Orange’s Jason Belmonte has won virtually everything tenpin bowling has to offer, but the Professonial Bowlers Association’s King of Bowling crown eluded him in Portland over the Easter weekend.
Belmonte, along with 2016 PBA player of the year EJ Hackett and Wes Malott, contested the tournament, which returned after a 10-year hiatus as part of the Mark Roth/Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship and the LL Bean PBA League Elias Cup finals.
Malott claimed the title, defending his crown from 10 years ago.
Since that last crown, he’s had knee surgery, another child and expanded his business exponentially.
Malott rolled games of 238, 256 and 227 for a 721 three-game series, record convincing wins over Hackett and Belmonte, who rolled 664 and 640 respectively in the made-for-television event’s revival.
“I wish we had been able to do something like this sooner, especially after the performance I had at Kegel,” Malott said.
“Any time you can compete against the hottest players of the time, it’s great fun. It might not have meant as much to Jason or EJ as it did to me, but it was something I needed to prove to myself.
“I haven’t had the drive I need to have lately, so to be able to bowl against the best and take them down in a somewhat convincing manner was enjoyable.
“It felt a little like a regular TV show, and I haven’t been in that position for quite a while.
“But that’s the reason you do this. It’s a whole lot more than the money.”