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Jerry Schneider | PBA Media Relations
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Michigan’s Tom Smallwood Wins All Four Stepladder Matches to Capture Barbasol PBA Players Championship Title
Smallwood defeats defending champion and top qualifier Jason Belmonte 259-239for second major and third career tour title
COLUMBUS, Ohio (Feb. 25, 2018) – Tom Smallwood of Saginaw, Mich., won four consecutive stepladder finals matches, including the title match against defending champion Jason Belmonte of Australia, to win the Barbasol PBA Players Championship at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl Sunday for his second major and third career PBA Tour title.
With a 10-pin lead heading into the final frame, the 40-year-old Smallwood struck on his first ball in the 10th to beat Belmonte, 259-239, in the title match for his firsttournament win since the 2013 PBA Scorpion Championship.
The victory thwarted Belmonte’s attempt for a record-tying 10th major and 17th career tour title. Belmonte was the No. 1 qualifier for the finals, and as top qualifier, neededonly to beat Smallwood for the title.
It was an uphill battle for Smallwood for the entire tournament. After finishing 93rd after the first round, he battled back to eventually earn the No. 5 qualifying position for the stepladder finals.
“That’s one of the assets of my game to grind through matches and never quit,” said Smallwood, whose first major came in the 2009 PBA World Championship. “I’m good with the pressure and if I’m not striking a lot I can hang in there to stay in contention. This tournament was a great example of that.”
Smallwood’s stepladder journey to the title started with a 237-206 win over Canadian Patrick Girard, trying for his first tour title, who missed the headpin four times in the first match.
Smallwood then edged out No. 3 qualifier Kris Prather of Plainfield, Ill., who was making his first TV finals appearance, 236-235. With both players working on a string of four strikes and tied heading into the 10th frame, Smallwood was able to take the win with a strike on his first ball and nine on his second shot after Prather struck and then left a seven-count split.
Smallwood then moved on to meet four-time tour winner Marshall Kent of Yakima, Wash., who was coming off a runner-up finish in last week’s PBA 60th Anniversary Classic. Smallwood again escaped with a one-pin victory, 225-224, when he spared in the 10th frame and threw a nine count on his final ball.
“I just kept telling myself to keep everything slow,” said Smallwood. “It was important to read what the ball was doing going down the lane and not overthink it. I just concentrated on keeping the ball in play.
“You could say there was more pressure on some shots than others, but in reality, there’s pressure on every shot,” Smallwood added. “I’m not complaining, this is what I livefor.”
It marked the second consecutive major that the winner won all four stepladder matches for the title. Matt O’Grady of Rahway, N.J., won the PBA Tournament of Champions on Feb. 11 by sweeping all four finals matches.
BARBASOL PBA PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP
Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl, Columbus, Ohio, Sunday
1, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., $40,000.
2, Jason Belmonte, Australia, $20,000.
3, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., $12,000.
4, Kris Prather, Plainfield, Ill., $11,000.
5, Patrick Girard, Canada, $10,000.
Match One – Smallwood def. Girard, 237-206.
Match Two – Smallwood def. Prather, 236-235.
Semifinal Match – Smallwood def. Kent, 225-224.
Championship – Smallwood def. Belmonte, 259-239.
About the PBA
In 2018 the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) celebrates its 60th anniversary. The PBA is an organization of more than 3,000 of the best bowlers from 27 countries who compete in Go Bowling! PBA Tour, PBA International Tour, PBA Regional Tour, PBA Women’s Regional and PBA50 Tour events. The 2018 season also marks the 59th consecutive year of nationally-televised competition, reaching bowling fans around the world who follow PBA activities through the PBA Network which includes Xtra Frame, the PBA’s exclusive online bowling channel, ESPN and CBS Sports Network, and the PBA on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. PBA sponsors include Barbasol, Brunswick, Ebonite International, GEICO,GoBowling.com, HotelPlanner.com, MOTIV, 900 Global, PBA Bowling Challenge Mobile Game, Storm Products and the United States Bowling Congress, among others. For more information, log on to www.pba.com
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