A Bridesmaid No More: Butturff Wins First Major

LAS VEGAS – After finishing second three times in major events, Jakob Butturff finally got the job done Monday night.

Butturff defeated Mykel Holliman, 228-196, to claim his first career major title at the 2019 United States Bowling Congress Masters. It’s Butturff’s sixth overall title.

Prior to Monday’s win, Butturff had finished second at the PBA World Championship last week and was the runner-up at the 2017 U.S. Open and the 2018 U.S. Open.

“After the second U.S. Open, it hurt because it was back-to-back years, and I wondered if I would ever get another opportunity like that again,” Butturff said. “Today, that all changed.”

Battling severe upper back pain in the closing days of the Masters, Butturff persevered to get the victory and was clearly emotional as he threw the winning shot in the final frame.

Butturff spent part of his day leading up to the show getting a massage to try to lessen the pain he was feeling in his back, but he told FloBowling there was still significant pain just before the finals. He said he was grateful he only had to bowl one game.

The lefty with the quirky release and conventional grip drilling struck on four of his first five shots to start the championship match but not all of them were solid strikes. He went Brooklyn to open the match and then carried a light hit for a double in the second frame. By making his spares and staying clean, Butturff was able to stay ahead throughout the title match.

Holliman was within 14 pins heading into the ninth and 10th frames and had a chance to put the pressure on Butturff down the stretch. Instead, Holliman struggled, leaving the 2-4-7-8 in the ninth, and the 1-3-4-6-7 super washout in the 10th frame. He converted both but the damage was already done.

The finals appearance was the first in Holliman’s career and came in just his 11th PBA Tour event. With the second-place finish, Holliman is easily the leader for PBA Rookie of the Year honors at this stage in the season.

In the semifinal, Jake Peters built a 20-pin lead heading into the commercial break but Holliman rallied to take the match, 217-199.

The first frame out of the commercial break, Peters was working on a double but went high in the sixth and left the 3-6-9-10, which he missed. Peters struck in the seventh, but Holliman popped a couple strikes in the seventh and eighth to take an 18-pin lead.

By the time the final frame came around, Holliman just needed a mark to ensure victory, and he tossed a perfect strike.

Peters moved into the semifinal with a 254-226 victory over Ireland’s Chris Sloan in a match that was closer than the final score indicated.

Sloan took the lead with his third consecutive strike in the eighth frame. In the critical ninth frame, however, Sloan went a touch high and the head pin flew in front of the nine pin and left it standing. That gave Peters a chance to lock things up.

Entering the final frame, Peters needed a strike on his first shot to secure the win and he tripped the 4-9 split to get the job done.

The opening match of the stepladder featured the first tie of the season as Sloan and Mitch Hupe finished regulation knotted up at 214.

Hupe forced overtime when he left and converted the 3-6 spare and struck on the fill to end regulation. In the extra frame, Hupe had choice of lane and order as the higher seed and elected to go first. He left a light 4 pin. Sloan then stepped up and delivered a strike to advance.

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