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Bill Vint | PBA Media Relations |

After 12 years and 159 tournaments before winning his first title, DJ Archer of Friendswood, Texas, put himself into position for a second Professional Bowlers Association Tour title Wednesday as the leader in the PBA Players Championship at AMF Bowlero.

Archer, 34, won his break-through title in the PBA Chameleon Championship during the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling VI in early November in Las Vegas, and used his new-found confidence to take the lead in the PBA Players Championship, winning seven of his first eight matches and averaging 244.25 to finish with 5,065 pins for 20 games, including match play bonus pins.

Archer will take a 42-pin lead over Ronnie Russell of Marion, Ind., who is going through a similar career renaissance, into the final two rounds of match play Thursday. Australia’s Jason Belmonte was third with 4,997 pins followed by Parker Bohn III of Jackson, N.J., with a 4,881 total and Norm Duke of Clermont, Fla., in fifth place with a 4,879 total.

“I have a lot of making up to do,” Archer said with a smile. “I feel more confident, more relaxed knowing I’ve been there. I know what the feeling (of winning a title) is.

“Tomorrow is going to be one of those days when I’m not going to worry about matches, but I’ll try to bowl 240 and see what happens. It’s just confidence bowling against these guys. If you’re relaxed, your ball reaction comes along.

“It’s very much the same way with Ronnie Russell right now,” Archer added. “I figure we’ll go back and forth tomorrow, and hopefully when the day is over, I’ll be in the same place. It’s kinda like a football game where the last team with the ball wins.”

In the Mark Roth/Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship qualifying which is being held concurrently with the Players Championship, PBA Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr. of Oxford, Fla., and his partner, Tom Smallwood of Saginaw, Mich., combined for a 5,760 pinfall total – a composite 240 average – to maintain their lead with a 72-pin margin over Belmonte and his partner, Bill O’Neill of Langhorne, Pa., who finished with 5,688. The top 12 teams after 24 combined games advanced to the match play rounds which will be held Friday.

Williams and Smallwood are an “odd couple” pairing, considering the 55-year-old Williams favors a “straighter is greater” bowling style while Smallwood is a high-rev player who prefers to hook the ball a lot. Williams holds the PBA Tour record with 47 titles while Smallwood, 37, is a two-title winner, including the 2009 PBA World Championship.

“I haven’t been bowling that well the past couple of years so I was pleasantly surprised when (Smallwood) asked me to bowl with him,” said Williams, who hasn’t made a TV show since 2013 and hasn’t won a PBA Tour title since the 2010 USBC Masters. “We’re doing two different things, but we’re making it work. (Smallwood) is able to take advantage of the inside shot as the lane break down and I’m able to stay outside and stay effective there. We’re able to learn some things that we can both benefit from even though we’re playing two different parts of the lane.”

Smallwood said he was surprised that Walter Ray was still available as a doubles partner, so he jumped at the chance to bowl with the Tour’s all-time leader.

“I had already assumed he had a partner, but when I found out he was available I jumped at the opportunity,” Smallwood said. “When Walter Ray’s available you call him. It’s as simple as that.

“We’re basically playing in two different zip codes (on the lanes),” Smallwood added. “Even though we’re playing two different parts of the lane, our adjustments are still surprisingly similar, two boards here, two boards there. We’re just doing what we do best.”

The PBA Players Championship finalists will bowl their final two eight-game match play rounds Thursday at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. CT, with the top five after 36 games advancing to the stepladder finals on Saturday, Feb. 14, at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis.

The top 12 doubles teams will bowl two six-game match play rounds at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. CT on Friday. After a composite total of 36 qualifying and match play games, the top five teams will advance to the Roth/Holman PBA Doubles Championship finals on Sunday, Feb. 15, at Woodland Bowl, following the live 1 p.m. telecast of the 50th anniversary Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions finals.

The PBA Players Championship finals will air on ESPN on Sunday, Feb. 22, at 1 p.m. ET. The PBA Doubles show will air on ESPN on March 1 at 1 p.m. ET.

All match play rounds of the Players Championship and PBA Doubles are being covered live on PBA’s Xtra Frame online bowling channel, and on’s “live scoring” feature. For Xtra Frame subscription information, visit and click on the Xtra Frame link.

AMF Bowlero, Wauwatosa, Wis., Jan. 28

Third Round Standings | After 20 Games - includes match play bonus pins

1, D.J. Archer, Friendswood, Texas, 6-2, 5,065. 

2, Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind., 5-2-1, 5,023. 

3, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 3-4-1, 4,997. 

4, Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J., 5-1-2, 4,881. 

5, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 5-3, 4,879. 

6, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 4-4, 4,861. 

7, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Oxford, Fla., 5-3, 4,841. 

8, Michael Haugen Jr., Phoenix, Ariz., 4-4, 4,808. 

9, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 3-5, 4,778. 

10, Tom Daugherty, Tampa, Fla., 2-5-1, 4,777. 

11, Rhino Page, Dade City, Fla., 2-5-1, 4,763. 

12, Brian Valenta, Lockport, Ill., 5-3, 4,750. 


For complete PBA Players Championship and Roth/Holman Doubles standings, visit pbaplayerschampionship


Bold denotes Storm and Roto Grip Staff




Photo | Storm Products, Inc.

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