Anthony Simonsen, Danielle McEwan Win World Bowling Tour Men’s, Women’s Finals

by Bill Vint February 26, 2017 11:42

By PBA Staff and Aaron Smith, PWBA Communications

LAS VEGAS – Anthony Simonsen of Austin, Texas, capped a year of globetrotting by winning the World Bowling Tour Men’s Finals, presented by the PBA, Sunday at The Orleans Bowling Center, defeating WBT points leader Martin Larsen of Sweden, 243-213, for the $20,000 first prize.

Simonsen, a 20-year-old two-handed player who qualified second for the finals after a year-long, world-wide points competition based on performances in PBA International-World Bowling Tour events, eliminated no. 3 qualifier Marshall Kent of Yakima, Wash., in the opening match of the three-man stepladder, 263-253.

Women’s top qualifier and defending champion Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, N.Y., successfully defended her WBT Women’s Finals title in unexpected fashion when Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga, N.Y., needing only a mark in the 10th frame to win, left a pocket 7-10 split and opened, handing McEwan a 203-200 victory.

Simonsen, the 2016 United States Bowling Congress Masters champion, struck on six of his first seven shots in the title tilt to build a 33-pin lead under WBT’s experimental “Current Frame” scoring system and secured the win on the bench when Larsen did not strike in the 10th frame.

Under the “Current Frame” system, players earned 30 pins a frame for each strike; 10 pins plus the total from their first shot of the frame for a spare, and actual pinfall for an open frame. Games consisted of 10 frames with no additional shots in the 10th frame if a player strikes or spares. The maximum score is 300 (30 pins for 10 strikes).

For Simonsen, the WBT win was a bit of redemption after falling short in his title defense at the USBC Masters. Simonsen finished the week tied for 17th place.

“It’s been a good three-week swing,” said Simonsen, who finished second at the 2017 Barbasol PBA Players Championship. “I made a TV show, all three cuts, so it’s been a good run. You obviously want to win them all, but being able to finish this week with the win makes it all worth it.”

McEwan, a 25-year-old right-hander, threw a strike in her 10th frame for a 203, forcing Johnson, a two-time PWBA Player of the Year, to mark in her 10th frame for the win. Johnson ran into a disaster instead.

After starting the title match with two strikes, McEwan was unable to strike again until the 10th frame, converting four multiple-pin combinations to remain in contention. Johnson held a 28-pin lead heading into the ninth frame but was unable to mark in her final two frames.

“In the moment, I didn’t think that strike would be enough,” said McEwan, who won the 2016 H.H. Emir Cup in Doha, Qatar. “I hadn’t struck on that lane in a while, so I just wanted to get to the pocket. It’s hard to watch that happen on the bench to someone who’s such a good friend and someone I look up to, but sometimes bowling works that way. I need to appreciate being on this side of it, because I know the other side can come just as easily.”

In the semifinal match, Johnson bested Colombia’s Anggie Ramirez, 268-220.

WORLD BOWLING TOUR FINALS PRESENTED BY PBA
The Orleans Bowling Center, Las Vegas, Sunday

WBT WOMEN’S FINALS
Final Standings:

1, Danielle McEwan, Stony Point, N.Y., $20,000.
2, Liz Johnson, Cheektowaga, N.Y., $10,000.
3, Anggie Ramirez, Colombia, $5,000.
Stepladder Results (WBT Current Frame scoring system):
Semifinal Match: Johnson def. Ramirez, 268-220.
Final: McEwan def. Johnson, 203-200.

WBT MEN’S FINALS
Final Standings:

1, Anthony Simonsen, Austin, Texas, $20,000.
2, Martin Larsen, Sweden, $10,000.
3, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., $5,000.
Stepladder Results (WBT Current Frame scoring system):
Semifinal Match – Anthony Simonsen, Austin, Texas, def. Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 263-253.
Final – Simonsen def. Martin Larsen, Sweden, 243-213.

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PBA Spare Shots: PBA’s ESPN Telecasts Continue to Post Impressive Viewership Gains

by Bill Vint February 23, 2017 08:16

With the final championship events of “Big February” scheduled to air live Sunday, the PBA on ESPN continues to have strong viewership gains year-over-year. Through the first 10 telecasts of the 2016-17 ESPN season including the WSOB, viewership is up 13%, averaging 650,000.

BelmoBig February’s four shows so far include the Main Event Terrell Owens PBA Super Clash (averaging 712,000 viewers), the Barbasol PBA Players Championship (averaging 664,000 viewers), the State Farm CP3 PBA Celebrity Invitational (averaging 834,000 viewers) and FireLake PBA Tournament of Champions (averaging 704,000 viewers). Each of the shows has been among the highest rated sports program on cable on its respective air date.

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Of note, the State Farm CP3 PBA Celebrity Invitational had a strong rating among coveted 18-49 year-olds, with 482,000 of the 834,000 average number of viewers in that category (58 percent).

Tackett.EJ_2017 TOC (42)Big February concludes Sunday with another TV first for the PBA on ESPN: back-to-back live telecasts. First the USBC Masters title will be decided with a stepladder final at 1 p.m. EST (10 a.m. PST), followed by the Men’s and Women’s World Bowling Tour Finals at 3 p.m. EST (noon PST), both live from The Orleans in Las Vegas.

