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Four champions crowned in PBA WSOB IX “Animal Pattern” Championships

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Spoiler alert: These scores may not have been broadcast on television yet.

The champions in the PBA World Series of Bowling IX “animal pattern” Championships were determined on Saturday, Dec. 18, in four consecutive four-player shoot-out finals at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev.

The champions of the Chameleon, Shark, Cheetah and Scorpion Championships, which were conducted on lane conditioning patterns that bear those animal names, involved a simultaneous opening game with all four finalists bowling one game, and the top two advancing to the title match.

The crown jewel of the GEICO PBA World of Series IX, presented by Eldorado Reno Resorts Properties, the PBA World Championship, will be taped on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 3 p.m. EST/noon PST (live streamed on ESPN3, taped for telecast on ESPN on Dec. 31 at 1 p.m. EST).

Sweden’s Jesper Svensson, who is the top qualifier this year, will be joined by Jason Belmonte of Australia, Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, N.Y., Kyle Troup of Taylorsville, N.C., and Matt Sanders of Evansville, Ind., in the stepladder finals.

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2017 PBA Tour Schedule & Champions

2017 PBA Chameleon Championship Finals

ESPN delayed telecast airs on Sunday, Dec. 17 at noon ET.

Championship Round:
1. Liz Johnson, Palatine, Ill., 477 (2 games), $20,000
2. Anthony Pepe, Elmhurst, N.Y., 461 (2 games), $10,000
3. Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 248 (1 game), $5,000
4. Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 236 (1 game), $4,000

Playoff Results:
Shootout Round: Johnson 257, Pepe 255, Malott 248, Smallwood 236
Malott and Smallwood eliminated.
Championship: Johnson def. Pepe, 220-206.

Three-time reigning Professional Women’s Bowling Association Player of the Year Liz Johnson (right) of Palatine, Illinois, has made a career out of producing historic moments on the lanes, and now she’s added arguably the greatest accomplishment of her historic career.

Johnson defeated Anthony Pepe of Elmhurst, New York, 220-206, to win the Professional Bowlers Association Chameleon Championship on Saturday at the National Bowling Stadium to become the second woman to win a PBA Tour title.

She joins Kelly Kulick of Union, New Jersey, who won the 2010 PBA Tournament of Champions, as the only women to capture victories on the PBA Tour. The PBA first allowed women to compete in 2004 after the PWBA abruptly went on hiatus in 2003.

“It feels absolutely amazing,” said Johnson, who also finished 14th in the PBA World Championship this week in Reno. “It’s officially one of the best bowling days of my life and probably the icing on the cake as far as my career goes. I’ve been very lucky to have the career that I’ve had. I never thought having the chance to win a PBA title would come when it did. It’s been an awesome journey.”

Johnson started the title match of the Chameleon Championship with three consecutive strikes, before a 10 pin stopped the run in the fourth frame, but she’d built a sizeable lead as Pepe missed a 7 pin in the second frame.

Pepe quickly got back on track and struck in frames four, five and six to stay in the match. Johnson picked up where she left off by stringing three more strikes.

Stepping up first in the 10th frame, Pepe had the opportunity to put pressure on Johnson, but a 4-7 leave on his first attempt handed Johnson the win and $20,000 top prize.

Johnson and Pepe advanced to the title match by outdistancing PBA Tour champions Tom Smallwood of Saginaw, Michigan, and Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas, in the opening four-player shootout round. All four players competed simultaneously, and the two highest scores advanced to the championship.

The shootout was exactly as described with every player having an opportunity to advance through the final frames. Pepe was the first player to finish and solidified his spot in the championship match with a strike on the first shot in the 10th frame to finish with 255.

Johnson, a United States Bowling Congress Hall of Famer, needed a double to lock out Malott and Smallwood, who finished with 248 and 236, respectively. With the help of a late-falling 10 pin on her second offering, she finished with all three strikes in the 10th for 257.

“My legs were shaking and felt really light at that point,” Johnson said. “I was trying to focus on staying down and coming through the shot, but the nerves were going. I was just trying to focus on making the shots I needed, and to punch out at that moment was pretty awesome.”

This year’s Chameleon Championship was Johnson’s third career PBA TV appearance and fourth championship-round appearance overall.

She made history by becoming the first woman to make a televised appearance on the PBA Tour at the 2005 PBA Banquet Open, where she was the runner-up to Tommy Jones, 219-192.

Johnson also owns a pair of fourth-place finishes at the 2014 PBA Cheetah Championship and 2015 DHC Japan Invitational (championship round streamed on Xtra Frame).

