Another Stellar Season for Jakob Butturff Highlights 2017 PBA Regional Awards

by Jerry Schneider January 16, 2018 08:35

CHICAGO - PBA Tour standout Jakob Butturff of Chandler, Ariz., didn’t match his record-breaking 2016 season that included a record nine PBA Regional wins, but he did keep the momentum going with four wins in 2017, and that was enough to successfully defend his PBA West and Northwest Region Player of the Year honors.

Bowling in a combined nine tournaments in the West and Northwest, Butturff also compiled three other top-five finishes which included a second, third and a fifth place while also leading his fellow regional competitors with a 236 average.

Butturff’s accomplishments in 2017 were among the highlights of the PBA Regional Award winners, announced today by Director of the PBA Regional and PBA50 Tours John Weber, recognizing Players of the Year, Rookies of the Year, PBA50 Players of the Year and Pat Patterson Award winners, for contributions to the regional program, in each of its eight regions.

Award winners were selected by the PBA’s regional managers: Russ Mills, East Region; Sam Zurich, South Region; Bobby Jakel, Central Region; Rich Weber, Midwest Region; Pete McCordic, Southwest Region; Gary Mage, West and Northwest Regions, and Junichia Yoshida, Japan Region.

Here’s a summary of 2017 PBA Regional Award winners:

EAST – Matt O’Grady of Rahway, N.J., made the most of his seven regional events to earn Player of the Year with five top-five finishes that included one title and three second-place finishes. Rookie of the Year went to Ryan Galli of Binghamton, N.Y., who had two fifth-place finishes and made match play in four of his six tournament appearances. Ray Edwards dominated the PBA50 Player of the Year race with two wins and four other top-five finishes in seven tournaments. Mike Healy of Yonkers, N.Y., was the Pat Patterson Award winner.

SOUTH – Christian Azcona of San Juan, Puerto Rico,  earned Player of the Year with five top-five finishes in seven tournaments including three wins and fourth and fifth-place finishes. PBA Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr. of Oxford, Fla., earned PBA50 Player of the Year with four wins and two runner-up finishes in six tournaments. Kristian Sieradzki of Seminole, Fla., earned Rookie of the Year, cashing in five events and making two match play appearances in seven tournaments. Crystal Hall of Fayetteville, N.C., earned the Pat Patterson Award.

CENTRAL – It was a busy year for Canadian Graham Fach, who bowled extensively on the PBA Tour in addition to competing in 15 events in the Central Region where he compiled eight top-five finishes including one title, two second and two third-place finishes. Kyle Mayberry of Dayton, Ohio, collected four top-three finishes in 16 tournaments which included one win, a second and two third-place finishes to earn Rookie of the Year. Former PBA Tour player and PBA50 Tour regular Brian Kretzer of Dayton, Ohio, won PBA50 Player of the Year honors in both the Central and Midwest Regions with a combined three titles, one runner-up and one third-place finish. PBA Tour player Dave Wodka of Clarksville, Tenn., was the Pat Patterson Award winner.

MIDWEST – PBA Tour player AJ Johnson of Oswego, Ill., put together a four-title season in the PBA Midwest Region and added a third-place finish in seven tournaments he entered to win Player of the Year.  AJ Chapman of Manchester, Iowa, earned Rookie of the Year with one second-place and one fourth-place finish in four tournaments. Brian Kretzer of  Dayton, Ohio, took home PBA50 Player of the Year in the Midwest as well as the Central Region with a combined three titles and two other top-five finishes. Kevin Kullman of Lockport, Ill., won the Midwest’s Pat Patterson Award.

SOUTHWEST – Another one of PBA’s Tour Canadian stars, Francois Lavoie, was the Southwest Player of the Year Award winner with three titles and three runner-up finishes in 10 tournaments. Kyle Sherman of O’Fallon, Ill., earned Rookie of the Year with two top-four finishes that included a title and a fourth-place finish. Mike Austin of Conroe, Texas earned the Pat Patterson Award. The Southwest did not award a PBA50 Player of the Year award.

