LAS VEGAS – Australia’s Jason Belmonte, who won three of his five career Professional Bowlers Association titles during the 2011 PBA World Series of Bowling, kept his hopes for a three-title repeat alive Thursday when he ran away from the field to claim the top qualifying position for the PBA World Championship finals at South Point Bowling Center.
Belmonte, a 29-year-old two-handed bowler, averaged 240.27 for the 56 games of World Championship qualifying and match play to finish with a 13,455 pinfall total, 29 pins ahead of his fiercest rival, reigning PBA Player of the Year Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill. Belmonte entered the final round of match play in second place, but locked up the lead with a 279 in game six and a 300 in game seven.
Earlier in GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling IV, Belmonte qualified for the Chameleon Championship finals in the No. 1 stepladder position and he earned the No. 2 berth for the Bowlers Journal Scorpion Championship finals.
During World Series III, Belmonte won the Chameleon, Shark and PBA Elite Players Championships. He came into World Series IV fresh off a victory over Rash in the Australian Masters, a PBA International Tour event.
Completing the field for Sunday’s five-man stepladder finals will be Dan MacLelland, who hopes to win his first title which would make him the first Canadian ever to win a PBA Tour event; 2007-08 PBA Rookie of the Year Rhino Page of Dade City, Fla., and PBA Hall of Famer Parker Bohn III of Jackson, N.J., who ranks sixth on the all-time PBA titles list with 32 career victories.
Belmonte, who is trying for his first major title, said, “I’m very, very happy right now. I’d love to win my first major here, and I’d love to win three titles again.
“I knew the other guys would come out firing tonight and I wanted to be one of them,” he continued. “The key was in that 279 game I bowled against Parker. I almost changed balls after that game, but I decided to give the ball I was using one more frame, and I struck, and I followed that with a 300 game. I was one frame away from making a big mistake.”
The sentimental favorite Sunday may be Bohn, who missed the practice session for the World Series because he stayed home an extra day to help his neighbors deal with the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy. He then qualified for the 24th and final position for the match play finals, and battled his way into the finals, striking in the 10th frame to edge Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, S.C., by nine pins for the final spot in the stepladder finals. Bohn, 49, is trying for his first title since winning the Cheetah Championship in December 2008.
The PBA World Championships was the concluding event to the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling IV, and is the PBA’s first major championship of the 2012-13 season. ESPN will air the finals on Sunday, Jan. 13.
GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling IV competition will conclude with six television finals for delayed airing on ESPN Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s lineup, in a special two-lane arena setting in South Point Exhibition Hall A, includes the Bayer Advanced Aspirin World Bowling Tour men’s and women’s finals presented by the PBA at 10 a.m., the Alka Seltzer Plus Cold Cheetah Championship finals at 1 p.m. and the Viper Championship finals at 4 p.m.
Sunday’s lineup includes the Chameleon Championship at noon, the Bowlers Journal Scorpion Championship at 2 p.m. and the PBA World Championship finals at 5 p.m. ESPN will air all six 90-minute finals on consecutive Sundays at 1 p.m. ET, beginning on Dec. 9.
The final live Xtra Frame event of the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling will be the PBA League Draft Friday. Eight PBA League franchise players, based upon their finishes in the 2011-12 PBA competition points race, will select four players each to complete their teams for the new PBA League, which makes its debut in Detroit in January. Xtra Frame, PBA’s online bowling channel, will webcast the entire draft beginning at 10 a.m. Pacific.
PBA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
South Point Bowling Center, Las Vegas, Thursday
Final Match Play Standings (after 56 games, including match play bonus pins; top five advance to the stepladder finals)
1, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 14-10, 13,875.
2, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 16-8, 13,846.
3, Rhino Page, Dade City, Fla., 15-9, 13,619.
4, Dan MacLelland, Canada, 16-8, 13,603.
5, Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J., 15-8-1, 13,587.
Other Cashers (after 56 games):
6, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 10-14, 13,578, $8,000.
7, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 16-8, 13,549, $7,000.
8, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, 12-12, 13,515, $6,500.
9, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 14-9-1, 13,502, $6,000.
10, Dom Barrett, England, 12-12, 13,489, $5,500.
11, Scott Norton, Costa Mesa, Calif., 10-14, 13,313, $5,000.
12, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 12-12, 13,300, $4,800.
13, Mike Fagan, Dallas, 12-12, 13,261, $4,600.
14, Bryon Smith, Roseburg, Ore., 14-10, 13,226, $4,400.
15, Mike Wolfe, New Albany, Ind., 12-12, 13,225, $4,200.
16, Mike DeVaney, Hemet, Calif., 14-10, 13,187, $4,000.
17, Mike Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas, 12-11-1, 13,183, $3,800.
18, Stuart Williams, England, 7-17, 13,142, $3,600.
19, Craig Nidiffer, Trenton, Mich., 12-11-1, 13,084, $3,500.
20, Osku Palermaa, Finland, 8-16, 13,030, $3,400.
21, Hugh Miller, Mercer Island, Wash., 12-12-0, 12,964, $3,300.
22, Joe Ciccone, Buffalo, N.Y., 5-18-1, 12,872, $3,200.
23, Michael Machuga, Erie, Pa., 6-17-1, 12,865, $3,100.
24, Thomas Larsen, Denmark, 9-15, 12,771, $3,000.
300 Games: Pete Weber, Jason Belmonte, Parker Bohn III.