PBA Announces Multi-Year Agreement to Add USBC Masters, U.S. Open to PBA on FOX Sports Schedule

by Bill Vint January 15, 2019 15:36

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Professional Bowlers Association, United States Bowling Congress and Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America today announced a multi-year agreement to include the USBC Masters and U.S. Open as major events on the Go Bowling! PBA Tour television package on FOX Sports.

FOX Sports will televise the U.S. Open live on FOX from 2020 through 2022 and the USBC Masters live on FS1 from 2019 through 2022. The announcement was made today at the BPAA Mid-Winter Summit in New Orleans.

“The PBA is thrilled to have these two major professional events as part of the PBA Tour television package on FOX Sports for years to come,” PBA CEO and Commissioner Tom Clark said. “It is terrific for the bowling industry to rally behind the PBA Tour on FOX Sports and collaborate on a long-term commitment for these major events.”

As a result of the agreement, the 2020 U.S. Open will move up in the calendar with the televised finals set for Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. The current U.S. Open format will continue, with a host venue for the 2020 event to be announced later.

The USBC Masters will continue to be conducted in its traditional time window in conjunction with the USBC Open Championships.

“The PBA Tour move to FOX Sports is fantastic for bowling and everyone associated with the U.S. Open and USBC Masters is excited to be part of it,” USBC Executive Director Chad Murphy said. “The media attention and investment in competitive bowling keeps growing and this partnership is another great win-win for the sport.”

Known as the BPAA All-Star from 1941-1970, the U.S. Open now is a collaborative effort of the BPAA and USBC.

“Elevating the U.S. Open to FOX provides a new level of exposure for a tournament with a rich BPAA history,” BPAA Executive Director Frank DeSocio said. “The launch of the PBA Tour on FOX has been extremely impressive and we are proud to be involved.”

About PBA

Now in its 61st year, the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) is an organization of more than 3,000 of the best bowlers from 27 countries who compete in Go Bowling! PBA Tour, PBA International Tour, PBA50 Tour, and PBA, PBA50 and PBA-PWBA Women’s Regional events. In 2019, the PBA enters its 60th consecutive year of nationally-televised competition, reaching bowling fans around the world who follow PBA activities through the PBA Network which includes Xtra Frame on FloBowling, the PBA’s exclusive online bowling channel, FOX Sports, FS1 and CBS Sports Network, and the PBA on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. PBA sponsors include Brunswick, Ebonite International, FloBowling.com, GoBowling.com, MOTIV, 900 Global, PBA Bowling Challenge Mobile Game, Storm Products and the United States Bowling Congress, among others. Learn more at www.pba.com.

About International Bowling Campus

The International Bowling Campus (IBC) is the headquarters for the bowling industry and directly serves the more than 69 million bowlers in the United States. The IBC houses the resources of the United States Bowling Congress, the governing body and membership organization for the sport; the Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America, representing the business interests of bowling centers; IBC Youth Development; Strike Ten Entertainment, the marketing arm for the industry; the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame; the International Bowling Pro Shop and Instructors Association; the International Bowling Media Association; the Bowling News Network; the Billiard and Bowling Institute of America; and the International Training and Research Center.

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PBA Spare Shots: It’s Early, But Bill O’Neill Grabs Early Lead in PBA Playoffs Points Race

by Bill Vint January 11, 2019 12:51

It’s a small sample and there’s a long way to go, but after the opening event of the 2019 Go Bowling! PBA Tour season, PBA Hall of Fame Classic winner Bill O’Neill of Langhorne, Pa., is the leader in the race to the inaugural PBA Playoffs.

Why bring it up when there are still 12 events to be held between now and the USBC Masters – the final PBA Playoffs qualifying event that will conclude on April 1 in Las Vegas. Just to give fans an idea of how easy it will be to follow the points race as the season moves along. Right now, it’s as easy as clicking on this link on pba.com: https://www.pba.com/SeasonStats/PointsList/132?list=1.

