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0:00 – Intro
5:19 – Match #1 – Simonsen vs. Svensson
26:41 – Match #2 – Tahvanainen
44:25 – Break
47:32 – Match #3 – Tackett
1:07:30 – Break
1:11:05 – Championship Match – Butturff
The five finalists at the PBA Scorpion Championship, the second of four PBA Tour title events at the Guaranteed Rate PBA World Series of Bowling XIV, include four future Hall of Famers and the reigning Harry Golden PBA Rookie of the Year.
Jakob Butturff surpassed EJ Tackett in the final of 20 games of qualifying at Bowlero Wauwatosa to earn the No. 1 seed. Santtu Tahvanainen, Anthony Simonsen and Jesper Svensson will join them in the championship round on Tuesday, April 18 at 7 p.m. ET on FS1.
Butturff, who along with Tackett also advanced to the finals at the PBA Cheetah Championship on Tuesday, made a similar climb up the leaderboard during Scorpion qualifying.
“With two days of two five-game blocks, the first day for me is (about) seeing the picture,” Butturff said. “I saw the picture going into today, trying to adjust with my speed more consistently. I feel like I was a little bit off tempo with that yesterday, but I was a little bit more consistent with my ball speed and I think that was what paid off for me today.”
Tackett has now reached seven of 10 championship rounds this season, finishing no lower than third in any of those appearances. The only championship round of 2023 that has not featured Butturff or Tackett came last week at the USBC Masters.
At every tournament predominantly featuring a medium-length pattern this season, Tackett has reached the finals.
“I think over my career, I've really excelled on the 40-ish foot patterns,” Tackett said. “I don't know what it is about my game, how I bowl and how I see the lane but I tend to match up on those patterns quite often. This year has been no exception.”
With three wins already under his belt, Tackett’s confidence is nearing an all-time high.
“My confidence is probably one of the highest it's ever been in my career,” Tackett said. “I've never really lost confidence in myself, even through the years where I hadn't won or not won as much, but it is definitely very high up there right now.”
Tahvanainen, the 26-year-old from Finland, has bowled for a PBA title and has bowled on TV — but never at the same time. He made his PBA debut in Wauwatosa last season, unsure of whether or not he could compete at the game’s highest level.
“I feel like my confidence has been building up all the time during the season because, well, I've done well,” Tahvanainen said. “I have proved, especially for myself, that I can do it. My aim since the first day (of this week) was to make the World Championship cut and maybe the show.
“After the PBA League, I realized that I love being on TV. Especially on this pattern, I feel like I have a possibility (to win) if I just execute well, so I'm really looking forward to that.”
After Chris Via and Matt Russo struggled in their ultimate game, shooting 174 and 166 respectively, Simonsen and Svensson seized the opportunity.
Because transition made the 42-foot Scorpion pattern challenging on certain pairs, Simonsen opted to throw his plastic ball straight at the pocket the last game. He said realized plastic could be an option when he threw it and struck on the fill ball of the final game of Round 1.
Needing at least 201 to usurp Via and Russo, Simonsen delivered a 236.
“To me, the track just hooks a whole lot, even on the fresh,” Simonsen said. “I feel like if I could just kind of throw it at the head pin, it's going down there pretty firm so it's got a chance to at least catch a double. I was fortunate enough to get a couple of doubles and get extra bonus pins for the World Championship and get into the show for the Scorpion pattern.”
Svensson thought he would need to shoot over 250, but realized midway through the game he would make the show with anything over 223. That meant he needed to strike in the eighth through 11th frames.
“At that point, I just tried to dig deep and throw good shots,” Svensson said. “You’re tired, you’re in here all day pretty much and it was a pretty long block of bowling. You just try to find that last energy you’ve got and make a quality shot.”
This marks Svensson’s first championship round appearance of the season and first since the PBA Playoffs in 2022.
“I didn't really have the show in mind coming into this pattern because I didn't feel very comfortable,” he said. “I've been feeling pretty good all season, made a couple of match plays and a few cuts here and there but I haven't really been able to get it done. It feels good to actually be able to keep it together here.”