INDIANAPOLIS – Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Famer Pete Weber of St. Ann, Mo., defeated Australian two-handed star Jason Belmonte in their final match Friday night, 226-183, to claim the top qualifying position for Sunday’s Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions stepladder finals at Woodland Bowl.
The 50-year-old Weber, who is trying for a record-tying 10th major title and a chance to complete the PBA’s Triple Crown for an unprecedented second time, traded leads with Belmonte throughout Friday’s competition before reclaiming the lead in the final game. Weber averaged 236.71 and won 15 of his 24 matches to finish with a 48-game total of 11,812 pins, topping Belmonte by 46 pins for first place.
Weber, who ranks fourth on the all-time PBA Tour titles list with 36, can tie the late Earl Anthony for most PBA major titles if he wins Sunday’s title match. Weber has won the U.S. Open a record five times and the PBA World Championship twice; those events are the other two legs in the PBA Triple Crown.
“When we’re done Sunday, I’ll talk about those things,” Weber said. “I thought I was pulling away from everyone, but all of a sudden, here comes Belmo. I would have been content with second, but I’m happy I only have to bowl one game Sunday.”
Weber credited his older brother Rich for identifying a minor fix in his timing, which made a big difference in the way he has bowled the past two months.
“(Rich) watches me bowl a lot and he never says anything if I’m bowling well,” Weber said. “He hasn’t said anything to me in a couple of months, so I must be doing things right.”
Belmonte, who won his sixth career title and first major title in the United States Bowling Congress Masters in February, had a 14-9-1 match play record and posted a 11,766 pinfall total.
Reigning PBA Player of the Year and defending Tournament of Champions winner Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., qualified third with 11,661 pins. Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, S.C., advanced from 12th place at the start of play Friday to qualify fourth, 25 pins ahead of Finland’s Osku Palermaa. Palermaa defeated Bill O’Neill of Langhorne, Pa., in their final match, 198-194, to hold onto the fifth berth in Sunday’s finals.
The Tournament of Champions finals will air live on ESPN Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET. First prize is $50,000.
BARBASOL PBA TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
Woodland Bowl, Indianapolis, Friday
Final Match Play Standings (after 48 games, including match play bonus pins; top five advance to ESPN stepladder finals Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET)
1, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 15-9, 11,812.
2, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 14-9-1, 11,766.
3, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 15-9, 11,661.
4, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 16-7-1, 11,500.
5, Osku Palermaa, Finland, 12-11-1, 11,475.
6, Bill O’Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 14-10, 11,437, $8,000.
7, Andres Gomez, Colombia, 15-9, 11,320, $7,000.
8, Michael Haugen Jr., Phoenix, 13-9-2, 11,269, $6,500.
9, Stuart Williams, England, 13-11, 11,217, $6,000.
10, Mike DeVaney, Hemet, Calif., 12-11-1, 11,204, $5,500.
11, Dom Barrett, England, 12-12, 11,180, $5,000.
12, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 12-12, 11,149, $4,800.
13, Amleto Monacelli, Venezuela, 12-12, 11,116, $4,600.
14, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 11-13, 11,013, $4,400.
15, Dick Allen, Columbia, S.C., 8-16, 10,998, $4,200.
16, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Ocala, Fla., 13-11, 10,991, $4,000.
17, Rhino Page, Dade City, Fla., 10-14, 10,977, $3,900.
18, Dave Wodka, Henderson, Nev., 10-14, 10,932, $3,800.
19, Anthony LaCaze, Melrose Park, Ill., 9-15, 10,856, $3,700.
20, Doug Kent, Newark, N.Y., 12-12, 10,825, $3,600.
21, Scott Norton, Mission Viejo, Calif., 9-15, 10,778, $3,500.
22, Mike Wolfe, New Albany, Ind., 9-14-1, 10,764, $3,400.
23, Lonnie Waliczek, Wichita, Kan., 10-14, 10,694, $3,300.
24, Patrick Allen, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 8-15-1, 10,515, $3,200.
300 Game: Andres Gomez.