Ten-time PBA Tour winner and former PBA Player of the Year Wes Malott
of Pflugerville, Texas, successfully defended his PBA King of Bowling crown for the eighth time by defeating challenger four-time PBA Player of the Year Jason Belmonte of Australia, 2-0, in a best-of-three game match Tuesday at AMF Riviera Lanes in Fairlawn, Ohio.
The kick-off to the PBA Tournament of Champions, which begins Wednesday with first round qualifying, was the first-ever PBA event streamed via Facebook Live on the PBA’s page on Facebook.
After winning the first game, 250-213, Malott came through with a clutch 10th-frame performance in the second game throwing three consecutive strikes to beat Belmonte 227-225. Belmonte, who finished the game first, threw the first two strikes in the 10th but left the 2-8 on his final ball leaving the door open for Malott.
“Anytime you can throw three strikes in the 10th to win it really makes the win more satisfying,” said Malott. “Bowling against a great player like Jason I felt I had to get it done right then and there. I didn’t feel good about it going another game.”
After the second strike in the 10th, Malott made a concerted effort to get into a positive mindset for the final shot.
“I’ve been in those situations where when you need eight or nine (pins) to win you throw it away with a six or seven count,” he said. “I cleared my mind of any negative thoughts and didn’t take a lot of time on the approach. I just focused on making the best possible shot.”
Since winning the inaugural King of Bowling challenge in 2009, Malott has successfully defended his crown with wins bowling against Chris Barnes, Patrick Allen, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Rhino Page, Parker Bohn III, EJ Tackett and Belmonte in a trios challenge and most recently, Tommy Jones.
Belmonte was chosen as Malott’s opponent by fan voting from a list of TOC champions on pba.com. The three other finalists in the voting were Barnes, Pete Weber and Norm Duke.
The 53rd PBA Tournament of Champions begins with first round qualifying Wednesday at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET. Qualifying and match play continue Thursday and Friday which will determine the top five for Sunday’s live stepladder finals on ESPN at 1 p.m. ET.
Fans can catch TOC qualifying and match play rounds on PBA’s online bowling channel Xtra Frame. For subscription and schedule information click here.
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