INDIANAPOLIS – Rhino Page of Orlando, Fla., survived a heated challenge Friday nig ht at Woodland Bowl to hold on to the top qualifying position for Sunday’s finals in the 50th anniversary Barbasol Professional Bowlers Association Tournament of Champions by 45 pins over defending champion Jason Belmonte of Australia.
Page, who is hoping to win the Tournament of Champions title that evaded him in 2009, won 15 of his 24 matches and tied another, averaging 243.9 for 48 games for a 12,172 pinfall total. Belmonte, who hounded Page the entire tournament, closed his Friday morning round with a 300 game to move into second place and stayed there, finishing with 12,127 pins.
Page, the 2008 PBA Rookie of the Year and a three-time title winner, is trying for his first title since 2009 and hopes to erase the memory of his errant four-count in the 10th frame of the 2009 TOC title match that cost him a 267-263 loss to Patrick Allen.
“It was a lot more exciting than I hoped it would be,” Page said. “I don’t think I’ve ever led from start to finish before, but now it doesn’t matter who I bowl, I get a little payback for the 2009 show. I know I’m going to bowl for the title, no matter what the other guys do.
“That 2009 show doesn’t bother me as much as people think,” he continued. “It doesn’t define my career. It was one bad shot. If people want to call that a choke, then everyone chokes.”
Qualifying No. 1 after undergoing potential career-ending wrist surgery two years ago is what Page thinks about more than that bad shot five years ago.
“When you’re going through surgery, there are some scary moments when you don’t know if you’ll ever be back,” he said. “To preserver through all of that and be bowling in the TOC title match? Tears almost flowed. It’s surreal. I just hope it’s the start of things to come.”
Belmonte, who won the United States Bowling Congress Masters for a record third consecutive time last Sunday, is again in position to make history. The Australian two-handed player is trying for his fifth major title in three years, and he also has a chance to become the first player in PBA history to win back-to-back titles in both the Masters and Tournament of Champions.
Also advancing to Sunday’s finals are two-time PBA Tour titlist Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, N.Y.; 2012 TOC winner Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., who won that title with a 239-205 victory over Ciminelli, and Scott Norton of Mission Viejo, Calif., who threw the final five strikes in his 48th game to nip Allen by two pins to capture the fifth berth.
The five-player stepladder finals will be televised live on ESPN Sunday at 1 p.m. ET First prize is $50,000 and the second major title of the 2015 season.
The Tournament of Champions finals Sunday are part of a PBA-ESPN tripleheader weekend. The finals of the PBA Players Championship will be held Saturday at 7 p.m. at Woodland Bowl for telecast on ESPN on Sunday, Feb. 22, at 1 p.m. ET. The finalists, determined during a qualifying event earlier in the month in Milwaukee, will be top qualifier Parker Bohn III of Jackson, N.J., a PBA Hall of Famer and 33-time title winner; two-time PBA Tour titlist Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind.; Belmonte; PBA Hall of Famer and 37-time winner Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., and one-time titlist Tom Daugherty, Tampa, Fla.
At 4:30 p.m. Sunday, following the live TOC finals, the Mark Roth/Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship will be contested for telecast on Sunday, March 1, at 1 p.m. ET. The Baker-format doubles finals – in which players will bowl alternate frames – will include top qualifiers Duke and Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, the defending champions; Dino Castillo, Carrollton, Texas, and Daugherty; Belmonte and partner Bill O’Neill, Langhorne, Pa.; DJ Archer, Friendswood, Texas, bowling with Shawn Maldonado, Houston, Texas, and England’s Dom Barrett with Osku Palermaa, Finland. Among the 10 finalists, Castillo and Maldonado are the only players who have not won a PBA Tour title.
50TH ANNIVERSARY BARBASOL PBA TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
Woodland Bowl, Indianapolis, Feb. 13
Final Match Play Standings (after 48 games, including match play bonus pins; top five advance to ESPN stepladder finals Sunday at 1 p.m. ET)
1, Rhino Page, Orlando, Fla., 15-8-1, 12,172.
2, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 14-9-1, 12,127.
3, Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 12-11-1, 11,944.
4, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 13-11, 11,911.
5, Scott Norton, Mission Viejo, Calif., 15-9, 11,878.
6, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 10-13-1, 11,859, $7,000.
7, Patrick Allen, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 14-10, 11,833, $6,000.
8, Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J., 12-10-2, 11,713, $5,200.
9, Liz Johnson, Cheektowaga, New York, 13-10-1, 11,649, $4,600.
10, Dan MacLelland, Canada, 12-12, 11,639, $4,200.
11, Dom Barrett, England, 12-12, 11,634, $4,000.
12, D.J. Archer, Friendswood, Texas, 14-10, 11,612, $3,800.
13, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 15-8-1, 11,574, $3,600.
14, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 12-12, 11,525, $3,500.
15, Mike Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas, 8-16, 11,450, $3,400.
16, Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich., 12-11-1, 11,405, $3,300.
17, E.J. Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 11-12-1, 11,391, $3,200.
18, Brian Valenta, Lockport, Ill., 9-15, 11,319, $3,100.
19, Anthony Lavery-Spahr, Pasadena, Texas, 12-12, 11,279, $3,000.
20, Anthony LaCaze, Melrose Park, Ill., 12-12, 11,229, $2,900.
21, J.R. Raymond, Bay City, Mich., 8-16, 11,110, $2,800.
22, Eugene McCune, Munster, Ind., 6-18, 11,036, $2,700.
23, Patrick Dombrowski, Parma, Ohio, 9-15, 10,989, $2,600.
24, x-Osku Palermaa, Finland, 6-2, 10,862, $2,500.
25, Mike Fagan, Fort Worth, Texas, 7-9, 9,170, $1,950.
x-Palermaa replaced Fagan, who withdrew due to injury.
300 Games (3): Jason Belmonte, Patrick Allen, Dan MacLelland.