Australia's Jason Belmonte wins Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions


    2014 PBA Tour #1

    Strike on final ball clinches one-pin victory over Texan Wes Malott

    2014PBA01JasonBelmonte.jpgAustralia's Jason Belmonte (pictured with the trophy), with a strike on his final ball, defeated Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas, to win the Barbasol Professional Bowlers Association Tournament of Champions by a single pin Sunday at Thunderbowl Lanes.

    Belmonte, a 30-year-old two-handed player, defeated Malott, 219-218, after earning the top berth in the stepladder finals by 363 pins over England's Dom Barrett, but he escaped with his one-pin victory when Malott left an 8-pin on his first shot in the 10th frame.

    2014PBA01JasonBelmonte2.jpg2014PBA01JasonBelmonte3.jpgBelmonte collected his eighth career victory and second PBA major title just a week after being named 2012-13 PBA Player of the Year. He also earned $40,000 and a celebratory Barbasol shaving cream pie-in-the-fame from close friend and fellow competitor Bill O'Neill (right).

    "I got extremely lucky," Belmonte said. "When it really counted, I didn't throw a good shot and gave Wes a chance. I was pretty sure he was going to win. I couldn't believe it when I looked up and saw the 8 pin standing."

    The victory avenged Belmonte's 214-156 loss to Malott in the 2013 U.S. Open title match, another tournament Belmonte had dominated until the final game.

    "Other than the U.S. Open, this was one of my best start-to-finish performances ever," Belmonte said. "I'm extremely proud to put my name on this trophy.

    "To win a major championship and player of the year in the same week? That's pretty tough to beat," he grinned.

    2014PBA01WesMalott.jpg2014PBA01DominicBarrett.jpgMalott (left) advanced to the title match with a 205-202 victory over Barrett, the 2013 PBA World Champion, in a contest where strikes were hard to come by late in the game. Barrett (right) failed to convert the 2-8-10 split in the seventh frame, giving Malott the edge.

    But Malott was unable to take advantage, leaving four consecutive 10 pins to keep Barrett in the match. Needing a strike on his first shot in the 10th frame to win, Barrett also left a 10 pin.

    In the second match, Dan MacLelland made a fatal mistake when he left the 4-6-7-10 split in the fourth frame and failed to convert. Malott struck on eight of his final nine shots to race away with a 248-199 win to end MacLelland's hopes of becoming the first Canadian to win a PBA Tour title.

    2014PBA01DanMacLelland.jpg2014PBA01PeteWeber.jpgIn the opening match, MacLelland (left), a fifth-year PBA player making his seventh career television appearance, eliminated defending Tournament of Champions winner Pete Weber (right) of St. Ann, Mo., 259-211.

    Weber, a 37-time PBA champion who was making his 133rd television appearance, made two uncharacteristic mistakes – failing to convert the 3-10 split in the first frame and missing the 3-6-10 in the fifth – and MacLelland answered with a string of eight strikes to end the 51-year-old Weber's bid for a record 11th PBA major title.

    PBA coverage continues on ESPN next Sunday at 4 p.m. ET with the PBA Super Clash featuring a showdown match between 2011-12 PBA Player of the Year Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., vs. newly-named 2012-13 PBA Player of the Year Jason Belmonte of Australia followed by a CP3 PBA Remix at 5:30 p.m.

    Coverage of the 2014 PBA League season begins on ESPN on Sunday, Feb. 9, at 3 p.m. ET.


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    Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions

    Thunderbowl Lanes in Allen Park, Mich., United States (January 18-26, 2014)

    Championship Round:
    1. Jason Belmonte, Australia, 219 (1 game), $40,000
    2. Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 671 (3 games), $20,000
    3. Dom Barrett, England, 202 (1 game), $14,000
    4. Dan MacLelland, Canada, 458 (2 games), $12,000
    5. Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 211 (1 game), $10,000

    Playoff Results:
    Match One: No. 4 MacLelland def. No. 5 Weber, 259-211
    Match Two: No. 3 Malott def. MacLelland, 248-199
    Semifinal Match: Malott def. No. 2 Barrett, 205-202
    Championship: No. 1 Belmonte def. Malott, 219-218.