In the very near future it’ll be even easier to find because a new PBA Playoffs link is under construction and will have a prominent presence on the pba.com home page. To recap the program: the top 24 in points will earn a trip to the Playoffs. The top 8 earn a first-round bye. The Playoffs is a 10-show series from Portland, Maine, including live final four and championship round telecasts on FOX June 1-2. The Playoffs will pay the highest first prize in bowling, $100,000.

After the PBA Hall of Fame Classic, O’Neill took the lead with 2,500 points for winning the event, which was ranked as a Tier 3 event in the PBA’s three-tier rating system because it was both a limited field and an abbreviated format tournament. Tier 2 tournaments are “standard” PBA events that award twice as many points as the Tier 3 base system; Tier 1 tournaments are PBA major championships that award three times the Tier 3 points. All players who bowl in every Go Bowling! PBA Tour event will earn points.

The other top 10 finishers and the points they earned in the HOF Classic are as follows:

2, Jakob Butturff, 1,500;

3, Jason Belmonte, 1,150;

4, Jesper Svensson, 950;

5, Rhino Page, 850;

6, Jason Sterner, 775;

7, EJ Tackett, 745;

8, Sam Cooley, 715;

9, DJ Archer, 685;

10, Kris Prather, 655.


Thanks to the support of the Bowl4Life Foundation, created by long-time Brunswick Tour Rep Chuck Gardner, there will be a new reward system for the 2019 season’s top PBA rookie, based in part on the same PBA point system that will qualify players for the PBA Playoffs, among other things.

PBA Spare Shots will include a regular “Bowl4Life PBA Rookie Watch” as the season progresses. At year end, the player who is elected 2019 Harry Golden PBA Rookie of the Year will earn $2,500 bonus from the Bowl4Life Foundation and the foundation will donate another $2,500 to a youth bowler scholarship in the Rookie of the Year’s name.

Some of the rookies who have made an early appearance in 2019 include Michael Coffey, Melbourne, Fla.; Michael Davidson, Versailles, Ohio; Patrick Hanrahan, Wichita, Kan.; Mykle Holliman, Collierville, Tenn.; AJ Rice, Salem, Ala.; Andrew Suscreba, Clifton, N.J.; and three-time Junior Team USA member Greg Young, Viera, Fla. Other first-year players may also join the fray.

The Bowl4Life Foundation is a non-profit formed by Gardner in 2013 with the intention of growing the sport by assisting bowlers of all ages in improving their skill levels and knowledge of the game. In addition, the Foundation has awarded over $52,000 in scholarships to youth bowlers.

Bowl4Life relies on sponsors, merchandise sales from its website, and fundraising activities. Through its fundraising efforts, the hope is to expand the #growbowling concept into an industry-leading revival. Fans can follow Bowl4Life on Facebook to stay abreast of its announcements.


PBA stars Chris Barnes and Mika Koivuniemi, and Kelly Kulick, the first woman to win a PBA Tour title, will be part of the 2019 United States Bowling Congress Hall of Fame class that will be inducted on May 1 during the annual USBC Convention at The Orleans in Las Vegas.

Barnes, 48, of Double Oak, Texas, was inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in 2018. He owns 19 PBA Tour titles, including three majors. The 1998 PBA Rookie of the Year and the 2007-08 PBA Player of the Year is one of five bowlers to have won both awards and one of six to have won the PBA Triple Crown.

Koivuniemi, 51, is a Finland native who was inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in January. Since joining the PBA Tour at age 32, he has 14 titles including three majors. The most successful European in PBA Tour history also is a two-time PBA Player of the Year (2003-04 and 2010-11).

Kulick, 41, of Union, N.J., made bowling history in 2010 when she won the PBA Tournament of Champions, defeating both Koivuniemi and Barnes in that show. She also was the first and only woman to earn an exemption to bowl full-time on the PBA Tour under the old PBA Tour Trials program. Kulick won PWBA Rookie of the Year honors in 2000, won six women’s major titles and won 22 gold medals as a 14-year member of Team USA.

