Tom Smallwood, who burst upon the pro bowling scene in 2009 when as a laid off auto worker won the PBA World Championship captured the PBA Players Championship Sunday, and he did it the hard way at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl in Columbus, Ohio.
Smallwood, the No. 5 qualifier, had to win four stepladder matches to claim the title and the $40,000 top prize. In the final he had to take on Jason Belmonte of Australia, defeating the reigning PBA Player of the Year, 259-239.
In order, Smallwood defeated Patrick Girard of Canada (237-206), Kris Prather of Plainfield, Ill. (236-235)) and Marshall Kent of Yakima, Wash. (225-224) before meeting Belmonte the top qualifier.
Smallwood was 93rd after the first round of qualifying.
"That’s one of the assets of my game to grind through matches and never quit," said Smallwood, whose first major came in the 2009 PBA World Championship. "I’m good with the pressure and if I’m not striking a lot I can hang in there to stay in contention. This tournament was a great example of that."
Western New York native Liz Johnson of Palatine, Ill, finished 19th. Brad Angelo of Lockport was 37th and Ryan Ciminelli of Clarence was 83rd.