Australian defeats Brad Miller at WSOB Chameleon Championship for his third win of 2020
Centreville, Va. – The legend of Jason Belmonte continues to grow.
In winning his second consecutive PBA Chameleon Championship by stopping upset-minded Brad Miller, 232-202, in the title match seen Sunday on FS1, the Australian won his 25th Go Bowling PBA Tour title, now tied for 10th all time with Hall of Famer Brian Voss.
“Twenty-five means a lot, considering 11 years ago was my debut. To have won 10 years ago, it’s surreal to reach a milestone like that,” said Belmonte, now 37-years-old. “I don’t look at it as being ranked 10th all time in wins. Right now, with my drive and motivation this is just a peg along the way, another steppingstone. The stats and rankings are things I’ll reflect on at the end when I am retired.”
Clearly, Belmonte is at the height of his powers and those numbers will not stop adding up any time soon.
The Chameleon win, coming as part of the Storm PBA World Series of Bowling XI, was his third PBA title of 2020, including the US Open and PBA World Championship. The US Open win in Nebraska in February completed a career Super Slam (joining his previous PBA Players Championship, PBA Tournament of Champions, USBC Masters and PBA World Championship). The World Championship victory back in March in Las Vegas, also part of WSOB XI, added to his record 13 major championships.
Belmonte is locked in as the No. 1 seed for the upcoming 2020 PBA Playoffs as the PBA points leader, has the highest average on Tour and advanced to the TV finals in both the 2020 PBA Players Championship and PBA Tournament of Champions.
In other words, a sixth Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year award seems a lock for 2020. Belmonte, who previously won the Player of the Year award in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2019, would join the legendary Earl Anthony with six, which ranks second all-time to Walter Ray Williams Jr.’s seven.
Indeed, Player of the Year was on Belmonte’s mind this week.
“Coming into these WSOB events, if someone was to win three animal patterns and win the Playoffs, it was in back of your mind that a player could get on a roll like that (and become a major factor in the Player of the Year race),” Belmonte said. “So, heading into today’s show and before the final shot against Brad, I told myself, ‘Give it your best shot and get as many points and titles as you can.’ My case for Player of the Year will be very strong to deny.”
The win also added to Belmonte’s lore in World Series of Bowling competition. He is the undisputed king of the event, now with eight WSOB titles including three main event World Championships in the 11 years of the PBA’s international bowling spectacular. He has advanced to a record 20 TV finals at the World Series alone, in his career.
“The biggest thing for me about the World Series is there is a lot of bowling, even though the pattern events are in a shorter format,” Belmonte said. “At the end of the day, you’re playing the World Series to win the World Championship, every single day. I feel like I normally start slow on the Cheetah and progressively get better. I pride myself on my versatility, and you combine that with the motivation to catch people after a slow start. Then, when it’s time for match-play, I’ve become smarter following my own transition, becoming more difficult to beat in that environment. Put it all together and I have success at the World Series.”
In the Chameleon TV finals on the 39-foot pattern, he was part of an all-star cast in the final four along with EJ Tackett, Anthony Simonsen and Brad Miller. Tackett and Simonsen being Belmonte’s closest competitors for the past five years on Tour, and Miller looking for his first win but well-known for his popular YouTube channel “Brad & Kyle (Sherman),” chronicling the life of a pro bowler.
The seeding game came down to the three Goliaths of the foursome, as Tackett, Simonsen and Belmonte each entered the 10th frame with a chance to earn the top seed. When the dust cleared it was Belmonte (225) who emerged on top for the stepladder, with Tackett (223) grabbing the second spot. Simonsen (203), would face Miller (171) in game 1.
Miller escaped the stepladder’s first match with a 203-197 victory when Simonsen left a stone 9 pin in the 10th frame. Miller continued his march up the stepladder of superstars by striking in his fill ball to edge Tackett by one pin, 248-247. Next up was Belmonte. If Miller could continue this run it would be one of the great upsets for a first title in PBA history.
Miller started with an open in the first frame of the title match, but Belmonte let the challenger back in when he whiffed a 10-pin spare in the second frame.
“I’ve bowled on TV so many times, yet still can forget some basic things, like remembering that every single shot is critical,” Belmonte said. “You can’t get up and think this is easy spare and move on. You’ve got to make it.”
But Belmonte reapplied the pressure and did not let up. When the right-handed Miller missed the 3-6-9-10 in the 6th frame, Belmonte took a lead he would not relinquish.
Belmonte was playing the outside part of the lane this time on the tricky pattern. He said the tournament moving to Virginia after the pause of the World Series back in March at South Point Bowling Plaza meant a new strategy to attack the lanes.
“At South Point, with the newer surface the fronts didn’t blow up as quickly, so you could create shape and move left,” Belmonte said. “But because of the hook in the fronts here, and it being tight down-lane, you had to play up the lane fairly straight. I was playing from 12-6 on one lane and 10-7 on the other, firing it up the lane with two different urethane balls.”
Not even a global pandemic can stop the leader of the two-hand revolution in bowling. Belmonte returned to the USA from Australia for the first time since the pause in PBA Tour action, and made the most of it.
“The last thing I said to my wife when I left was that I’ll throw every ball like it’s my last, “ Belmonte said. “I didn’t want to come all the way over here, and know the requirements for quarantining going back home, to be for nothing. From ball one, I felt very sharp and in tune with my game. I’m very happy and grateful to take this win.”
PBA CHAMELEON CHAMPIONSHIP
Storm WSOB XI
1. Jason Belmonte, Australia, $25,000
2. Brad Miller, Lees Summit, Mo., $13,000
3. EJ Tackett, Bluffton, Ind., $7,000
4. Anthony Simonsen, Las Vegas, $6,000
Seeding Round – Belmonte, 225; Tackett 223; Simonsen 203; Miller 171
Match 1 – Miller def. Simonsen, 203-197
Semifinal – Miller def. Tackett, 248-247
Championship – Belmonte def. Miller, 232-202
About the PBA
The Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) is the world’s preeminent organization dedicated to the sport of bowling and its professional competition, with thousands of members and millions of fans throughout the world. The PBA plays host to bowling’s biggest tournaments from the Go Bowling! PBA Tour, PBA Regional Tour, and PBA50 Tour. In 2019, the PBA was acquired by Bowlero Corporation, the world’s largest owner and operator of bowling entertainment centers with more than 300 locations throughout North America. For more information, please visit PBA.com.
Photo courtesy of the PBA