remains inside the top-16 through four events in 2022. He’ll join Miller in a heavily contested PTQ field.
15. Tom Daugherty - 5,075 and 16. Kyle Troup - 4,890 Troup and Daugherty—the only players to win two titles including a major last season—sit just inside the Playoffs cut through four events in 2022. They both performed well at the Players Championship, but have alternated finding success in the three tournaments since.
It’s a testament to their abilities that they are still within the playoffs after disappointing starts to their season, relatively speaking. The two only trail Barrett, who sits in fifth place, by about 1,000 points.
17. DJ Archer - 4,487.5 Archer’s up-and-down season continued in Kokomo, as he missed the cut with a 36th-place finish. He is the first player outside the playoff cut through four tournaments.
18. François Lavoie - 4,450 Lavoie has struggled mightily over the past two weeks, posting finishes of 47th and 58th in Jackson and Kokomo, respectively. He’ll look to get back on track and defend his Tournament of Champions title next week, one of last season’s most impressive victories.
19. Sam Cooley - 4,445 Belmonte must not have been too happy about ceding the Aussie belt to Cooley last week. Cooley has missed the cut in two consecutive events after strong performances at the majors, but has not lost much ground in the Playoffs race.
20. Brandon Novak - 4,415 Novak clings onto the last spot after dangling in 19th the past two weeks. He’s been consistent all season, but will need more performances like his top-10 showing at the U.S. Open to ascend into the playoffs.
Dropped outside the top 20: Wesley Low Jr., Patrick Dombrowski