Rhino page holds on to claim top berth for 50th PBA Tournament of Champions finals


    2015 PBA Tour #5

    Jason Belmonte, Ryan Ciminelli, Sean Rash, Scott Norton complete stepladder field

    2014PBARhinoPage.jpgRhino Page (pictured left) of Orlando, Fla., survived a heated challenge Friday night at Woodland Bowl to hold on to the top qualifying position for Sunday's finals in the 50th anniversary Barbasol Professional Bowlers Association Tournament of Champions by 45 pins over defending champion Jason Belmonte of Australia.

    Page, who is hoping to win the Tournament of Champions title that evaded him in 2009, won 15 of his 24 matches and tied another, averaging 243.9 for 48 games for a 12,172 pinfall total.

    2014PBAJasonBelmonte.jpgBelmonte (right), who hounded Page the entire tournament, closed his Friday morning round with a 300 game to move into second place and stayed there, finishing with 12,127 pins.

    Page, the 2008 PBA Rookie of the Year and a three-time title winner, is trying for his first title since 2009 and hopes to erase the memory of his errant four-count in the 10th frame of the 2009 TOC title match that cost him a 267-263 loss to Patrick Allen.

    "It was a lot more exciting than I hoped it would be," Page said. "I don't think I've ever led from start to finish before, but now it doesn't matter who I bowl, I get a little payback for the 2009 show. I know I'm going to bowl for the title, no matter what the other guys do.

    "That 2009 show doesn't bother me as much as people think," he continued. "It doesn't define my career. It was one bad shot. If people want to call that a choke, then everyone chokes."

    Qualifying No. 1 after undergoing potential career-ending wrist surgery two years ago is what Page thinks about more than that bad shot five years ago.

    "When you're going through surgery, there are some scary moments when you don't know if you'll ever be back," he said. "To preserve through all of that and be bowling in the TOC title match? Tears almost flowed. It's surreal. I just hope it's the start of things to come."

    Belmonte, who won the United States Bowling Congress Masters for a record third consecutive time last Sunday, is again in position to make history.

    The Australian two-handed player is trying for his fifth major title in three years, and he also has a chance to become the first player in PBA history to win back-to-back titles in both the Masters and Tournament of Champions.

    2014PBARyanCiminelli.jpg2014PBASeanRash2.jpgAlso advancing to Sunday's finals are two-time PBA Tour titlist Ryan Ciminelli (left) of Cheektowaga, N.Y.; 2012 TOC winner Sean Rash (right) of Montgomery, Ill., who won that title with a 239-205 victory over Ciminelli, and Scott Norton of Mission Viejo, Calif., who threw the final five strikes in his 48th game to nip Patrick Allen of Wesley Chapel, Fla., by two pins, 224-222, to get the bonus pins and to capture the fifth berth by 19 pins over Bill O'Neill of Langhorne, Pa..

    The five-player stepladder finals will be televised live on ESPN Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. First prize is $50,000 and the second major title of the 2015 season.

    The Tournament of Champions finals Sunday are part of a PBA-ESPN tripleheader weekend. The finals of the PBA Players Championship will be held Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Woodland Bowl for telecast on ESPN on Sunday, Feb. 22, at 1 p.m. ET.

    At 4:30 p.m. Sunday, following the live TOC finals, the Mark Roth/Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship will be contested for telecast on Sunday, March 1, at 1 p.m. ET.


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    50th PBA Tournament of Champions - Final Match Play Standings

    Players with position, hometown, won-lost-tie record and 48-game total including match play bonus pins (30 pins per win, 15 for a tie); top five advance to ESPN stepladder finals Sunday at 1 p.m. ET; places 6-24 show earnings

    201550thTOCLogo.jpg 1, Rhino Page, Orlando, Fla., 15-8-1, 12,172
    2, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 14-9-1, 12,127
    3, Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 12-11-1, 11,944
    4, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 13-11, 11,911
    5, Scott Norton, Mission Viejo, Calif., 15-9, 11,878

    Missed Cut:
    6, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 10-13-1, 11,859, $7,000
    7, Patrick Allen, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 14-10, 11,833, $6,000
    8, Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J., 12-10-2, 11,713, $5,200
    9, Liz Johnson, Cheektowaga, New York, 13-10-1, 11,649, $4,600
    10, Dan MacLelland, Canada, 12-12, 11,639, $4,200
    11, Dom Barrett, England, 12-12, 11,634, $4,000
    12, D.J. Archer, Friendswood, Texas, 14-10, 11,612, $3,800
    13, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 15-8-1, 11,574, $3,600
    14, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 12-12, 11,525, $3,500
    15, Mike Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas, 8-16, 11,450, $3,400
    16, Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich., 12-11-1, 11,405, $3,300
    17, E.J. Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 11-12-1, 11,391, $3,200
    18, Brian Valenta, Lockport, Ill., 9-15, 11,319, $3,100
    19, Anthony Lavery-Spahr, Pasadena, Texas, 12-12, 11,279, $3,000
    20, Anthony LaCaze, Melrose Park, Ill., 12-12, 11,229, $2,900
    21, J.R. Raymond, Bay City, Mich., 8-16, 11,110, $2,800
    22, Eugene McCune, Munster, Ind., 6-18, 11,036, $2,700
    23, Patrick Dombrowski, Parma, Ohio, 9-15, 10,989, $2,600
    24, x-Osku Palermaa, Finland, 6-2, 10,862, $2,500
    25, Mike Fagan, Fort Worth, Texas, 7-9, 9,170, $1,950
    x-Palermaa replaced Fagan, who withdrew due to injury.

    300 Games (20) - Fifth Round: Jason Belmonte, Patrick Allen, Dan MacLelland. Fourth Round: Dom Barrett (2), Chris Barnes, DJ Archer. Third Round: Chris Barnes, Anthony LaCaze, Sean Rash, Stuart Williams, Dennis Horan Jr., Steven Arehart. Second Round: Kyle Troup, Chad Lusche. First Round: Brian Voss, Dom Barrett, Scott Norton, Travis Celmer, Lonnie Waliczek.