The trio of superior performance honorees will join the late Kegel founder John Davis (Meritorious Service), journalist Bob Johnson (Meritorious Service) and another pair of PBA Hall of Famers – former Player Services Director Larry Lichstein (Pioneer) and the late Jim St. John (Veterans) – as inductees.


Hours after learning of her election to the USBC Hall of Fame, Kelly Kulick won the women’s title in the 2019 USBC Team USA Trials while fellow USBC Hall of Famer John Janawicz of Winter Haven, Fla., topped a sold-out field of 175 men to claim his second in the event.

At the conclusion of the annual tournament, all members of Team USA for the coming year as determined either by their performances in the event or by being selected by the National Selection Committee. PBA members who will be members of Team USA 2019 include Nick Pate of Inver Grove Heights, Minn.; Darren Tang of San Francisco; 2018 PBA Player of the Year Andrew Anderson of Holly, Mich.; EJ Tackett of Bluffton, Ind.; Kyle Troup of Taylorsville, N.C.; Jakob Butturff of Tempe, Ariz.; and Marshall Kent of Yakima, Wash.

Landing berths on women’s Team USA were PBA members Missy Parkin of Laguna Hills, Calif., and Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, N.Y.


PBA Regional competition resumes over the Jan. 11-13 weekend with the PBA50 Patton Amusement and Genesis Western Open presented by Ebonite at West Valley Bowl in Tracey, Calif.

● The PBA Central and Southwest Regions will hold their first events of 2019 over the Jan. 18-20 weekend. Legend Lanes in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, will host the PBA/PBA50 Don Vay Memorial Central Doubles while South Plains Lanes in Lubbock, Texas, hosts the Lubbock Sports Southwest Open presented by Ebonite.

● The only regional event on tap for the Jan. 26-27 weekend is the PBA Japan Region’s Roto Grip Cup and Shark Open at PBA Fuji Bowl in Iruma, Japan.

● For complete PBA Regional schedules, rules and entry information, visit pba.com, open the “schedules” tab and click on PBA Regional Tours to find the event(s) in your area…and remember, you can follow “live scoring” for all PBA Regional events on pba.com (easily accessible for Apple and Android device users using the PBA app).


Another addition to the roster for the upcoming CP3 PBA Celebrity Invitational, presented by Go Bowling!, will be Chris Paul’s Houston Rockets teammate PJ Tucker. Previously announced celebrities include NFL Hall of Famer Terrell Owens, Major League Baseball stars Mookie Betts and Alex Bregman, former NFL star and current FOX NFL analyst Michael Vick, NASCAR champion Aric Almirola and CBS’s Big Brother star Tyler Crispen. PBA stars who will compete are Hall of Famers Norm Duke, Pete Weber and Chris Barnes; Andrew Anderson, Jason Belmonte, Tommy Jones, Sean Rash, EJ Tackett and Kyle Troup. Tickets for the event, which begins at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 17, at Bowlero The Woodlands in Conroe, Texas, are available at www.pba.com/Tickets.

11th Frame blogger Jeff Richgels has reported that PBA member Jerry Marrs was at work in early October when he suffered his second heart attack in six years. Six days later the 40-year-old Marrs had quadruple bypass surgery. Fast forward three months to Sunday, Jan. 6 when Marrs won the ninth annual King Classic Ritchie Buss Memorial at Four Seasons Bowl in Freeport, Ill., over a field of PBA Midwest Region and top amateur competitors. Marrs made this post on Facebook after his win: “…This is unbelievable! I had one goal in this tournament being my first one back from my quadruple bypass surgery, and that was to cash. Never in the wildest dreams did I think I’d win!”

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Bill O’Neill Becomes Hall of Fame Eligible with Victory in PBA Hall of Fame Classic to Kick Off 2019 Season

by Bill Vint January 6, 2019 10:55

ARLINGTON, Texas – Bill O’Neill of Langhorne, Pa., defeated top qualifier Jakob Butturff of Tempe, Ariz., 199-194, to win the Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Fame Classic title at the International Training and Research Center Sunday and in the process became title-eligible for election to the PBA Hall of Fame in the future.

