ARLINGTON, Texas – Bill O’Neill of Langhorne, Pa., defeated top qualifier Jakob Butturff of Tempe, Ariz., 199-194, to win the Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Fame Classic title at the International Training and Research Center Sunday and in the process became title-eligible for election to the PBA Hall of Fame in the future.
The finals aired live on FOX Sports’ FS1 channel in the 2019 Go Bowling! PBA Tour’s debut event in its new multi-year television agreement with FOX.
O’Neill, after throwing 17 strikes on 22 attempt in eliminating Sweden’s Jesper Svensson, 258-219, and Australia’s Jason Belmonte, 268-188, struggled through his first four frames of the title match before throwing four strikes in a row to take the lead against Butturff, who missed two spare attempts. Butturff’s failure to convert the 4-7 in the ninth frame proved to be the difference.
“It might have appeared on TV that I got super nervous (early in the title match), but actually I was really calm,” O’Neill said. “I just made a bad shot and got a little out of rhythm, so in the third frame we talked about trying another ball. I wanted to try one more hand position change, and I made what I thought was a pretty good shot, but I left the 7-10, so I switched balls and I was good to go.
“It was one of those things,” he continued. “When it’s your day, it’s your day. I believed in myself. I believed in my game plan. I’ve been on TV enough to know things happen fast and you have to stick with your plan, and you go down with the ship.”
With his 10th title, O’Neill will be eligible for the 2025 PBA Hall of Fame ballot, his 20th year of PBA membership. But reaching the title-eligible part of the criteria was the key step.
“Anyone in my position who says he isn’t thinking about it would be a liar,” O’Neill added. “To become Hall of Fame eligible in the Hall of Fame Classic is pretty cool, but I’m not done yet. I’m ready to keep going.”
In the opening match, Svensson defeated Rhino Page of Orlando, Fla., 201-198.
The Go Bowling! PBA Tour’s next events will be the PBA Oklahoma Open and Mark Roth-Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship at FireLake Bowling Center in Shawnee, Okla. Qualifying will run concurrently for both events, beginning Tuesday. FloBowling will live-stream all qualifying rounds. The finals of the Oklahoma Open will air live on FS1 on Sunday, Jan. 13, at 11 a.m. EST. The Roth-Holman Doubles finals will air on FS1 the following Sunday, Jan. 20, at 1 p.m. EST.