MUNICH, Germany – After 10 years and 142 tournaments, Indianapolis area native Ronnie Russell captured his first Professional Bowlers Association Tour title Sunday, earning a berth in the Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions which gets underway Wednesday at Woodland Bowl in his home town.
Russell, a 33-year-old right-hander, defeated Sweden’s James Gruffman, 224-210, to win the Brunswick Euro Challenge at Dream Bowl Palace. The tournament is part of the World Tenpin Bowling Association-PBA International Tour.
Russell jumped out to an early lead in the title match, starting with three strikes, but the tall Swedish left-hander fought his way back. Russell got a big break when Gruffman left the 4-6-10 split late in the game. With a strike on his first ball in the 10th frame, Russell locked up the title.
With his win, Russell became eligible to compete in the PBA Tournament of Champions for the first time, eliminating Cincinnati’s Brian Himmler, who held the 48th and final berth among eligible PBA Tour champions. The Barbasol PBA TOC features an exclusive field of the 48 most recent PBA Tour champions along with any past TOC champions who elect to enter. The tournament will conclude next Sunday with a five-player stepladder final airing live on ESPN at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Russell earned 15,000 Euros, equal to roughly $18,750 U.S. dollars. Gruffman earned 7,500 Euros ($9,375) and England’s Dom Barrett, who lost to Gruffman in the semifinal match, 210-207, won 5,000 Euros ($6,250).
Australia’s Jason Belmonte finished fourth, Finland’s Osku Palermaa sixth and Chris Loschetter of Avon, Ohio, eighth – each earning $2,500.