WEST – Kyle King of Glendale, Ariz., earned Rookie of the Year with the help of one win and one third-place finish while also cashing in 10 tournaments. PBA Tour and PBA50 Tour standout Michael Haugen Jr. of Phoenix earned PBA50 Player of the Year with one win and two runner-up finishes. PBA Tour veteran Josh Blanchard of Mesa, Ariz. was the Pat Patterson Award winner for the West.

NORTHWEST – Rookie of the Year honors went to San Francisco’s Michael Tang who had a best finish of fourth. PBA Tour and PBA50 Tour veteran Hugh Miller of Mercer Island, Wash., earned PBA50 Player of the Year honors with one win and two second-place finishes in four events. Longtime PBA50 Tour player Bob Harvey of Boise won the Pat Patterson Award for contributions to PBA’s regional program.

JAPAN – The Japan Region’s Pat Patterson Award winner was Ebonite International. Player and Rookie of the Year will be announced at a later date.

The PBA’s regional program, founded in 1970, provides bowlers with a proving ground to develop their skills in high-level competition against some of the sport’s established stars. In all, approximately 150 regional events were conducted in 2017.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it.

PBA Tournament of Champions Kicks Off 2018 Go Bowling! PBA Tour Season in U.S. Feb. 5-11

by Jerry Schneider January 12, 2018 08:07

FAIRLAWN, Ohio  - As host of the Professional Bowlers Association Tournament of Champions from 1966 to 1994, AMF Riviera Lanes in Fairlawn, Ohio has been the scene of some of the most memorable moments in PBA history.

That tradition will resume when AMF Riviera Lanes hosts the return of the PBA’s signature tournament Feb. 5-11 after a 24-year absence. The first major championship of the 2018 Go Bowling! PBA Tour 60th Anniversary season will culminate with a live ESPN finals telecast Sunday, Feb. 11 at 1 p.m. EST.

Highlighting the list of PBA champions competing for the title will be a cast of former TOC winners including defending champion EJ Tackett, Jesper Svensson (2016), Jason Belmonte (2014, 2015); PBA Hall of Famers Pete Weber (1989, 2013), Norm Duke (1994), Johnny Petraglia (1971), Sean Rash (2012), Chris Barnes (2006) and Tommy Jones (2007).

With nine PBA major wins to his credit, the spotlight will be focused on Belmonte as the 34-year-old two-handed player from Australia has already established himself as one of PBA’s all-time great players. During a PBA career that spans only 10 years, Belmonte is one major title away from tying Weber and Hall of Famer Earl Anthony for the most all-time major wins with 10.

When the TOC was last held at AMF Riviera Lanes in 1994, Duke won the event with a 217-184 victory over Eric Forkel. At that time, Belmonte was 11 years old and the PBA had never seen a two-handed player. Even when AMF Riviera Lanes last hosted a PBA Tour event, the 2005 Pepsi Championship (a standard Tour event won by Chris Collins), Belmonte was two years away from making his PBA debut.

As the PBA’s signature tournament, a player must have won a PBA title to be eligible to enter, and this time, Belmonte won’t be the only two-handed player in the field. Of the 80 players who will compete this year, 70 will be PBA Tour winners – including two-handers Svensson (who became the youngest TOC winner ever when he won the 2016 title at age 21), Osku Palermaa of Finland and Texan Anthony Simonsen. An additional 10 players who are not national tour winners but own titles in PBA’s other divisions (PBA50, regional, PBA50 regional), will have the opportunity to qualify for the field by competing in an eight-game TOC pre-tournament qualifier on Feb. 5.

Competition begins with two six-game qualifying rounds on Feb. 7 at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. The entire field will then return on Feb. 8 for a final six-game qualifying round at 11 a.m. After 18 qualifying games, the top 24 players will advance to the traditional TOC round-robin match play finals, bowling eight head-to-head-matches at 6 p.m. on Feb. 8, and on Feb. 9 at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Total pinfall for 42 games, including match play bonus pins, will determine the top five players for Sunday’s stepladder finals.

