Australia’s Jason Belmonte has completed his PBA return with a clinical display to win in the 2022 PBA Players Championship.
Throwing his trademark ‘bullet’ down the middle of the lane, knowing he needed only a solid count, Belmonte secured the victory. His title match opponent Sean Rash, fresh off his next event suspension and tour probation, was unable to score enough in the last frame to take the win.
The win wrapped up an amazing return performance for Belmonte, who spent the latter half of 2021 home with his family. Whilst he was clinical throughout the tournament, his confidence and presence on the lanes grew with every game.
Securing fourth spot after the qualification rounds. Belmonte went on to bowl undoubtedly the performance of the tournament in the West region stepladder finals. It was a clear display that he hadn’t lost anything during his time away.
Securing second spot in the seedings roll off yesterday, Belmonte again looked in control of his game, only two pins separating him and eventual title match opponent Rash. The second spot meant he would face off in two matches if the title was to be his.
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The first match of today’s final saw experienced PBA players Graham Fach and Tommy Jones face off. Jones, who had thrown big scores all tournament, was unable to proceed as Fach shot an almost flawless 279. Jones was only able to muster a 219 in return.
Awaiting Fach was Mexican Quintero Arturo, the winner set to meet Belmonte in the next match. Fach, unable to continue the form from the game prior, was rough early. Arturo seized the momentum to run away a 248-204 winner.
Belmonte, picking up where he left off, looked to flex from the first frame. Arturo hung in, with one falter from the champ the only thing between him and a maiden title opportunity.
The match went down to the last frame, Belmonte throwing a much needed strike to start the frame, yelling ‘boom’ as the pins exploded.
In the title match, both Rash and Belmonte looked set to take it to the wire early.
Rash held on thanks to a very lucky late four pin drop, after going high pocket in the first frame. But ‘Belmo’, as he had all finals series, embraced the battle. Taking a solid lead into the last frame, he switched balls to a ‘safer’ option, knowing count was all he needed to shut Rash out.
The win takes Belmonte’s career PBA majors record to 14. His total PBA career titles now sit at 26, putting him ninth all time, equal with the late Don Johnson. His majors lead is now a staggering four victories, almost half again of his closest rivals in veterans Pete Weber and Earl Anthony.
Will this victory put the G.O.A.T. argument to bed once and for all?
Next stop for the PBA players will be the US Open, commencing Sunday (US time). It’s another event Belmonte has won previously, and looks poised to go deep into the tournament again.
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