INDIANAPOLIS – Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Famer Pete Weber of St. Ann, Mo., wrote another chapter in bowling history Sunday when he defeated Australian two-handed star Jason Belmonte, 224-179, to win the Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions at Woodland Bowl.
The victory made Weber the first player to complete the PBA Triple Crown for a second time and tied bowling legend Earl Anthony for most major PBA titles with 10.
Weber, who was considered one of the professional tour’s power players when he won his first PBA Tournament of Champions with his unique high back swing back in 1978, is now 50 – the oldest player ever to win the Tournament of Champions – and affectionately called “Gramps” by his younger opponents.
He won his second TOC title to go along with five U.S. Open titles and two PBA World Championships to complete the PBA’s Triple Crown a second time, a feat no other bowler has accomplished. He also owns a PBA Touring Players Championship for his other major. His win Sunday was his 37th, tying him for third place on the PBA all-time titles list with Norm Duke, behind Walter Ray Williams Jr. (47) and Anthony (43).
“I don’t know what it is,” Weber said. “I get up for the majors, but there’s one eluding me and the Weber family – the USBC Masters. I really want that one, and I’m not done yet. I’m not slowing down. I have no plans to retire.”
Weber won Sunday with three doubles, four spares and help from Belmonte, who left the 4-10 split three times – failing to convert it twice.
“I woke up today and said my dream would be to bowl Pete and win by a pin,” Belmonte said. “I got half of it right. I bowled Pete, but I lost by 60.
“Pete is the most talented bowler the world has ever seen, and may ever see,” Belmonte added. “To bowl him in the finals and see him break records like he has broken is really special. If I could achieve half of what he has done by the time my career is over, I’ll be ecstatic.”
Belmonte eliminated defending champion Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., 229-171, in the semifinal match. Belmonte started with five strikes while Rash threw only one strike in his first six frames. When Belmonte left the 1-2-4-6-10 in the eighth frame and failed to convert, he gave Rash a glimmer of hope, but Rash was unable to close the gap.
In the second match, Rash followed a first-frame spare with five strikes to build a 34-pin lead over Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, S.C., after Jones left and failed to convert the 3-4-6-7-10 split in his second frame. Despite striking on eight of his last nine shot, Jones was unable to overcome his early mistake against Rash’s error-free game.
Jones started the stepladder finals with a 217-189 victory over Finland’s two-handed star, Osku Palermaa. Jones had a double in the second and third frames which gave him the lead and Palermaa, unable to double the entire game, couldn’t catch up.
The PBA Tour’s winter season ends next Sunday (April 7) when the finals of the Elias Cup, the concluding event of the inaugural PBA League season, airs on ESPN at 1 p.m. ET. The New York City WTT KingPins, owned by women’s sports legend Billie Jean King, is the top-qualifying team for the finals. Other finalists include the Motown Muscle, owned by former Pittsburgh Steelers star Jerome Bettis; the BROOKLYN STyLES, owned by Grey’s Anatomy actor Jesse Williams, and the Dallas Strikers, owned by former NFL great Terrell Owens.
BARBASOL PBA TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
Woodland Bowl, Indianapolis, Sunday
1, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., $50,000.
2, Jason Belmonte, Australia, $25,000.
3, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., $15,000.
4, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., $12,000.
5, Osku Palermaa, Finland, $10,000.
Match One: Jones def. Palermaa, 217-189.
Match Two: Rash def. Jones, 247-233.
Semifinal Match: Belmonte def. Rash, 229-171.
Championship: Weber def. Belmonte, 224-179.