PBA’s online bowling channel Xtra Frame will provide full coverage of all preliminary rounds. Xtra Frame also will provide live coverage of a special best-of-three-game “King of Bowling” match between the reigning KOB, Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas, and a challenger who will be selected in fan voting. For subscription and schedule information visit

1966 PBA TOC introductions_Riviera Lanes_Fairlawn OHThe PBA Tournament of Champions originated in Indianapolis in 1962, but was discontinued until 1965 when it returned as the Firestone Tournament of Champions at Firestone Bowlorama in Akron, in the first year of PBA’s long-standing “Pro Bowlers Tour” series on ABC-TV. The event moved to Riviera Lanes in 1966 and continued there through 1994.

The 2018 Tournament of Champions will be the first of three consecutive PBA Tour events that are part of PBA’s “Big February” schedule, all featuring live ESPN finals. Following the TOC will be the Go Bowling! PBA 60th Anniversary Classic Feb. 13-18 from historic Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis and the season’s second major, the Barbasol PBA Players Championship from Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl in Columbus, Ohio, Feb. 19-25.

Spectator passes for the TOC pre-tournament qualifier on Feb. 5 and the official practice session on Feb. 6 are $10. Spectator passes for qualifying and match play rounds Feb. 7-9 range from $15-$20 with all-day passes available for $20 and $30. Tickets for the stepladder finals range from $30-$50, if purchased in advance online at, and $50-$70 if purchased at the door. Tickets for all preliminary rounds will be available at the door.

Grassroots league bowlers who would like to participate in the TOC pro-am will have three opportunities on Saturday, Feb. 10. Squads will bowl at noon, 3 and 6 p.m. For pro-am entry information, contact AMF Riviera Lanes at 330-836-7985.


AMF Riviera Lanes, Fairlawn, Ohio, Feb. 5-11 (all times Eastern)

Monday, February 5

3 p.m. - Pre-Tournament Qualifier (8 games)

Tuesday, February 6

2 p.m. - Practice Session

6:30 p.m. – Xtra Frame King of Bowling match (Wes Malott vs. challenger to be decided, best of three games)

Wednesday, February 7

11 a.m. - Qualifying Round 1 (6 games)

  6 p.m. - Qualifying Round 2 (6 games)

Thursday, February 8 

11 a.m. - Qualifying Round 3 (6 games)

  6 p.m. - Match Play Round 1 (8 games)

Friday, February 9

11 a.m. - Match Play Round 2 (8 games)

  6 p.m. - Match Play Round 3 (8 games)

Saturday, February 10

Noon, 3 p.m., 6 p.m. – Pro-am squads

Sunday, February 11

1 p.m. - ESPN Stepladder Finals

Advance tickets for stepladder finals are available by visiting Contact AMF Riviera Lanes at (330) 836-7985 for additional ticket and pro-am entry information or visit

If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it.

Belmonte, Zavjalova Win World Bowling Tour Finals

by Jerry Schneider January 7, 2018 13:19

RENO, Nev. -- Top World Bowling Tour Finals qualifiers Jason Belmonte of Australia and Latvia’s Diana Zavjalova capped a 2017 PBA/WBT season with wins in the World Bowling Tour Men’s and Women’s Finals televised Sunday on ESPN from the National Bowling Stadium.

The Finals, which were part of GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling IX presented by Eldorado Resort Reno Properties and the 2017-18 Go Bowling! PBA Tour season, used the experimental “Current Frame” WBT scoring system which awards 30 points for a strike, 10 plus pinfall on first ball of the frame for a spare, and the total pinfall for the frame for an open. There are no bonus or “fill” shots in the 10th frame and the maximum score is still 300.

The World Bowling Tour Finals featured the top three players in WBT points in men’s and women’s divisions during the 2017 season with each division competing in a separate stepladder final.

Heading into the ninth frame of the drama-filled men’s championship match with a 10-pin lead, No. 3 qualifier and last year’s third-place finisher Marshall Kent of Yakima, Wash., failed to convert a 10 pin spare leaving the door open for a Belmonte win in the 10th.

