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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Australia’s Jason Belmonte leads the field of 24 bowlers after the first round of match play at the 2020 PBA Players Championship at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl.
Belmonte holds the top spot with a 26-game total of 6,184 (+984) as the field heads into Thursday’s final two rounds of match play. After 42 total games, the top five players will advance to Saturday’s stepladder finals.
Despite a 3-4-1 match play record, Belmonte averaged 232.63 in the eight games Wednesday night to add pins to the board to boost his total. The two-hander from Australia leads a tightly bunched top seven who are all within 101 pins of each other.
“Sometimes, you can get on a run and you feel like you can’t lose,” Belmonte said. “And there are other times where you are averaging 230 and can’t get a win.”
Belmonte, who closed out his night with a 233-226 win over Sean Lavery-Spahr to hold the lead, expects his game plan will be similar in the morning tomorrow but may change throughout the day.
“I think it’s going to change tomorrow night,” Belmonte said. “Tomorrow morning will probably be something similar to what we played on tonight. I think Thursday night will be moving day for many guys because I feel like the lanes will hook a lot up front and even tighter down lane.”
PBA Hall Of Famer Norm Duke came into match play as the top qualifier and was just six pins shy of Belmonte for the lead after the first round of match play. Duke finished with 6,178 (+978) with a 4-4 match-play record.
EJ Tackett (6,147) and Tom Daugherty (6,146) sit third and fourth with both bowlers going 6-2 match play and earning a lot of bonus pins to climb up the standings.
“I had the luck of the draw tonight,” Daugherty said. “I won my first five matches. Guys were bowling big games around me, and I just happened to catch the right guys at the right time. Winning matches was huge tonight.”
England’s Stu Williams had the top spot in match play at one point in Round 1 but finished in the fifth spot at round’s end with 6,128 (+928) with the best match play record out of all bowlers in field at 7-1.
Marshall Kent (6,107) and Bill O’Neill (6,083) sit less than 45 pins outside the cut for Saturday’s show. Two-time U.S. Open champion Francois Lavoie (6,018) and last week’s PBA Tournament of Champions winner Kris Prather (5,997) look to make a move up into those top five spots.