Orange’s Jason Belmonte will be forced to wait until next month’s PBA World Championship to again have a chance of staking his claim as the GOAT, the greatest-of-all-time, after falling at the final hurdle of the Players’ Championship on Monday morning.
Had he triumphed Belmonte would’ve owned the outright record for career major victories, earning the right to officially be considered the GOAT, but instead he remains tied on 10 with Hall of Famers Pete Weber and Earl Anthony.
It would’ve also been a record third Players’ Championship title for the 35-year-old, but he was denied both by Simonsen, a two-handed bowler 13 years his junior who actually broke a record himself with the victory.
In denying Belmonte’s bid with a 232-212 win in the championship game, the No.2 seed broke Hall of Famer Billy Hardwick’s record to become the youngest in history to claim two major victories.
“To have a second major at this point in my career, I’m speechless,” Simonsen said.
“Jason is the guy everyone is gunning for and as a fellow two-hand player, he’s an inspiration.”
“I threw the ball the way I wanted to. This game has its good breaks and bad breaks and they just didn’t go my way this time.” Belmonte, the four-time PBA Player of the Year, lamented.
Belmonte held a three-pin lead in the fifth frame of the title match when Simonsen left a 4-6-7-9-10 split after he was distracted by a mobile phone and both threw strikes in the sixth through ninth, but the Orange-born star left the door open for his younger counterpart in the 10th.
He left a pocket, 7-10 split on his first shot of the final frame, his second of the championship game after doing the same in the fourth.
Needing just a mark to lock up the win, Simonsen nailed a strike to start a celebration a couple of years in the making after he was beaten by Belmonte in the 2017 edition.
“I think everyone says the breaks even out down the road,” Simonsen told FloBowling.
“Two years ago, I felt like Belmo got the breaks, and this time I was fortunate to be on the other side of it.”
This game has its good breaks and bad breaks and they just didn’t go my way.Jason Belmonte
“I had the feeling that if he didn’t strike at some point, I could take advantage of the opportunity.”
“I’ve had a few of those hits go my way in the 19 times that I’ve won (on the PBA tour). It’s hard to swallow any time you lose, but it’s part of the game,” Belmonte told FloBowling, diplomatically.
The PBA World Championship, the season’s third major, is next month and is one part of the World Series of Bowling. After that the USBC Masters and US Open round out the season’s majors, in late March and October respectively.
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