The finals aired live on FOX Sports’ FS1 channel in the 2019 Go Bowling! PBA Tour’s debut event in its new multi-year television agreement with FOX.

O’Neill, after throwing 17 strikes on 22 attempt in eliminating Sweden’s Jesper Svensson, 258-219, and Australia’s Jason Belmonte, 268-188, struggled through his first four frames of the title match before throwing four strikes in a row to take the lead against Butturff, who missed two spare attempts. Butturff’s failure to convert the 4-7 in the ninth frame proved to be the difference.

“It might have appeared on TV that I got super nervous (early in the title match), but actually I was really calm,” O’Neill said. “I just made a bad shot and got a little out of rhythm, so in the third frame we talked about trying another ball. I wanted to try one more hand position change, and I made what I thought was a pretty good shot, but I left the 7-10, so I switched balls and I was good to go.

“It was one of those things,” he continued. “When it’s your day, it’s your day. I believed in myself. I believed in my game plan. I’ve been on TV enough to know things happen fast and you have to stick with your plan, and you go down with the ship.”

With his 10th title, O’Neill will be eligible for the 2025 PBA Hall of Fame ballot, his 20th year of PBA membership. But reaching the title-eligible part of the criteria was the key step.

“Anyone in my position who says he isn’t thinking about it would be a liar,” O’Neill added. “To become Hall of Fame eligible in the Hall of Fame Classic is pretty cool, but I’m not done yet. I’m ready to keep going.”

In the opening match, Svensson defeated Rhino Page of Orlando, Fla., 201-198.

The Go Bowling! PBA Tour’s next events will be the PBA Oklahoma Open and Mark Roth-Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship at FireLake Bowling Center in Shawnee, Okla. Qualifying will run concurrently for both events, beginning Tuesday. FloBowling will live-stream all qualifying rounds. The finals of the Oklahoma Open will air live on FS1 on Sunday, Jan. 13, at 11 a.m. EST. The Roth-Holman Doubles finals will air on FS1 the following Sunday, Jan. 20, at 1 p.m. EST.

International Training and Research Center, Arlington, Texas, Sunday

Final Standings
1, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., $25,000.
2, Jakob Butturff, Tempe, Ariz., $13,000.
3, Jason Belmonte, Australia, $8,000.
4, Jesper Svensson, Sweden, $7,000.
5, Rhino Page, Orlando, $6,000.

Playoff Results:
Match One: Svensson def. Page, 201-198.
Match Two: O’Neill def. Svensson, 258-219.
Semifinal Match: O’Neill def. Belmonte, 268-188.
Championship: O’Neill def. Butturff, 199-194.

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PBA Inducts Four into Hall of Fame in First Ceremonies Held in International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame

by Bill Vint January 5, 2019 19:57

ARLINGTON, Texas – There was no more appropriate place to welcome the Professional Bowlers Association’s four newest Hall of Fame members than the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame itself, and that’s exactly what happened Saturday when Finland’s Mika Koivuniemi; Patrick Allen of South Salem, N.Y.; Jim Doty of Indianapolis, and Bob Johnson of Las Vegas joined the PBA’s elite.

The first induction ceremonies ever held within the IBM/HF itself were part of the PBA Hall of Fame Classic weekend which concludes Sunday with the PBA’s first live stepladder finals telecast on FOX Sport’s FS1 channel at 11 a.m. EST. The HOF Classic is the first tournament of the 2019 Go Bowling! PBA Tour season.

But Saturday night was for coats and ties, and cocktail dresses, as two decorated PBA Tour champions, a long-time PBA tournament host and an award-winning bowling journalist were honored for their highly successful careers contributions to professional bowling. It was a ceremony filled with good humor, serious appreciation and moments of emotion.


