Bowling: Belmonte beats former Indiana high school champ Tackett in Masters
Staff and wire report February 23, 2014 9:46PM
Updated: February 23, 2014 11:00PM
North Brunswick, N.J. — Australia’s Jason Belmonte became the first bowler in nearly 50 years to successfully defend a United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Masters title on Sunday as he defeated Huntington native E.J. Tackett, 221-177.
Belmonte, the reigning Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Player of the Year, opened up a big lead early and eased to the title at Brunswick Zone Carolier. With the victory, Belmonte, who earned $50,000 for the win, is just the third player to successfully defend a Masters title, joining Billy Welu (1964 and 1965) and Dick Hoover (1956 and 1957).
“This tournament is so difficult to win,” said Belmonte, who won his ninth career PBA title and his third major. “I always have high expectations for myself, but to go down in history as the third one and first in 50 years to win back-to-back is a huge honor.”
In the final, Belmonte got out of the gates quickly and took advantage of a slow start by Tackett, the reigning PBA Rookie of the Year. The match wasn’t settled, however, until the final frame when Belmonte converted the 4-pin and struck on his final ball to shut out Tackett.
“I wish I would have had a chance, but Jason did what he had to do to win,” said Tackett, who won the Indiana High School Bowling state title in 2009, and saw his younger brother, Zac, do the same thing a little more than a week ago. “I’m disappointed I didn’t win, but it’s an experience I’m going to learn from this and hopefully next time I can win.”
In addition to making history with consecutive Masters victories, Belmonte also added his name to a short list of players who have won back-to-back major titles. He won the PBA Tournament of Champions in January and is the seventh player in history to win back-to-back majors.