Bowling News USA - April 13, 2012 Belmonte Charges To the Lead at T of C...Baby Belmo on the Way!
Storm's Jason Belmonte, while texting his pregnant, overdue wife between frames, averaged 251.1 while winning seven of his first nine match games Friday afternoon to charge into the lead in the PBA Tournament of Champions at Red Rock Lanes.
With nine games remaining Friday night, Belmonte, a 28-year-old two-handed player, had an 18-game total of 6,619 pins and a 120-pin lead over Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., is the race for four berths in Sunday’s finals. The final event of the 2011-12 PBA Tour season, a major championship with an $80,000 first prize, will air live on ESPN at 1 p.m. ET.
Belmonte, who returned to the United States because a Tournament of Champions victory will give him a a fourth title for the 2011-12 season and a decided edge in the PBA Player of the Year race, said he wouldn’t have made the trip if his wife Kimberly hadn’t insisted.
“Kimberly is an amazing person,” Belmonte said. “She’s about to have a child and she’s the one who pushed me to go. I would have been perfectly content to stay home.
“I’m messaging her basically every frame,” he added. “She was due three days ago, but she’s really hanging in there. Now it’s really a race against time.
“There’s a lot riding on this tournament, so you don’t want to come this far and fail. As happy as I am to be in this position, I won’t be happy to come this far and not accomplish what I came here to do. The mission is to win. That’s what I left Australia to do, but I’m pretty sure that’s what everyone else in this field came here to do as well.”
Belmonte started Friday’s match play competition in fourth place, 174 pins behind leader Mike Fagan of Dallas, but came out of the starting gate with a 290 game and barely slowed down. Rash moved up from fifth to second with a 6-3 match play record and 6,499 total pins. Defending champion Mika Koivuniemi of Hartland, Mich., was third with a 6,480 total followed by Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, N.Y., with 6,463 pins. Fagan, who lost seven of his nine matches, trailed Ciminelli by 74 pins in the battle for the fourth spot in the finals.
Belmonte, who had not won a PBA Tour title since his PBA Rookie of the Year season in 2009 prior to winning three times during the PBA World Series of Bowling earlier in the season, has yet to win a major title and if he wins PBA Player of the Year honors, he’ll become only the fourth player in PBA history to win both Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year honors. The three players who have accomplished that feat are Mike Aulby, Chris Barnes and Tommy Jones.
Bowling fans can follow the final nine games of match play Friday night through the PBA’s exclusive coverage on Xtra Frame, the PBA’s online bowling channel; through live scoring on pba.com, and through the Professional Bowlers Association on Facebook and Twitter. Subscriptions to Xtra Frame are available on the pba.com home page.
PBA TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
Red Rock Lanes, Las Vegas, Friday
ROUND OF 36 STANDINGS (after 27 of 36 games, including match play bonus pins. Top 4 after 36 games advance to ESPN stepladder finals Sunday at 1 p.m. ET):
1, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 7-2, 6,619. (Storm)
2, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 6-3, 6,499.
3, Mika Koivuniemi, Finland, 6-3, 6,480.
4, Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 7-2, 6,463.
5, Mike Fagan, Dallas, 2-7, 6,389.
6, Osku Palermaa, Finland, 4-5, 6,313. (Storm)
7, Rhino Page, Dade City, Fla., 2-7, 6,311. (Storm)
8, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 6-3, 6,253. (Roto Grip)
9, Eugene McCune, Munster, Ind., 5-4, 6,214.
10, Andres Gomez, Colombia, 5-4, 6,194. (Storm)
11, Tom Daugherty, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 5-4, 6,192.
12 (tie), Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, 5-4, and Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y., 5-4, 6,186. (Storm)
14, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 2-7, 6,131. (Storm)
15, Bill O'Neill, Southampton, Pa., 4-5, 6,126.
16, Dave Wodka, Henderson, Nev., 5-4, 6,097.
17, Robert Smith, Los Angeles, 3-6, 6,000.
18, Stuart Williams, England, 2-7, 5,908.
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