SUZHOU, China– Sean Rash, 14-time Professional Bowlers Association Tour title winner, added another special achievement to his pack when he swept American PBA member AJ Johnson in a three-game favorite title game to win the historic China PBA Tiger Cup at the Suzhou Tiger Bowl, the first ever PBA event to be held in China.
Johnson, from nearby Oswego, was beaten by Rash, of Montgomery, Illinois, 211-194 and 227-207 for the title. Rash’s turn of the 2-4-8-10 split in the ninth frame to win game one was the key bullet in the game.
The two Illinois bowlers were part of a seven-player PBA delegation that bowled in a one-off playoff event that also included nine PBA members from China and Hong Kong China. Rash raised $ 20,000 to win; Johnson received $ 10,000 as second place.
The finals were broadcast live Tuesday on FloBowling.com with online streaming partner PBA. The finals are also available in the FloBowling archive.
The competition was a growth out of a trend that began early in the current decade when China expressed interest in developing archers as PBA level competitors. The PBA invited a group of Chinese bowlers who had established a bowling average of 200 and above to participate in the 2014 PBA World Bowling Series in Las Vegas. That experience, along with ongoing discussions between PBA Commissioner Tom Clark and Frank Zhao of China, founder and president of Longmarch Bowling, eventually led to the inaugural China Tiger Cup tournament.
American PBA players were invited based on tournament points earned through the 2019 PBA FloBowling Summer Tour. Rash and Johnson were joined by Kyle Sherman of O’Fallon, Missouri; Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, South Carolina; Bill O’Neill of Langhorne, Pennsylvania; Jason Sterner of Rochester, New York, and Kyle Troup of Taylorsville, North Carolina.
The American players were seeded into a 16-player elimination round against nine Chinese representatives who won the medals in a kick-off event involving nearly 100 players from China, Hong Kong Chinese, Taipei China, Malaysia and Korea.
The Chinese players showed how far they have progressed in less than 10 years, winning five of the eight games in the first round and eliminating American stars Troup, Jones and Sterner in the process. Rash advanced to the title game by eliminating a pair of Chinese substitutes in a 2-0 sweep while Johnson eliminated U.S. team-mates O’Neill and Sherman, also winning both games without losing a game.
The China PBA Tiger Cup was the final event of Go Go Bowling 2019! PBA Tour Season. The PBA Tour will be in vain until it kicks off its 2020 record with the PBA Hall of Fame Classic in Arlington, Texas, in January.
CUP TIGER PBA CHINA
Suzhou Bowling Center, Suzhou, China
Competition (three games preferred)
Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill. ($ 20,000), def. AJ Johnson, Oswego, Ill. ($ 10,000), 2-0 (211-194, 227-207).
Semifinal Round (top three games)
Rash def. Cheuk Yin Mak, Chinese Hong Kong ($ 8,000), 2-1 (210-174, 225-268, 258-191).
Johnson def. Jun Su, China ($ 6,000), 2-0 (227-181, 203-171).
Play Game Round Two (three best games)
Mak def. WenBin Chen, China ($ 5,000), 2-1 (242-191, 187-213, 237-221).
Su def. HongBo Wang, China ($ 4,200), 2-0 (207-192, 234-194).
Johnson def. Kyle Sherman, O’Fallon, Mo. ($ 4,500), 2-0 (256-222, 256-211).
Rash def. Min Zhang, China ($ 2,650), 2-0 (256-234, 246-202).
Match Play Round One (top three matches)
Mak def. Kyle Troup, Taylorsville, NC ($ 3,850), 2-0 (256-244, 236-206).
Su def. Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, SC ($ 3,500), 2-0 (213-213, 217-212).
Johnson def. Bill O’Neill, Langhorne, Pa.; ($ 3,300), 2-0 (279-174, 200-146).
Rash def. LiangXin Wang, China ($ 2,650), 2-0 (237-202, 220-168).
Zhang def. ShiZhen Wang, China ($ 3,850), 2-1 (202-215, 223-185, 206-193).
Sherman def. ZhongLi Mi, China ($ 2,900), 2-0 (226-201, 221-219).
HongBo Wang def. Jason Sterner, Rochester, NY ($ 3,100), 2-0 (190-177, 196-183).
Chen def. To Hin Tse, Chinese Hong Kong ($ 2,500), 2-0 (194-168, 225-184).