With the victory, Johnson added another layer to her immeasurable legacy that continues to grow. Her accomplishments in 2017 now include three PWBA titles (two majors), including her sixth U.S. Women’s Open and the Go Bowling PWBA Players Championship, a third consecutive PWBA Player of the Year award and the 2017 PBA Chameleon Championship.

It’s a legacy that Johnson is not only proud of, but one which she hopes inspires other young ladies not only within bowling, but all sports.

“I’m not good at giving myself those perks, but this ranks up there,” Johnson said. “There are so many great bowlers that I’ve always looked up to and are part of the reason why I’m here today.

“Hopefully, I can give back in that way to the girls who are coming up in the sport. It’s a pretty amazing and very surreal day. I’m very proud of myself and what I’ve been able to accomplish over the years. These two weeks have been exhausting but couldn’t have ended on a better note.”

2017 PBA Shark Championship Finals

ESPN delayed telecast airs on Sunday, Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. ET.

Championship Round:
1. Richie Teece, England, 402 (2 games), $20,000
2. Charlie Brown Jr., 403 (2 games), Grandville, Mich., $10,000
3. Tom Daugherty, Riverview, Fla., 197 (1 game), $5,000
4. Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 193 (1 game), $4,000

Playoff Results:
Shootout Round: Brown 227, Teece 209, Daugherty 197, Kent 193
Daugherty and Kent eliminated.
Championship: Teece def. Brown, 193-176.

Making his first PBA Tour telecast in his fourth World Series of Bowling, England’s Richie Teece (right) defeated Charlie Brown Jr., a 36-year-old rookie bowling in his first PBA Tour event, 193-176, to become the third bowler from England to win a PBA title in the PBA Shark Championship.

Teece, a four-time European Bowling Tour titlist and the Tour’s 2016 point ranking leader, joins Stuart Williams, who won the 2011 PBA Viper Open for his lone PBA title and five-time PBA champion Dom Barrett, who won his first title in the 2011 PBA Scorpion Open.

2017 PBA Cheetah Championship Finals

ESPN delayed telecast airs on Sunday, Dec. 24 at 1 p.m. ET.

Championship Round:
1. Jesper Svensson, Sweden, 505 (2 games), $20,000
2. Thomas Larsen, Denmark, 450 (2 games), $10,000
3. Sam Cooley, Australia, 236 (1 game), $5,000
4. Jason Belmonte, Australia, 222 (1 game), $4,000

Playoff Results:
Shootout Round: Svensson 259, Larsen 256, Cooley 236, Belmonte 222
Cooley and Belmonte eliminated.
Championship: Svensson def. Larsen, 246-194.

At the age of 22, two-handed lefthander Jesper Svensson (right) of Sweden won his seventh career PBA title and the second this season by defeating two-time PBA champion Thomas Larsen of Denmark, 246-194, in an all-international Cheetah finals.

Svensson, who won the 2016 PBA Tournament of Champions for his lone PBA “major” title, captured his fourth title on U.S. soil, while Larsen, who owns two PBA “international” titles was looking to win his first title on the PBA National Tour.

Svensson and Larsen eliminated Aussies Sam Cooley and Jason Belmonte in the semi-final round.

2017 PBA Scorpion Championship Finals

ESPN delayed telecast airs on Sunday, Dec. 24, at 2 p.m. ET.

Championship Round:
1. EJ Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 503 (2 games), $20,000
2. Jason Belmonte, Australia, 476 (2 games), $10,000
3. Brandon Novak, Chillicothe, Ohio, 242 (1 game), $5,000
4. Shawn Maldonado, Houston, 225 (1 game), $4,000

Playoff Results:
Shootout Round: Belmonte 269, Tackett 258, Novak 242, Maldonado 225
Novak and Maldonado eliminated.
Championship: Tackett def. Belmonte, 245-207.

In a championship match between the only three-time winners on the 2017 PBA / World Bowling Tour, defending PBA Player of the Year EJ Tackett (right) of Huntington, Ind., defeated three-time PBA Player of the Year (2013-’15) Jason Belmonte of Australia, 245-207.

It was the ninth career title and the seventh standard title for 25-year-old Tackett, who also owns two “majors”, the 2016 PBA World Championship and the 2017 Tournament of Champions.

The 34-year-old two-handed bowler from Australia will have another chance to win his 16th career title Sunday, Nov. 18, as he qualified second for the stepladder finals of the PBA World Championship.

It would be Belmonte’s ninth career PBA “major” title and the third this season winning the Barbasol PBA Players Championship and 2017 United States Bowling Congress Masters earlier this year.

Author: Herbert Bickel
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