Belmonte.Jason_WS_2017PBAWorldChampionship(5)In the 10th Belmonte closed with a 267 game forcing Kent to strike to tie the match. Kent came through with a pressure-filled solid pocket hit to also close with 267 forcing a sudden-death roll-off. Belmonte won the roll-off with a strike in the first frame to Kent’s eight-count after he left the 2-8.

“Yeah, I was worried,” said Belmonte referring to Kent’s fast start with the first five strikes in a row. “Fortunately, after the spare in the first frame I was able to put five strikes together to get back in the match and then it was like anything could happen at that point.”

For Belmonte, it was his second consecutive WSOB IX win after his recent milestone PBA World Championship win on ESPN for a record third major win of the season and ninth of his career.

“It’s a unique feeling the pressure you feel to get a strike when it comes down to one shot after you’ve travelled the world to get to this point,” Belmonte added. “The pressure you feel to get a strike was like the inside of your body wanting to be on the outside.”

In the semi-final match, Kent advanced to the championship match with a 231-224 win over No. 2 qualifier Jesper Svensson of Sweden, who finished second to Belmonte in the World Championship.

In another tightly contested title match, Zavjalova beat two-time defending champion Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, N.Y., 235-232, to win the women’s final.

Zavjalova.Diana_2017WSOBWBTwomen(24)With the match even in the fifth frame, McEwan opened in the sixth after missing a 1-2-4-10 washout giving Zavjalova a 25-pin lead. However, McEwan was able to come back and overtake Zavjalova with an eight-pin lead after striking in the seventh, eighth and ninth frames while Zavjalova could only manage spares in those frames.

With the match coming down to the 10th, Zavjalova finished with a strike to post her 235. Needing a strike to win, McEwan left a solid 10 pin handing the win to Zavjalova.

“I didn’t feel comfortable in the middle of the game, but that’s going to happen now and then,” said Zavjalova, who was competing in her first WBT final. “I just had to deal with what was in front of me and hope it was good enough to win.

“When Danielle put those three strikes together at the end of the game I thought I had lost the match,” she added. “After I struck in the 10th it was out of my hands at that point—whatever happens, happens. It was just my day today.”

In the semifinal, McEwan defeated international standout Shalin Zulkifli of Malaysia 244-231 to advance to the title match.


Presented by PBA

National Bowling Stadium, Reno, Nev.

(aired Jan. 7 on ESPN)

Women’s Finals

1, Diana Zavjalova, Latvia, $12,500.

2, Danielle McEwan, Stony Point, N.Y., $7,500.

3, Shalin Zulkifli, Malaysia, $5,000.

First match: McEwan def. Zulkifli, 244-231; Championship match: Zavjalova def. McEwan, 235-232.

Men’s Finals

1, Jason Belmonte, Australia, $12,500.

2, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., $7,500.

3, Jesper Svensson, Sweden, $5,000.

First match: Marshall def. Svensson, 231-224; Championship match: Belmonte tied Kent, 267-267. Belmonte won one-ball roll-off, 10-8.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it.

Sunday On ESPN: GEICO WSOB IX Concludes with World Bowling Tour Finals at 1 p.m. ET

by Jerry Schneider January 3, 2018 07:38

RENO, Nev.  – ESPN’s coverage of the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling IX presented by Eldorado Resorts Reno Properties concludes with the seventh World Bowling Tour Men’s and Women’s Finals presented by PBA Sunday at 1 p.m. EST from the National Bowling Stadium.

After competing in selected PBA-WBT international events in 2017, the top three points earners in men’s and women’s divisions earned berths in separate stepladder finals which are part of the 2018 Go Bowling! PBA ESPN schedule.

Competing in the women’s semifinal match will be No. 3 qualifier Shalin Zulkifli, an international star from Malaysia, against two-time defending WBT Finals champion Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, N.Y., the No. 2 qualifier. The winner will take on top qualifier Diana Zavjalova of Latvia for the championship and a $12,000 first prize.

In the men’s semifinal, No. 3 qualifier Marshall Kent of Yakima, Wash., will try to improve upon his third-place finish in 2017, meeting PBA World Championship runner-up Jesper Svensson of Sweden, in the semifinal match with the winner taking on top qualifier and PBA World Championship winner Jason Belmonte of Australia. The men’s winner will also receive $12,000.

