ORANGE’S Jason Belmonte is one of four reigning Professional Bowlers Association major tournament winners who qualified for the stepladder finals of the Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions on Tuesday.
It marked the first time that four reigning major winners have qualified for the finals. As top qualifier, Belmonte, the newly crowned 2012-13 PBA Player of the Year and the winner of the 2013 United States Bowling Congress Masters, is one win away from winning his second major title.
“It was really important to make it to the finals after just getting Player of the Year,” said Belmonte, who averaged 243 for the tournament.
“I wanted to keep the momentum going. You don’t have that many opportunities to be in this spot especially in the majors so you really want to take advantage of these situations.”
After leading four of five qualifying rounds and all three match play rounds, Belmonte finished with an 18-6 match play record and 12,451 49-game pinfall to finish 363 pins ahead of second qualifier, three-time tour winner Dom Barrett of England.
A seven-time PBA Tour winner, Belmonte is trying to win his first Tournament of Champions titles after finishing second in 2013 and third in 2012.
Qualifying third with the help of a 17-6-1 match play record was 2013 US Open winner Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas, and fourth was Dan MacLelland of Canada.
Qualifying for the fifth and final spot for the finals was defending champion Pete Weber with a 15-9 match play record and 11,671 pinfall. Weber won the 2013 Tournament of Champions by defeating Belmonte 224-179 in the title match.
The Tournament of Champions stepladder finals will also feature the return of the revolutionary blue lane conditioning oil that was introduced at the World Series of Bowling last November.
The blue oil provides fans with a visual reference for PBA lane conditioning oil application and the challenges players face.