COLUMBUS, Ohio – Over the past two weeks, Jason Belmonte says he is throwing the ball about as good as he ever has in his life. That showed again Friday as he earned the top seed for the stepladder finals at the 2019 PBA Players Championship.
Belmonte has now led 11 rounds of qualifying or match play in a row dating back to last week’s PBA Tournament of Champions. For the second straight week, he’s the top seed and will need to win just one game in the finals to claim another major.
After winning his 10th career major last week and tying the PBA Tour record with Pete Weber and Earl Anthony, Belmonte will have the chance to own the record outright with a victory Sunday at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl.
Belmonte went 17-7 over the course of 24 matches and finished with a total of 10,183, a 230.31 average, to earn the top seed for the PBA Players Championship finals for the third consecutive year. He won the event in 2017 and finished second in 2018.
“I really feel like I know where the ball is going every single frame,” said Belmonte, who has 19 career PBA Tour titles. “These past couple weeks are probably some of the best weeks I’ve ever bowled in my life. It’s really nice when you feel like you are physically executing that the pins are also falling.”
Four other players will battle for the right to face Belmonte for the title with Anthony Simonsen earning the second seed, DJ Archer third, EJ Tackett fourth and Kyle Troup fifth.
The finals will take place at 1 p.m. Eastern on Sunday live on FS1 for audiences in the United States. International fans can watch the finals at the same time live on FloBowling.
“I’d love to get 11 now, just get it out of the way and done and Sunday that’s exactly what my game plan is going to be,” Belmonte said. “I want to come out, throw the exact same shots I’ve been throwing all week, just on TV again, and hopefully I’ll raise the crown again.”
Simonsen finished qualifying in 21st place and made a big run throughout match play to earn the No. 2 seed. He finished with a 17-6-1 match-play record and a 10,014 total, including 30 bonus pins for each victory.
For most of the final round of match play Friday night, Belmonte and Simonsen were comfortably inside the cut number with a tough battle to earn the last three spots on the show.
Archer posted the best match-play record in the field at 18-5-1 to earn the third seed with 9,763. Archer has two career PBA Tour titles, the most recent coming in 2015, and will be looking for his first career major.
Earning the fourth seed and hoping for a finals rematch again this week against Belmonte was Tackett, who totaled 9,744 with a 15-9 record. Belmonte defeated Tackett 225-196 to win the TOC last week in Fairlawn, Ohio.
The final spot on the show came down to the position round match between Troup and defending champion Tom Smallwood. Troup defeated Smallwood in that match, 246-192, to move into the show with a total of 9,736 and 12-12 record.
Smallwood ended up dropping to seventh place, while PBA Hall of Famer Chris Barnes missed the show by just 33 pins in sixth place.