AURORA, Ill. – Jason Sterner of Rochester, New York, won all four stepladder final matches including a 243-212 title match victory over top seed EJ Tackett of Bluffton, Indiana, to win the FloBowling PBA Illinois Open Saturday for his third career Go Bowling! PBA Tour title. The Illinois Open was the pinnacle event of the three-tournament FloBowling PBA Summer Swing presented by the Brands of Ebonite International at Parkside Lanes.
In a stepladder final that featured a dual lane condition pattern – PBA 41-foot Bear condition on the left lane and 32-foot Wolf condition on the right lane – both players started the title match with a spare and two strikes but Sterner was able to pull away when Tackett missed a 3-6-10 spare in the fourth frame. Sterner put together four more strikes that ultimately proved too much for Tackett to overcome.
(Feature Photo caption: Jason Sterner en route to winning the PBA Illinois Open at Parkside Lanes in Aurora, Illinois. USA Today Sports photo by Mike DiNovo)
As the No. 5 seed for the finals, Sterner won his position round match in the final match play round against 11-time tour winner Bill O’Neill of Langhorne, Pennsylvania, 256-199, to make it into the finals.
“I think that (position round) win really relaxed me and put me in a good mindset for the finals,” said the 35-year-old Sterner. “I felt fortunate to make the finals, so my attitude was let’s throw a lot of strikes and go have some fun.”
“I had been struggling for a long time, but I made a (ball) grip change about four months ago and made some other physical changes,” Sterner said. “My game wasn’t evolving the way it should to keep up with the younger guys so I had to make some changes and just committed to them. There was some trial and error but now I’m really confident my game’s moving in the right direction.”
Sterner opened the stepladder finals with a 248-184 win over No. 4 seed Anthony Simonsen of Little Elm, Texas, who won the PBA Bear Open on Thursday for his seventh career title.
In the second match, Sterner then beat PBA Wolf Open winner Sean Rash of Montgomery, Illinois, 259-225, to advance to the semifinal match where he beat No. 2 seed two-hander Jason Belmonte of Australia, 236-208, to advance to the title match against Tackett. Tackett, who also finished second in the Bear Open, was trying for his second win of the season and 14th of his career.
“The win against Jason (Belmonte) gave me a lot of confidence heading into the title match,” Sterner said. “I had my share of ugly strikes, but I was thinking just knock 10 pins down, fill the frames and hope the breaks would go my way.”
Belmonte, a four-time PBA Player of the Year, was trying for his fifth win of the season and 23rd of his career.
As the points leader for the nine-tournament FloBowling PBA Summer Tour, Rash, whose Wolf Open win was the 14th of his career and second of the season, won the USBC Cup and a $20,000 bonus.
To make the Illinois Open stepladder finals, the five finalists advanced from the 14 games of qualifying in both the PBA Wolf and Bear Opens earlier in the week and then competed in 24 games of match play which also used the mixed Wolf and Bear lane conditions.
The entire Summer Swing was streamed live on FloBowling. For subscription and schedule information visit www.flobowling.com.
FLOBOWLING PBA ILLINOIS OPEN
Third event of the FloBowling PBA Summer Swing presented by the Brands of Ebonite International
Parkside Lanes, Aurora, Ill., Saturday
1, Jason Sterner, Rochester, N.Y., $20,000.
2, EJ Tackett, Bluffton, Ind., $10,000.
3, Jason Belmonte, Australia, $7,000.
4, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., $6,000.
5, Anthony Simonsen, Little Elm, Texas, $5,000.
Match One – Sterner def. Simonsen, 248-184.
Match Two – Sterner def. Rash, 259-225.
Semifinal – Sterner def. Belmonte, 236-208.
Championship – Sterner def. Tackett, 243-212.
FINAL MATCH PLAY RESULTS
(includes match play record and total pinfall for 52 games including match play bonus pins. Top five advance to stepladder finals)
1, EJ Tackett, Bluffton, Ind., 16-7-1, 12,426.
2, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 17-7, 12,272.
3, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 15-9, 12,235.
4, Anthony Simonsen, Little Elm, Texas, 13-10-1, 12,175.
5, Jason Sterner, Rochester, N.Y., 14-10, 12,074.
6, Bill O’Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 15-8-1, 12,037, $4,100.
7, Kyle Troup, Taylorsville, N.C., 14-10, 12,020, $3,500.
8, Francois Lavoie, Canada, 10-13-1, 11,871, $3,500.
9, AJ Johnson, Oswego, Ill., 12-10-2, 11,861, $3,100.
10, Dick Allen, Lexington, S.C., 14-10, 11,850, $2,900.
11, Jake Peters, Henderson, Nev., 13-10-1, 11,826, $2,800.
12, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 11-13, 11,784, $2,700.
13, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 13-10-1, 11,739, $2,600.
14, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 11-13, 11,698, $2,500.
15, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 12-12, 11,656, $2,450.
16, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 10-14, 11,628, $2,400.
17, Dom Barrett, England, 11-13, 11,614, $2,350.
18, (tie) Brad Miller, Lees Summit, Mo., 11-13-0, 11,578, and Kyle Sherman, O’Fallon, Mo., 8-16, 11,578, $2,275.
20, Kamron Doyle, Brentwood, Tenn., 10-14, 11,506, $2,200.
21, Sam Cooley, Australia, 10-14, 11,504, $2,150.
22, Tun Ameerul Al-Hakim, Malaysia, 9-13-2, 11,463, $2,100.
23, Tom Daugherty, Riverview, Fla., 6-18, 11,306, $2,050.
24, Arturo Quintero, Mexico, 8-16, 11,219, $2,000.