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FAIRLAWN, Ohio – Anthony Simonsen may have held onto his lead after the opening round of match play at the 2020 PBA Tournament of Champions but things are very much up in the air heading into Friday.
Simonsen, who was the top qualifier earlier Thursday, posted a 4-4 record and leads with a total of 5,869 (+669), a 221.12 average at AMF Riviera Lanes. The players will return Friday at 11 a.m. Eastern for the second round of match play live on FloBowling.
The seven-time PBA Tour champion finished the night leading by just eight pins and nearly all of the players have a shot at making the top five for Sunday’s stepladder finals.
“It seemed like the lanes just played difficult in general and adjusting pair to pair was tricky,” Simonsen said. “I felt like I had the pocket under control but it seemed like if I wasn’t striking I was getting splits which made it hard to keep any momentum going.”
Several players made big moves up the leaderboard Thursday night including Andrew Anderson, who posted a 6-2 record to jump from 11th place to second with 5,861 (+661).
Bill O’Neill sits in third with a 6-2 record and total of 5,850 (+650). Tom Daugherty is fourth with 5,786 (+586) and Dom Barrett rounds out the top five with 5,763 (+563).
Defending champion Jason Belmonte barely made it into match play, earning the last spot by just a single pin. He surged in the opening round of match play, jumping from 24th place to eighth with a 6-2 record and a total of 5,733 (+533). Belmonte now sits just 30 pins off the show and 136 pins off the lead.
“You just have to remember that once qualifying ends you’re not even halfway through the tournament so there’s time to make a move,” said the five-time and reigning PBA Player of the Year. “I started using a urethane ball to start the round but that wasn’t working so we tried some things and a couple different balls. Fortunately, I found one that I felt comfortable with and started striking.”
The players will bowl the final 16 games of match play throughout the day Friday to determine who advances to the show. The second round kicks off at 11 a.m. Eastern and the final round will begin at 6 p.m. Eastern live on FloBowling.