Koivuniemi, who now resides in the United Arab Emirates where he is coaching the UAE national bowling team, is a 14-time PBA Tour champion who earned his nickname – Major Mika – after winning two majors before he won his first “standard” PBA Tour title. In his first PBA television appearance, he defeated PBA star Pete Weber by a single pin to win the 2000 USBC Masters. A year later he won the U.S. Open, and he claimed the crown jewel of his PBA career in 2011, when he won the $250,000 first prize in the $1 million PBA Tournament of Champions.

“I have sat in these ceremonies many times and don’t remember what anyone said,” Koivuniemi began, “so I thought, how can I do something people will remember? Maybe give my speech in Finnish. Or maybe with my accent, they won’t remember anyway.

“I’ve very proud to be the first European elected to the PBA Hall of Fame,” he continued on a more serious note. “In 1995, I decided to come to the U.S. to see how good I was.”

He related how after one early failure, PBA member Mike Miller offered him some advice that stuck.

“Mike Miller said to me, you have to get better or you’ll go back home in a year,” Koivuniemi said. “I decided to work harder.”


Allen, a 13-time PBA Tour title winner, won PBA’s 2004-05 Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year after becoming the second player in PBA history to finish among the top five in all four PBA majors during the same season – finishing second in the USBC Masters and U.S. Open, fifth in the PBA Tournament of Champions and winning the PBA World Championship.

“To make it into the hall of fame on the first ballot was a thrill,” Allen said. “Seventeen years later, it was like it all happened in a flash. But here we are. The day comes when you have to say when. It’s painful, but it’s great to be back among my friends tonight.”

Allen also had special words for his presenter, fellow PBA Hall of Famer Doug Kent.

“Doug was responsible for two careers: his own and mine,” Allen said. “He told me I had to learn the technical side of the sport, and then he taught me.”


Doty is general manager of Royal Pin Leisure centers, the Indianapolis chain that includes long-time PBA host Woodland Bowl. Under his leadership, Woodland Bowl has hosted PBA events over a span of 20 years, including the U.S. Open, PBA Touring Players Championship, USBC Masters, PBA World Championship, PBA Tournament of Champions and PBA League Elias Cup finals among other events. Woodland Bowl is the only center to host all five PBA major Championships.

“It’s been close to 40 years we’ve been hosting tournaments, and I’ve got a lot of stuff on some of you,” he said jokingly to the numerous PBA players in the room.

“It’s been a labor of love,” he said, “but if it wasn’t for my dedicated staff, we’d never host the PBA. I can’t put into words how important this is to me. It’s amazing the talent the players have; you have to love having these guys come to our place.

“Randy Pedersen once called Woodland Bowl the Yankee Stadium of bowling, and he’s right. The list of players who have grown up here is a long one. It’s great to know all of the people who know us as the place where the pros bowl. I’m proud of that.”


Johnson began his journey into bowling journalism at age 15 and eventually served as editor of four national bowling magazines, winning 75 national writing awards for his news, feature and editorial compositions, many of which directly involved the PBA. Currently Senior Editor of Bowlers Journal International and editor of the BJI Cyber Report, he is a recipient of both the International Bowling Media Association’s Luby Hall of Fame Award and the Mid-America Bowling Writers Golden Quill Award.

To mark the occasion, Johnson and his wife Michelle purchased a commemorative brick for the sidewalk outside the IGM/HF, wrote a check to the breast cancer charity of PBA staffer Mary von Krueger’s charity of choice and donated the cost of his Hall of Fame ring to BVL, bowling’s official charity in support of the nation’s military veterans.

“I’m not a ring guy,” Johnson said, “except for this one (pointing to his wedding ring).”

“I learned that one of the secrets to bringing a story to life is what you put between the commas,” he noted. “I’ve always tried to write the best stories I can. I doesn’t always work… Telling PBA players’ stories has been a real pleasure and I hope I can continue doing it for many more years.”

