COLUMBUS, Ohio – Brad Miller made a big run Thursday in the final round of qualifying and jumped into a tie for the lead with Jason Belmonte at the 2019 PBA Players Championship.
Miller and Belmonte both have an 18-game total of 4,109, a 228.28 average, as the field was cut to the top 24 players for round robin match play at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl.
Match play begins at 6 p.m. Eastern on Thursday live on FloBowling. After 24 games of match play, the top five will advance into Sunday’s stepladder finals.
Miller put together what was easily his best block of the tournament in the third round of qualifying, finishing with a six-game total of 1,451. He had games of 279, 248, 254, 212, 225 and 233 to move into a tie with Belmonte. In the first two rounds of qualifying, Miller was consistent, shooting 1,326 and 1,332.
There is one shot, however, that Miller probably wishes he had back. In the final game of qualifying, Miller whiffed a four pin in the 10th frame that cost him the lead outright.
“I wasn't real confident coming into the tournament but gained confidence as the tournament went on,” Miller said. “I like the condition (PBA 45-foot Dragon) we're bowling on this week but wasn't sure I could take advantage of it because I haven't been bowling well the last couple weeks. I'm anticipating it's going to be kind of a grind going forward. In some ways, the tournament is just beginning. It's easy to go down in the standings, but it's hard to go up.”
Belmonte, meanwhile, continued his downward trend in each round of qualifying. He opened the tournament with 1,508 and then shot 1,309 in the second round. He closed qualifying with 1,292, including a 181 final game.
Defending champion Tom Smallwood sits in third place with 4,074, while Wes Malott made a huge move from 19th place after the second round to fourth place with 4,057. Kyle Troup rounds out the top five with 4,053.
Kris Prather was the last player to make it into match play, finishing in 24th place with 3,854, a 214.11 average. Brandon Novak was the first player out with 3,845.