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FAIRLAWN, Ohio – Bill O’Neill posted a 19-5 match play record as he earned the top seed Friday for the stepladder finals at the 2020 PBA Tournament of Champions.
O’Neill finished with a 42-game total of 9,717 (+1,317), a 217.79 average, at AMF Riviera Lanes and will bowl for the title Sunday at 5 p.m. Eastern live on FOX (United States) and FloBowling (international).
Joining O’Neill on the show will be second seed Anthony Simonsen, third seed Jason Belmonte, fourth seed Kris Prather and fifth seed Sean Rash.
Although Simonsen averaged over two and a half pins per game more than O’Neill, it was O’Neill’s bonus pins from match play wins that got him the top seed.
“It was some good bowling at times and some really good fortune times as well,” O’Neill said. “To go 19-5 in match play you have to have a lot of luck on your side and I had that. If you look at everything you’d probably say Anthony out bowled me in this tournament. I don’t think that’s going out on a limb.”
Simonsen, who averaged a tournament high 220.33, went 14-10 in match play and finished with a total of 9,674 (+1,274). It will be Simonsen’s first show of the season and also his first appearance in the finals of the TOC.
Belmonte qualified for match play in 24th place and was the last player inside the cut number. He advanced by a single pin and made the most of it, going 17-7 in matches to climb all the way into the third position with a total of 9,594 (+1,194).
The event’s defending champion, Belmonte will look to win his fourth TOC title on Sunday and become the first player to ever accomplish the feat. He already holds the PBA record for career majors with 11 and has made the show at five of the past six majors dating back to 2019.
Prather, who won his first two career titles last season, qualified fourth with a 13-11 record and total of 9,393 (+993). He is looking to win his first career major title.
In the final position round game, Rash held on to barely make the show by just three pins over Kyle Troup. Rash finished with a 12-12 record and a total of 9,371 (+971).
Leading Troup by 40 pins going into the position round, Rash just needed to stay within nine pins of Troup to make the show. Despite missing a 10 pin down the stretch, Rash converted the 2-4-5 in the final frame and got enough count to advance.