BY EMIL WILLIAMS JR.
Joins Graham Fach, Tommy Jones, Sean Rash and Arturo Quintero as finalists in the season’s first major
EULESS, Texas – Jason Belmonte of Orange, Australia, climbed the ladder and dispatched top seed Jakob Butturff of Tempe, Arizona, to earn the fifth and final spot in the Professional Bowlers Association Players Championship Finals presented by Snickers.
The match took place Monday night at Bowlero Euless and was broadcast live on Fox Sports’ FS1 as part of a six-show series to help determine the first major champion of the 2022 PBA Tour season. Belmonte and Butturff were representing the PBA West Region.
The first five shows were regional showdowns, which featured the five remaining players in each region, who converged on the Dallas-Fort Worth area for a shot at the $ 100,000 top prize and first major title of the 2022 PBA Tour season.
Belmonte joins Graham Fach (East), Tommy Jones (South), Sean Rash (Midwest) and Arturo Quintero (Southwest) in the finals. Fach and Jones won their respective regional finals Saturday evening and Rash and Quintero won their respective regional finals Sunday night. All shows were broadcast live on FS1.
The PBA Players Championship Finals will air live on FS1 on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. Eastern. To determine the seeding for the final show, the five regional winners will return to Bowlero Euless on Friday for a three-game match that will be streamed live on the PBA’s Facebook page at 8 p.m. EST.
Their places in Sunday’s stepladder will be based on the total pinfall for the three games.
After a 10-month hiatus from PBA Tour competition, Belmonte showed no signs of rust by averaging nearly 255 across four matches.
In the final match, Belmonte, the No. 4 seed for the West Region Finals, opened with four strikes in his first six frames, while Butturff struggled to get comfortable, leaving splits in two of his first four frames.
Butturff, who finished fourth in the 2021 West Region Finals, struck three consecutive times, starting in the fifth frame, but a solid 9 pin in the eighth frame ended his attempt at a comeback.
Meanwhile, Belmonte continued his pace on the 45-foot PBA Dragon (left lane) and 39-foot PBA Chameleon (right lane) oil patterns, tossing five consecutive strikes during that span and cruising to a 257-194 victory.
“We developed a bit of a good plan, and I really committed to it,” Belmonte said. “When we started to see some of the changes, we made them quickly. After that, it was up to me to hit what I was looking at. Over the four games, I think I missed what I was looking at once and went Brooklyn, and every other shot I was pretty happy with.”
While his performance spoke volumes, his smile also was the brightest. It was evident the six-time PBA Player of the Year was not only happy with his performance, but genuinely ecstatic to be back as a competitor on the PBA Tour.
“When I was home watching the boys bowl on tour, I hated it,” said Belmonte, with a smile. “I hated watching them because I wanted to be here so badly. I had four games on TV to come back to, so I wanted to try and climb the ladder and have fun. And, I did. I’m loving it. I’m feeling great and I’m very happy.”
Belmonte advanced to the final match after tossing 11 strikes en route to defeating 2021 PBA Steve Nagy Sportsmanship Award winner, Jake Peters of Henderson, Nevada, 278-194. Peters owns one PBA Tour title.
In Match 2, Belmonte quickly dispatched No. 3 seed Wesley Low Jr. of Palmdale, California, 246-149. Low qualified second in 2021 and was one of just five players to qualify for the regional finals in back-to-back years.
In the opening match, Belmonte was tested by No. 5 seed Cortez Schenck of Phoenix.
Schenck, bowling in his first televised event as a PBA member, needed a double and five pins in the 10th frame to knock off Belmonte but left a 4 pin on the first shot to fall short, 238-212. The five players on Monday’s show were the top performers in the West Region last weekend.
Each regional qualifier included 28 games on the two oil patterns – Chameleon and Dragon (14 games each) – and total pinfall determined who advanced.
For the televised portion of the event, both lane conditions were used. Throughout all five broadcasts, the left lane featured the Dragon pattern, and the right lane was Chameleon.
WEST REGION STEPLADDER FINALS RESULTS
Bowlero Euless – Euless, Texas
- Jason Belmonte, Orange, Australia, advances to PBA Players Championship Finals
- Jakob Butturff, Tempe, Ariz., $ 15,000
- Jake Peters, Henderson, Nev., $ 13,000
- Wesley Low Jr., Palmdale, Calif., $ 11,000
- Cortez Schenck, Phoenix, $ 10,000
Match 1 – No. 4 Belmonte def. No. 5 Schenck, 238-212
Match 2 – No. 4 Belmonte def. No. 3 Low, 246-149
Match 3 – No. 4 Belmonte def. No. 2 Peters, 278-194
Match 4 – No. 4 Belmonte def. No. 1 Butturff, 257-194
UPCOMING PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP TELEVISION SCHEDULE
Bowlero Euless – Euless, Texas
All telecasts on FS1
January 29 at 8:30 p.m. ET – PBA Players Championship Finals