Perfect Game Helps Ronnie Russell Take Barbasol PBA Players Championship First Round Lead
COLUMBUS, Ohio (Feb. 7, 2017) -- With the help of a 300 game, four-time Professional Bowlers Association Tour winner Ronnie Russell of Marion, Ind., averaged 247.8 to lead the 115-player field Tuesday after the first round of the Barbasol PBA Players Championship at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl.
The 37-year-old Russell, who is trying for his first major title, fired a 1,983 eight-game pinfall total with games of 278, 300, 217, 245, 245, 240, 213 and 245.
“I made an equipment change recently so I did a lot of practice and felt really good coming in here,” Russell said. “I was in a place where all I had to do was make simple moves and when that’s all you have to do it makes it easy.”
Russell’s last individual PBA Tour title came in the 2015 Badger Open. His fourth PBA title came in the PBA Team Challenge last November in Las Vegas.
“It wasn’t long ago that I was making shows on a regular basis but then the last few months I’ve kind of flat-lined,” Russell added. “I’ve made some changes to come in fresh and really clear-headed and so far it’s paying off.”
Russell held a commanding lead over former Wichita State standout and fellow Team USA member AJ Chapman who finished the first round in second with a 1,877 pinfall.
The 23-year-old Chapman bowled games of 247, 258, 209, 235, 278, 216, 219 and 215.
“It’s great to be in this position but I have confidence in my ability,” Chapman said. “I need to learn a lot out here but I expect to bowl well, too.”
Chapman was a member of the Wichita State team that won the 2015 Intercollegiate Team Championships.
“I’ve gained a lot of experience bowling in college but going from the team format to individual competition takes some re-programming,” Chapman added. “You’re learning in a whole new environment so there’s definitely an adjustment that needs to be made in your mental game.”
Graham Fach, who became the first Canadian to win a PBA Tour title when he won last year’s Players Championship, finished the round in 10th with a 1,824 pinfall.
Rounding out the top five were Jakob Butturff, Tempe, Ariz., 1,870; Anthony Pepe, Elmhurst, N.Y., 1,859 and Brad Miller, Maryland Heights, Mo., 1,851.
Competition continues with eight-game qualifying rounds Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. After Thursday’s round the field will be cut to 24 players who will bowl another eight-game round Friday morning that will determine the top 16 players who will advance to the final eight-game round Friday afternoon. After Friday’s final round, the top five players will advance to the live stepladder finals Sunday on ESPN at 1 p.m. ET.
All qualifying rounds are covered live on PBA’s Xtra Frame online video streaming service. For subscription information, visit pba.com and click on the Xtra Frame link.