Also recognized during the ceremonies were 2018 Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year Andrew Anderson of Holly, Mich.; Harry Golden PBA Rookie of the Year Kamron Doyle of Brentwood, Tenn.; PBA Steve Nagy Sportsmanship Award winner Tom Smallwood of Saginaw, Mich., and PBA Tony Reyes Memorial Community Service Award recipient Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas.

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Jakob Butturff Holds Off Jason Belmonte to Earn Top Berth for Sunday’s PBA Hall of Fame Classic Finals

by Bill Vint January 5, 2019 10:39

ARLINGTON, Texas – Jakob Butturff of Tempe, Ariz., held off a hard-charging Jason Belmonte of Australia to earn the top berth for Sunday’s Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Fame Classic finals at the International Training and Research Center.

The finals will air live on FOX Sports’ FS1 channel at 11 a.m. EST. The Hall of Fame Classic will be the first title decided in the 2019 Go Bowling! PBA Tour season.

Butturff, a 24-year-old left-hander who is trying for his fifth PBA Tour title, led the tournament through all three qualifying rounds, finishing with an 18-game total of 4,284 pins, 11 ahead of Belmonte. After scoring at a 252 clip for the first 12 games, Butturff slowed down Saturday, rolling games of 268, 214, 215, 138, 215 and 203 while Belmonte steadily closed in. A split in the 10th frame, which he converted, prevent Belmonte from overtaking the young left-hander.

“It was a bit of a struggle today. There were fewer bowlers and a different crossing pattern, so the lanes played differently, “Butturff said. “But I was able to hold on to the lead and tomorrow’s a different day.”

Belmonte, who finished with 4,273 pins, wasn’t disappointed about his finish. The Australian two-hander and four-time PBA Player of the Year had games of 185, 260, 247, 228, 253 and 244 to close the gap.

“I got off to a slow start, but I bowled well after that,” the 18-time titlist said. “I have no goals this year. I’m just going to try to be the best bowler I can every week. I want to be bowler of the year again, but if I start to focus on things like that, I get in my own way. If I bowl my best, good things will happen.”

Rounding out the top five are Bill O’Neill of Langhorne, Pa., who finished with 4,111 pins; Swedish two-hander Jesper Svensson with a 4,091 total and veteran left-hander Rhino Page of Orlando with 4,076 pins.

The GoBowling! PBA Tour’s next events will be the PBA Oklahoma Open and Mark Roth-Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship at FireLake Bowling Center in Shawnee, Okla. Qualifying, which will run concurrently for both events, begins Tuesday. FloBowling will live-stream all qualifying rounds. The finals of the Oklahoma Open will air live on FS1 on Sunday, Jan. 13, at 11 a.m. EST. The Roth-Holman Doubles finals will air on FS1 on Sunday, Jan. 20, at 1 p.m. EST.

International Training and Research Center, Arlington, Texas, Saturday

Final Qualifying Standings (after 18 games, top five advance to Sunday’s FS1 stepladder finals)
1, Jakob Butturff, Tempe, Ariz., 4,284.
2, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 4,273.
3, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 4,111.
4, Jesper Svensson, Sweden, 4,091.
5, Rhino Page, Orlando, 4,076.
6, Jason Sterner, Fayetteville, Ga., 4,022, $4,800.
7, EJ Tackett, Bluffton, Ind., 3,980, $4,300.
8, Sam Cooley, Australia, 3,971, $3,900.
9, DJ Archer, Spring, Texas, 3,970, $3,600.
10, Kristopher Prather, Plainfield, Ill., 3,930, $3,400.
11, Stuart Williams, England, 3,884, $3,200.
12, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 3,881, $3,000.
13, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 3,871, $2,800.
14, Kyle Troup, Taylorsville, N.C., 3,863, $2,600.
15, Devin Bidwell, Wichita, Kan., 3,842, $2,400.
16, Cristian Azcona, Puerto Rico, 3,827, $2,200.
17, Tom Daugherty, Riverview, Fla., 3,822, $2,100.
18, Anthony Lavery-Spahr, Pasadena, Texas, 3,810, $2,000.

300 Game: Bill O’Neill.

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