New York, NY—Tom Smallwood and Kyle Troup lead their respective regions into the PBA Players Championship Central and East Region Finals airing this weekend on FS1. Each region will award a berth in the Championship Finals to air Feb. 21 on FOX Broadcast Channel.
Smallwood, one of three major champions in the Central Region, finished 68 pins ahead of second through qualifying. Two of Smallwood’s three career PBA Tour titles are majors, including the 2018 PBA Players Championship and 2009 World Championship.
Qualifying second for the stepladder is 2018 PBA Player of the Year Andrew Anderson, who claimed both of his PBA Tour titles that season, including the USBC Masters. Anderson played a prominent role on the Las Vegas High Rollers, who advanced to the 2020 PBA League Elias Cup Championship before finishing second, and looks to return to his Player of the Year form early in 2021.
Four-time PBA Tour champion Ronnie Russell sits third, helped by two perfect games during qualifying. Russell finished second to Parker Bohn III in a tie-breaking roll-off in the 2015 PBA Players Championship and is looking to win his first PBA Tour title since 2016.
Malott, the 2008-09 PBA Player of the Year, owns 10 PBA Tour titles, including the 2013 U.S. Open. Malott closed his 2020 season by anchoring the Portland Lumberjacks to their second consecutive Elias Cup and then outlasted 11 other players to win the PBA League All-Star Clash.
Challenging Malott in the opening match is Zach Weidman, a 26-year-old from Indianapolis making his TV debut. In the final game of qualifying, Weidman rolled a 258 game to get past EJ Tackett, who landed just 17 pins short of the top five.
The Central Region Finals air Saturday, Feb. 6 at 4 p.m. ET on FS1.
In the East Region, Troup, a six-time winner on the PBA Tour including three victories in 2020 alone, led the field by 66 pins in his effort to claim his first major title. To win the East Region, Troup will have to defeat one of four players hoping to secure a PBA Tour title for the first time.
Brandon Novak is making his fourth career televised finals appearance with a previous best finish of third in the 2017 PBA Scorpion Championship. The 32-year-old from Chillicothe, Ohio owns five PBA regional titles but has yet to win his first national title.
Third seed Michael Davidson makes his television debut after qualifying 13 pins behind Novak and well ahead of fourth place. Davidson was one of the early leaders and stayed in the mix throughout all four qualifying rounds to earn his spot on the stepladder.
Chris Via, who finished fifth in each of the last two majors—the 2020 U.S. Open and World Championship—will need to win four matches to guarantee himself a fifth-or-better finish in the Players Championship.
Securing the fifth spot in the final game of qualifying was defending champion Bill O’Neill. However, due to COVID-19 protocol, O’Neill had to withdraw from the stepladder. Tim Foy Jr., who finished just behind O’Neill after qualifying, will assume the fifth spot and make his first career TV finals appearance. His best career PBA Tour finish is sixth, which he’s done twice.
The East Region Finals air Sunday, Feb. 7 at 2 p.m. ET on FS1.
The two players who emerge victorious this weekend will join West Region winner Anthony Simonsen, Southwest Region winner François Lavoie and next week’s South Region winner, in the PBA Players Championship Finals, which will feature a top prize of $250,000 and air live on FOX Feb. 21.
Central Region Stepladder Finalists
- Tom Smallwood
- Andrew Anderson
- Ronnie Russell
- Wes Malott
- Zach Weidman
Full Central Region standings: pba.com/node/117436
East Region Stepladder Finalists
- Kyle Troup
- Brandon Novak
- Michael Davidson
- Chris Via
- Tim Foy Jr.
Full East Region standings: pba.com/node/117431
Upcoming Players Championship Television Schedule
Bowlero Jupiter – Jupiter, Fla.
Saturday, Feb. 6 at 4 p.m. ET on FS1 – Central Region Finals
Sunday, Feb. 7 at 2 p.m. on FS1 – East Region Finals
Sunday, Feb. 14 at 1 p.m. on FS1 – South Region Finals
Sunday, Feb. 21 at 12:30 p.m. on FOX – PBA Players Championship Finals