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Jesper Svensson one win away from second PBA Tournament of Champions title


Two-hander Jesper Svensson of Sweden will bowl for his second PBA Tournament of Champions title and eighth career tour title as the top qualifier for the stepladder finals of the 53rd edition of PBA’s signature championship Sunday at AMF Riviera Lanes in Fairlawn, Ohio.

The finals for the 2018 Go Bowling! PBA Tour season’s first major will air Sunday at 1 p.m. ET live on ESPN.

Pictured above from right: Jesper Svensson, Andrew Anderson, Jason Belmonte, BJ Moore and Matt O’Grady.

Svensson compiled a 16-6-2 match play record and 10,159 42-game pinfall total including match play bonus pins Friday to secure the top spot 147 pins ahead of No. 2 qualifier second-year pro Andrew Anderson of Holly, Mich., who finished with a 10,012 pinfall and 15-9 record in match play.

Svensson, who is already a seven-time Tour winner at age 22, became the youngest player to win the Tournament of Champions, when he captured the title in Shawnee, Okla., in 2016 at age 20, eight days short of his 21st birthday.

Nearly failing to advance to match play after earning the 24th and final match play spot after qualifying on Thursday, nine-time PBA Tour major winner Jason Belmonte of Australia made a dramatic drive to reach the No. 3 qualifying position for the finals finishing with a 9,928 pinfall and 14-10 match play record.

Belmonte, who won his fourth Player of the Year crown in 2017, is trying for his 10th PBA major title to tie PBA Hall of Famers Pete Weber and Earl Anthony for the all-time major title record. A win would also make the 2014 and 2015 Tournament of Champions winner the third player to win the major three times. Jason Couch and Mike Durbin are the other three-time winners.

Should Belmonte, a 16-time tour winner capture the title, he would become only the fourth player to come from the 24th qualifying position, using PBA’s traditional head-to-head match play format, to win a major. The last player to accomplish the feat was Hall of Famer Parker Bohn III in the 2012 PBA World Championship.

If Belmonte advances to the championship match against Svensson, it would also set up a rematch of the 2017 PBA World Championship title match where Belmonte beat Svensson for the win. Belmonte defeated Svensson 238-225 for a record third major win during the season with previous wins coming in the United States Bowling Congress Masters and Barbasol PBA Players Championship.

BJ Moore of Greensburg, Pa., a PBA regional titlist, and Matt O’Grady of Rahway, N.J., a four-time regional winner, took the fourth and fifth stepladder spots, respectively. Moore finished with a 9,873 pinfall and O’Grady finished with a 9,824 to take the final spot. Both players had 15-9 records in match play.

Anderson, who owns one regional title as a PBA member, Moore and O’Grady advanced to the Tournament of Champions field through a pre-tournament qualifier. The PTQ enabled players who did not have tour titles, but owned titles in PBA’s other divisions, to earn spots in the field.

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53rd PBA Tournament of Champions 2018 – Sixth Round Standings

Players with position, hometown, match play record and 42-game total pinfall including bonus pins. Top five advance to Sunday’s stepladder finals on ESPN at 1 p.m. ET. Places 6-24 show earnings.

1, Jesper Svensson, Sweden, 16-6-2, 10,159
2, Andrew Anderson, Holly, Mich., 15-9, 10,012
3, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 14-10, 9,928
4, BJ Moore, Greensburg, Pa., 15-9, 9,873
5, Matt O’Grady, Rahway, N.J., 15-9, 9,824

Missed Cut:
6, Matt Sanders, Evansville, Ind., 14-10, 9,814, $6,500
7, Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind., 13-11, 9,780, $6,000
8, Anthony Simonsen, Austin, Texas, 14-10, 9,764, $5,500
9, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 15-9, 9,723, $5,000
10, Kristopher Prather, Plainfield, Ill., 11-12-1, 9,718, $4,800
11, Tom Daugherty, Riverview, Fla., 11-13, 9,703, $4,700
12, Kyle Troup, Taylorsville, N.C., 10-14, 9,691, $4,700
13, EJ Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 13-10-1, 9,678, $4,500
14, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 11-13, 9,522, $4,400
15, DJ Archer, Friendswood, Texas, 11-13, 9,515, $4,300
16, Mitch Beasley, Clarksville, Tenn., 14-10, 9,495, $4,200
17, Bill O’Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 8-16, 9,494, $4,100
18, Jakob Butturff, Tempe, Ariz., 9-15, 9,469, $4,000
19, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 10-14, 9,464, $3,900
20, Chris Warren, Grants Pass, Ore., 9-15, 9,445, $3,800
21, Kyle Sherman, O’Fallon, Mo., 10-13-1, 9,408, $3,700
22, Connor Pickford, Charlotte, N.C., 12-12, 9,326, $3,600
23, Shawn Maldonado, Houston, Texas, 8-15-1, 9,222, $3,650
24, Kurt Pilon, Warren, Mich., 6-16-2, 9,039, $3,500

300 games (3) – Matt O’Grady, Andrew Anderson, Kyle Troup.

53rd PBA Tournament of Champions 2018 – Fifth Round Standings

Players with position, hometown, match play record and 34-game total pinfall including bonus pins.

1, Jesper Svensson, Sweden, 11-3-2, 8,238
2, Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind., 10-6, 8,067
3, Matt O’Grady, Rahway, N.J., 11-5, 8,058
4, Andrew Anderson, Holly, Mich., 10-6, 8,020
5, Matt Sanders, Evansville, Ind., 11-5, 7,941
6, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 8-8, 7,852
7, BJ Moore III, Greensburg, Pa., 10-6, 7,847
8, Kyle Troup, Taylorsville, N.C., 8-8, 7,838
9, Anthony Simonsen, Austin, Texas, 9-7, 7,835
10, Tom Daugherty, Riverview, Fla., 7-9, 7,786
11, Kristopher Prather, Plainfield, Ill., 6-9-1, 7,766
12, Jakob Butturff, Tempe, Ariz., 8-8, 7,711
13, Mitch Beasley, Clarksville, Tenn., 10-6, 7,659
14, Bill O’Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 6-10, 7,653
15, Chris Warren, Grants Pass, Ore., 6-10, 7,645
16, EJ Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 7-8-1, 7,644
17, DJ Archer, Friendswood, Texas, 7-9, 7,627
17, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 8-8, 7,627
19, Kyle Sherman, O’Fallon, Mo., 7-8-1, 7,623
20, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 8-8, 7,610
21, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 5-11, 7,572
22, Connor Pickford, Charlotte, N.C., 7-9, 7,475
23, Shawn Maldonado, Houston, Texas, 5-10-1, 7,472
24, Kurt Pilon, Warren, Mich., 3-11-2, 7,326

Herbert Bickel

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