PBA Players Championship

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The PBA Players Championship is one of five major tournaments on the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Tour. It is one of three PBA Tour major events that are open only to PBA members. (The U.S. Open and USBC Masters allow qualifying amateurs to enter.)

Tournament history[edit]

The tournament began as the PBA Touring Players Championship in 1983 and ran every PBA Tour season through 2000. PBA Hall of Famer Steve Cook won the inaugural event. There were no Players Championship events under any name from 2001 to 2010. After the tournament returned to major status in the 2016 season, the PBA voted to retroactively award major titles to the winners of the three previous Players Championship events that decade (2011, 2013, 2015), stating the tournament "is a members-only event, and includes all of the elements of a major."[1]

Through 2020, the tournament included a maximum starting field of 92 PBA players. The top PBA members in earnings from the previous season had entry priority over the general membership, and could fill up to 82 spots. The remaining 10 spots in the starting field were filled from a ten-game pre-tournament qualifier (PTQ). The tournament format has changed over the years. The format through 2020 included 42 games of qualifying: three rounds of six games each to determine the top 24 for match play, followed by three match play rounds of eight games each. All pins from the initial 18 games carry over into the match play round, with the match play rounds adding 30 bonus pins per victory to the total pinfall in the round. The field was then cut to the top five for the televised stepladder finals.[2]

There is no set oil pattern. The 2018 Players Championship used the 44-foot Carmen Salvino oil pattern,[3] while the 2019 event used the 45-foot Dragon pattern.[4] The 2020 event featured the 38-foot Wayne Webb oil pattern, named after the PBA Hall of Famer whose bowling center in Columbus, Ohio hosted this tournament from 2016 through 2020.[5] The 2023 event featured a dual oil pattern, with the 45-foot Dick Weber pattern on the left lane and the 39-foot Don Carter pattern on the right lane.

Revamp in 2021[edit]

The PBA announced a revamped Players Championship for the 2021 season that opened up the event to the broader PBA membership. Five Regional events were hosted first. After 28 qualifying games (7 games on each of four oil patterns), each Region held its own stepladder finals broadcast. The five Regional winners then competed in the televised tournament finals.[6] The five finals participants bowled a three-game set the day before the broadcast to determine seeding for the stepladder.

The Regional concept was introduced, in part, due to travel restrictions that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic, and allowed most PBA professionals to compete in safe events closer to home.

The 2021 PBA Players Championship featured a $1 million prize fund, with a PBA record-tying $250,000 first place prize.[6]

The regional qualifying/national finals format was retained for the 2022 season.

2023 format change[edit]

In 2023, the tournament returned to a one-site format, taking place in North Brunswick, New Jersey. This season's event had 48 games of qualifying, with the top 12 qualifiers earning spots in the bracketed match play. The 5 through 12 seeds competed in head-to-head, single-game elimination matches (5 vs. 12, 6, vs, 11, etc.) on May 6, while the 1 through 4 seeds earned byes into the quarterfinal round. The quarterfinals on May 7 featured head-to-head, double-elimination matches in a "race to two points" format. In this format, any player winning both games advances to the semifinals; if the games are split one win each, a ninth-tenth frame roll-off determines who advances.[7]

The semifinals on May 13 also used the race to two points format, while the final head-to-head match on May 14 was a best-three-of-five format. The Players Championship is the only 2023 PBA major that does not use a stepladder final round.

PBA Players Championship winners[edit]

2023 Event[edit]

The 2023 PBA Players Championship was held from April 30 to May 14 at Bowlero North Brunswick in North Brunswick, New Jersey with the aforementioned changes. The tournament had 128 total entries and a $400,000 prize fund, with a $100,000 top prize. The final stages of the tournament were televised on May 6–7, 13–14.

Ninth-seeded Kevin McCune won his first career PBA title, defeating second seeded Jakob Butturff with a three-game sweep in the final round.[8] Kevin McCune's victory made his family (with grandfather Don and father Eugene) the first to have three generations of PBA title holders.[9]

Round of 12 - May 6
1 Game Matches
Quarterfinals - May 7
Race to 2 Points
Semifinals - May 13
Race to 2 Points
Finals - May 14
Best 3 of 5
1 E. J. Tackett 192 211 24
8 Zac Tackett 189 9 Kevin McCune 193 208 49
9 Kevin McCune 200 9 Kevin McCune 227 225
12 Anthony Simonsen 171 196
4 Tomas Kayhko 190 232 38
5 Chris Via 231 12 Anthony Simonsen 213 211 40
12 Anthony Simonsen 237 9 Kevin McCune 206 247 220
2 Jakob Butturff 178 204 175
3 Matt Russo 160 180
6 Bill O'Neill 253 6 Bill O'Neill 218 196
11 Dom Barrett 208 6 Bill O'Neill 239 256 24
2 Jakob Butturff 175 264 59
2 Jakob Butturff 224 278
7 Jesper Svensson 167 10 Keven Williams 188 203
10 Keven Williams 232

Final Standings:
1. Kevin McCune (Munster, Indiana) – $100,000
2. Jakob Butturff (Tempe, Arizona) – $50,000
T3. Anthony Simonsen (Las Vegas, Nevada) – $25,000
T3. Bill O'Neill (Langhorne, Pennsylvania) – $25,000

Past Champions[edit]

Listing of all champions dating back to the inaugural 1983 Touring Players Championship.

  • 2014: Not held
  • 2012: Not held
  • Not held 2001–2010


  1. ^ Vint, Bill (15 February 2016). "Barbasol PBA Players Championship Returns to Major Title Status; Belmonte, Norton, Bohn Earn Retroactive Majors". PBA.com. Retrieved 16 February 2016.
  2. ^ Schneider, Jerry (14 February 2019). "Belmonte Recovers From Slow Start in First Match Play Round to Regain Lead in PBA Players Championship". PBA.com. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  3. ^ "PBA Unveils Revamped Library of 16 Lane Oiling Patterns for 2018 PBA Tour". BowlingDigital.com. September 28, 2017. Retrieved January 2, 2018.
  4. ^ "2019 Go Bowling! PBA Tour Schedule". PBA.com. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
  5. ^ Vint, Bill (August 29, 2016). "PBA, Barbasol Sign Two-Year Agreement to Keep Barbasol PBA Players Championship in Columbus". pba.com. Retrieved February 11, 2020.
  6. ^ a b Dziomba, D. (December 9, 2020). "PBA ANNOUNCES FIRST EVENT OF 2021 TOUR SEASON". pba.com. Retrieved December 9, 2020.
  8. ^ "Kevin McCune Writes Own Legacy, Wins PBA Players Championship Presented by Snickers | PBA". www.pba.com. Retrieved 2023-05-15.
  9. ^ Hughes, Nolan (14 May 2023). "KEVIN MCCUNE WRITES OWN LEGACY, WINS PBA PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP PRESENTED BY SNICKERS". pba.com. Retrieved 15 May 2023.

External links[edit]

All Time Touring Players Championship Winners