Belmonte, the No. 1 ranked bowler in the world, will be trying for his first World Bowling Tour Finals victory after winning the PBA World Championship – his record third major title of the 2017 season – earlier in WSOB IX.

The WBT Finals will once again feature World Bowling’s  “Current Frame” scoring system, where players earn 30 pins a frame for each strike, 10 pins plus the total from their first shot of that frame for a spare, or actual total pinfall for the frame for an open frame. The alternative scoring format consists of 10 frames, the same as in a traditional game, but there are no additional shots in the 10th frame if a player strikes or spares. The maximum score is still 300 if a player strikes in all 10 frames.

The World Bowling Tour Finals was established in 2011 when the PBA and World Bowling joined forces to conduct several PBA/WBT international events during the season. The Finals, which does not count for an official PBA title, was created to showcase the top men and women performers who competed in professional events around the globe. 

If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it.

Sunday on ESPN: GEICO PBA WSOB IX Continues with PBA Cheetah and Pepsi Scorpion Championship Finals

by Jerry Schneider December 20, 2017 07:48

RENO, Nev.  –  ESPN coverage of the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling IX, presented by Eldorado Resorts Reno Properties, continues Sunday with the PBA Cheetah Championship presented by PBA Challenge Mobile Game and Pepsi Scorpion Championship presented by back-to-back beginning at 1 p.m. EST.

In the third animal pattern tournament of the 2017-18 Go Bowling! PBA Tour schedule at the National Bowling Stadium, two-handers Jesper Svensson of Sweden and Jason Belmonte of Australia won their Round of 8 matches to headline an all-international field advancing to the Cheetah Championship finals.

Svensson, a six-time Tour winner, qualified for his second WSOB IX telecast by sweeping PBA Hall of Famer Norm Duke of Clermont, Fla., 2-0 (259-214, 268-201), while Belmonte, a 15-time Tour winner, beat Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, N.Y., 2-1, in his best-of-three match to also make his second WSOB IX telecast. After losing the first game 234-206, Belmonte came back to win the next two, 259-189 and 300-214.

Belmonte will be joined in the finals by fellow Australian Sam Cooley who beat PBA Hall of Famer Parker Bohn III of Jackson, N.J., 2-0 (243-212, 279-194). Cooley, who will make his first WSOB final, has a Tour-best third-place finish in the 2016 Barbasol PBA Players Championship.

Two-time PBA Tour winner Thomas Larsen of Denmark rounds out the finals field after sweeping South Africa’s Francois Louw, 2-0 (232-189, 247-232), in their best-of-three match.

To view Cheetah and Scorpion Championship detailed stats click on

Belmonte also will compete in the Scorpion Championship finals after eliminating rookie Raymond Lussier of Canada, 2-0 (235-189, 276-237) in the Round of 8. With his appearance in the Scorpion finals, the three-time PBA Player of the Year will be making a record 18th career WSOB telecast in a field that also includes defending PBA Player of the Year EJ Tackett of Huntington, Ind. Tackett will make his only WSOB IX finals appearance after beating Arturo Quintero of Mexico 2-1 (220-157, 188-247, 205-176). Tackett, an eight-time Tour winner will be trying for his fourth win of the 2017 season.

Completing the final animal pattern championship of WSOB IX will be Brandon Novak of Chillicothe, Ohio, making his second consecutive WSOB Scorpion Championship finals appearance by beating Matt McNiel of Minneapolis, Minn., 2-1 (199-205, 279-237, 223-196). In 2016 Novak finished fourth in the Scorpion Championship. The fourth finalist is Shawn Maldonado of Houston who swept England’s Dom Barrett, 2-0 (234-232, 225-206), in their Round of 8 match. Novak and Maldonado are both trying for their first PBA Tour title.

WSOB IX coverage on ESPN continues with the PBA World Championship – the season’s final major championship – on Sunday, Dec. 31 at 1 p.m. EST and concludes with World Bowling Tour Men’s and Women’s Finals presented by PBA on Sunday, Jan. 7, also at 1 p.m.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it.