COLUMBUS, Oho – Anthony Simonsen became the youngest bowler in PBA Tour history to win two career majors as he captured the 2019 PBA Players Championship on Sunday at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl.
Simonsen took down Jason Belmonte, the top-ranked player in the FloBowling PBA Power Rankings, 232-212, in a dramatic championship match in which Belmonte had a chance to win the title.
Needing just a mark to lock up the win, Simonsen tripped out the 9 pin for a strike to begin his celebration. However, it was a stunning final frame for Belmonte just seconds before that took the crowd’s breath away.
Belmonte, who has 10 career major titles, had a chance to own the PBA Tour record for majors outright with 11 with a double and eight in the final frame. Instead, Belmonte stepped up and left a devastating pocket 7-10 split on his first shot in the 10th frame to virtually end his chances.
“The one in the 10th was really good,” Belmonte said. “I was really happy with that off my hand and thought I was going to have to throw another one and another to shut him out. I’ve had a few of those hits go my way in the 19 times that I’ve won. It’s hard to swallow any time you lose, but it’s part of the game.”
Simonsen, who won the 2016 USBC Masters at age 19, watched as Belmonte left not one but two pocket 7-10 splits in the championship match, including one in the fourth frame.
“He had the two 7-10s, and I think everyone says the breaks even out down the road,” said Simonsen, who lost in the Players Championship final to Belmonte, 221-204, in 2017. “Two years ago, I felt like Belmo got the breaks, and this time I was fortunate to be on the other side of it.”
Simonsen made just one major mistake in the match after he was distracted by a cell phone going off in the crowd in the fifth frame. The disturbance caused Simonsen to step back in the middle of his approach and reset.
However, Simonsen got up and left the Greek Church after regrouping and was clearly agitated by the distraction. Although it appeared momentum had shifted in Belmonte’s favor after that moment, Simonsen held strong and fired off four straight strikes heading into the final frame to keep him in the match.
The victory made Simonsen the youngest player in PBA history to win two majors at age 22. Billy Hardwick previously held the record when he won his second major, the PBA Tournament of Champions, in 1965 at age 23.
In the semifinal, Simonsen won with a blowout victory over Kyle Troup, 259-202, for the right to face top seed Belmonte in the championship match.
After winning a pair of matches as the fifth seed, Troup, who had been battling a hand injury since the beginning of match play, said his injury flared up again in the fifth frame. From that point forward, Troup said he wasn’t able to hit the ball the same.
The match was even after six and a half frames, but Simonsen popped two perfect strikes in the seventh and eighth frames to build a 20-pin lead. Troup then left a light 8-10 split in the eighth that all but sealed his fate.
In a match that came down to the final frame, Troup took down third seed DJ Archer, 194-193, to advance into the semifinal.
Archer worked his way back after a 2-4-10 split for an open in the fifth and had a chance to win the match as he finished first. With a double and one pin, Archer would advance, however, he left a 10 pin on his first shot and struck on the fill.
That forced Troup to throw all three strikes in the final frame to win, which is exactly what he did. After the first shot was a nearly disastrous runaway Brooklyn, Troup regrouped with a light strike and a dead-perfect strike on the fill to advance.
Troup survived a high-scoring game against EJ Tackett in the opening match of the stepladder, 255-245, to advance.
Tackett, who finished second at the TOC last week, led throughout the match all the way until the ninth frame when he pitched the ball wide right and left the 1-2 combination.
After the match, Tackett said that was his big miss all week, coming around the top of the ball and pitching it right and it happened “at least once per game.”
Tackett made the spare in the ninth and went strike, strike, 10 pin in the final frame to force Troup to go nine, spare, strike to win by one. Troup struck on his first ball to put the match away.
The PBA Tour next heads to Indianapolis for the Go Bowling! PBA Indianapolis Open, which begins live on FloBowling on Wednesday.