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Ronnie Russell is top qualifier for PBA Tournament of Champions

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Four-time PBA Tour winner Ronnie Russell of Marion, Ind., averaged 231 to earn top qualifier honors in the PBA Tournament of Champions Thursday and leading 24 players into this evening’s first eight-game match play round at AMF Riviera Lanes in Fairlawn, Ohio.

Russell (pictured left and above) retained his second round lead with a 1,376 six-game pinfall total in the third round finishing qualifying with a 4,166 overall pinfall total for 18 games. He holds a 75-pin lead over Matt O’Grady (right) of Rahway, N.J., in second who posted a 4,091 pinfall total.

“I’ve really been relying on my equipment to this point,” said the 38-year-old Russell. “I’ve got a good rotation of two or three balls that I’m using and I’m making the right decisions at the right time for the most part.

“Heading into match play the plan is the old cliché, just take it one frame and one game at a time.”

After finishing qualifying in third after the second round, two-time TOC winner and four-time PBA Player of the Year Jason Belmonte (left) struggled in the third round finishing with a 237 game to narrowly make the 24th and final match play spot by seven pins.

Belmonte, who is trying for his 10th PBA major title to tie PBA Hall of Famers Pete Weber and Earl Anthony for most major wins, finished qualifying with a 3,920 pinfall. The two-hander got off to a bad start with games of 186, 187, 171 in the third round before finishing with games of 228, 188 and 237.

“I’m a little down on my energy because the jetlag seems to have affected me more than usual this trip,” said the Australian. “Frankly I’m kind of exhausted right now. I’m hoping I can get the energy level back for tonight’s (match play) round.

“Fortunately, there are a lot of games left and anything can happen in match play especially with the bonus pins,” the 2014 and 2015 TOC winner added. “In a long format event like this there’s a long way to go so there’s a lot of opportunity to move up the standings.”

Thursday night’s first match play round consists of eight head-to-head single-game matches with 30 bonus points awarded for a match win.

Match play for the first major of the 2018 Go Bowling! PBA Tour season continues Friday with rounds at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET. After Friday’s match play the top five players will be determined for Sunday’s live stepladder finals on ESPN at 1 p.m. ET.

Fans can catch match play rounds live on PBA’s online bowling channel Xtra Frame. For subscription and schedule information click here.

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53rd PBA Tournament of Champions 2018 – Third Round Standings

Players with position, hometown and 18-game total. Top 24 advance to Thursday evening’s first match play round.

1, Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind., 4,166
2, Matt O’Grady, Rahway, N.J., 4,091
3, Kristopher Prather, Plainfield, Ill., 4,081
4, Anthony Simonsen, Austin, Texas, 4,065
5, Kyle Troup, Taylorsville, N.C., 4,060
6, Bill O’Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 4,054
7, Chris Warren, Grants Pass, Ore., 4,053
8, Andrew Anderson, Holly, Mich., 4,049
9, (tie) BJ Moore III, Greensburg, Pa., and
Jesper Svensson, Sweden, 4,000
11, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 3,984
12, EJ Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 3,967
13, Shawn Maldonado, Houston, Texas, 3,965
14, Mitch Beasley, Clarksville, Tenn., 3,964
15, Tom Daugherty, Riverview, Fla., 3,963
16, Matthew Sanders, Evansville, Ind., 3,948
17, Jakob Butturff, Tempe, Ariz., 3,947
18, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 3,943
19, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 3,939
20, Connor Pickford, Charlotte, N.C., 3,930
21, Kyle Sherman, O’Fallon, Mo., 3,929
22, Kurt Pilon, Warren, Mich., 3,927
23, DJ Archer, Friendswood, Texas, 3,925
24, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 3,920

Missed Cut:
25, Francois Lavoie, Canada, 3,913, $3,000
26, Dick Allen, Columbia, S.C., 3,906
27, Yannaphon Larpapharat, Thailand, 3,899
28, Jake Peters, Henderson, Nev., 3,897
29, Brandon Novak, Chillicothe, Ohio, 3,887
30, Ryan Ciminelli, Clarence, N.Y., 3,883
31, Jason Sterner, Rockledge, Fla., 3,882
32, Dom Barrett, England, 3,881
33, Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y., 3,880
34, Jon Van Hees, Charlestown, R.I., 3,878
35, Josh Blanchard, Mesa, Ariz., 3,871
36, Greg Ostrander, Freehold, N.J., 3,868
37, Rhino Page, Orlando, 3,848
38, Thomas Larsen, Denmark, 3,846
39, AJ Johnson, Oswego, Ill., 3,845
40, Cristian Azcona, Puerto Rico, 3,835
41, Osku Palermaa, Finland, 3,829
42, Stuart Williams, England, 3,822
43, Andres Gomez, Colombia, 3,820
44, (tie) Chris Arcaro, Carolina Beach, N.C., and
Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 3,817
46, Anthony Lavery-Spahr, Pasadena, Texas, 3,816
47, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Oxford, Fla., 3,811
48, Patrick Dombrowski, Parma, Ohio, 3,810
49, Darren Tang, San Francisco, 3,808
50, Chris Via, Springfield, Ohio, 3,768
51, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, 3,758
52, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 3,744
53, Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y., 3,737
54, Richie Teece, England, 3,736
55, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 3,731
56, Anthony Pepe, Elmhurst, N.Y., 3,714
57, Gary Faulkner Jr., Memphis, Tenn., 3,713
58, Aaron Lorincz, Center Line, Mich., 3,707
59, Joe Bailey, Wooster, Ohio, 3,705
60, Graham Fach, Canada, 3,692
61, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 3,691
62, Brad Miller, Maryland Heights, Mo., 3,687
63, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 3,677
64, Amleto Monacelli, Venezuela, 3,666
65, Tim Foy Jr., Seaford, Del., 3,665
66, Sean Lavery-Spahr, Pasadena, Texas, 3,660
67, Kyle Mayberry, Mt. Vernon, Ohio, 3,656
68, Tom Hess, Urbandale, Iowa, 3,645
69, Cameron Weier, Tacoma, Wash., 3,618
70, Kyle Bigelow, Troy, Ohio, 3,607
71, Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J., 3,575
72, Brian Robinson, Morgantown, W.Va., 3,570
73, Anthony LaCaze, Melrose Park, Ill., 3,567
74, Andrew Klingler, Grand Rapids, Mich., 3,549
75, Liz Johnson, Palatine, Ill., 3,531
76, (tie) Michael Clark Jr., Cleveland, Ohio, and
Scott Newell, Deland, Fla., 3,515
78, Ed Carter, Austintown, Ohio, 3,329
79, John Petraglia, Jackson, N.J., 3,262
80, JT Jackson, Sherman Oaks, Calif., 3,096

300 games (1) – Shawn Maldonado.

Herbert Bickel

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