FAIRLAWN, Ohio – Earl Anthony and Pete Weber, you’ve got company.
Jason Belmonte tied the two bowling greats by winning a record 10th career major at AMF Riviera Lanes on Sunday at the 2019 PBA Tournament of Champions. Belmonte, the top seed, defeated EJ Tackett, 225-196.
“I don’t think it’s completely sunk in but just the simple fact that my name is next to Earl Anthony and Pete Weber doesn’t seem real, it seems a bit odd,” said Belmonte, who has 19 career PBA Tour titles. “I have this really overwhelming feeling to get No. 11 now. It has really motived me to work harder and not be content equaling them. I want to win as many as I can.”
Belmonte, who also tied the record for most career TOC victories with three joining Jason Couch and Mike Durbin, will have a chance to own the career major victory record outright next week when the PBA Players Championship takes place in Columbus, Ohio.
Against Tackett, Belmonte dominated much like he did much of the week in qualifying and match play, jumping out to a 30-plus pin lead near the halfway point of the match.
By the time the 10th frame rolled around, Belmonte needed just a mark to shut Tackett out. After leaving a pocket 10 pin, Belmonte nailed it for the spare to begin his celebration.
Tackett, meanwhile, spent most of the championship match shooting spares, struggling to strike throughout the game. He tossed just four strikes in his 196 game, one of which was on a meaningless fill ball.
If a player had shot a 300 game in the championship match, the PBA and FOX Sports would have awarded a $1 million prize. Belmonte started the championship match with four strikes in a row, creating a small amount of buzz before he left a ringing 10 pin in the fifth to end the million-dollar threat.
The semifinal match between Tackett and Marshall Kent was even at the halfway point, but Tackett pulled away after the commercial break to win, 238-192.
When the match paused for a long commercial break after five and a half frames, the match was even, but Tackett stepped up and tossed two quick strikes to take a 20-pin lead.
Kent then stepped up on his first shot after the break and left the 1-2-4-10 washout, which he missed and trailed by 32 pins. The match was never close again. With the loss, Kent’s career record on television dropped to 3-12.
Tackett won a high-scoring battle in the second match of the stepladder finals, defeating Josh Blanchard, 264-236, to advance to the semifinal.
Tackett jumped out to a 31-pin lead after four frames before leaving and missing the 2-10 split in the fifth, to tighten up the match.
Blanchard, meanwhile, made the switch from urethane to reactive in the third frame and it turned out to be a move that kept him in the match. Blanchard struck on six of his next seven shots and led by five after he finished the ninth frame.
Tackett, however, also strung strikes after his split in the fifth and needed a strike in the ninth, two in the 10th and six on the fill for the shutout. He tossed solid strikes in the ninth and first one in the 10th, but on the crucial second shot in the final frame, he went Brooklyn and carried it for a strike to essentially lock up the win.
In an interesting opening match, Blanchard advanced by defeating Sean Lavery-Spahr, 190-180, in a match that came down to the final frame.
Lavery-Spahr, who earlier in the match converted the 8-10 split, had a chance to win it in the 10th frame with just a good count mark. However, Lavery-Spahr got the ball in a little bit and came in light, leaving the difficult 2-8-10 split. He was only able to pick off the two pin and lost the match.
Blanchard led the first five frames before opening in the sixth when he chopped the 2-4-5 combination. He opened again in the ninth frame, chopping the two pin off the five, giving Lavery-Spahr a shot to win the match.
The PBA Tour next heads to Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl in Columbus, Ohio, for the second major of the season, the PBA Players Championship. Coverage begins live on FloBowling on Wednesday at 11 a.m. Eastern.