In addition to ESPN’s live coverage, the Masters and WBT Finals will be live streamed on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.

WORLD BOWLING TOUR FINALS TO FEATURE EXPERIMENTAL SCORING SYSTEM

The 2016 World Bowling Tour season officially concludes Sunday when the PBA presents the World Bowling Tour Men’s and Women’s Finals, live on ESPN at 3 p.m. EST from The Orleans Bowling Center in Las Vegas.

Sunday’s WBT finals will include men’s top qualifier Martin Larsen of Sweden, Anthony Simonsen of Austin, Texas, and Marshall Kent of Yakima, Wash. The women’s finalists will be defending champion Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, N.Y.; Colombia’s Anggie Ramirez, and Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga, N.Y. Players in both divisions will compete for $20,000, $10,000 and $5,000 prizes.

Competition will again be conducted using the experimental “World Bowling scoring system” introduced last year whereby players will bowl 10 frames with a strike counting as 30 points, a spare counting for 10 points plus the number of pins converted (example: a 10 pin spare will be worth 10 plus 9 = 19), and an open frame will count as the actual pinfall (example: if a player leaves the 4-6-7-10 split and converts the 4-7, the score for the frame will be 8).

The maximum score under the World Bowling system is still 300 – based on 10 consecutive strikes - and there is no extra shot or bonus pins in the 10th frame. In last year’s final, England’s Dom Barrett shot the first “World Bowling 300 game” in winning the men’s title over American qualifier Mike Fagan, 300-256.

XTRA FRAME CONTINUES “BIG FEBRUARY” COVERAGE AT THE MASTERS

Xtra Frame’s “Big February” coverage continues with qualifying and double-elimination match play coverage of the USBC Masters today through Saturday from The Orleans Bowling Center in Las Vegas. The Masters finals, followed by the World Bowling Tour Men’s and Women’s Finals presented by the PBA will air live, back-to-back, on ESPN on Sunday, Feb. 26, beginning at 1 p.m. EST.

Xtra Frame subscriptions are available for $3.99 (three days), $7.99 (a full month) or the full year Xtra Frame Season Ticket (at about $5 a month). Visit xtraframe.tv to enroll.

QUBICA AMF PBA REGIONAL UPDATE: BARNES WINS 27TH REGIONAL TITLE IN SHAWNEE

PBA Southwest Region Hall of Famer and 18-time PBA Tour champion Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, defeated Greg Ostrander of Freehold, N.J., 243-200, to win his 27th QubicaAMF PBA Regional title and the $2,500 first prize in the second annual PBA FireLake Grand Casino Resort Southwest Winter Open at FireLake Bowling Center preceding the FireLake PBA Tournament of Champions.

Barnes, one of several PBA Tour champions who used the event as a warmup for the TOC, qualified in sixth place for the best-of-two-game match play elimination rounds in the regional event, and he began his march to the title with a 2-0 victory over PBA Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr. of Oxford, Fla. He then disposed of BJ Moore III of Greensburg, Pa., 2-0 in the Round of 8 and won his semifinal round match against defending champion Anthony Pepe of Elmhurst, N.Y., 213-210.

Greg McMahan of Dandridge, Tenn., defeated Brian Kretzer of Dayton, Ohio, 213-205, 216-212, in the best-of-three-game title match to win his fourth QubicaAMF PBA Regional title in the PBA50 Dave Edwards Toyota Spartanburg Southern Open presented by Global 900 at Paradise Lanes in Spartanburg, S.C., Sunday.

McMahan, who was in control throughout both games of the title match, won the $2,400 first prize while Kretzer pocketed $1,400 as the runner-up. In the best-of-three semifinal round, McMahan swept Dave Sill of Titusville, Fla., 237-212, 208-203, while Kretzer rallied to eliminate Dale Csuhta of Wadsworth, Ohio, 208-205, 199-181.

● For complete QubicaAMF PBA Regional schedules, rules and entry information heading into the new year, visit pba.com, open the “schedules” tab and click on QubicaAMF Regional Tours to find the event(s) in your area. For more information about QubicaAMF, visit www.qubicaamf.com or, for social media posts, visit http://bit.ly/QAMFSponsorship1.

QUICK NOTES

● PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber has learned he’ll be inducted into the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame in September, along with standout St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter. Additional details will be announced later.

● Just in time for the Mark Roth/Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship in Portland, Maine, the PBA Store (pba.com/store) is offering a new line of Mark Roth signature t-shirts and polos. The Roth/Holman doubles event will include a pro-am and qualifying rounds April 9-12, concluding with live ESPN stepladder finals on Sunday, April 16, at 1 p.m. ET.

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PBA Spare Shots: 50th Anniversary of Jack Biondolillo’s Historic Televised 300 Game Approaches

by Bill Vint February 11, 2017 05:38

On April 1, 1967, the PBA’s post-tournament news release reported, “Jack Biondolillo socked the biggest 300 in the history of the game. His came before the American Broadcasting Company's national colored television cameras for which he collected a cool ten thou ($10,000)…”

The first nationally-televised 300 game in PBA history – witnessed by a television audience of 25 million viewers according to PBA’s release – occurred during the Firestone PBA Tournament of Champions at Riviera Lanes in Akron, Ohio, during a first-game 300-216 win over Les Schissler. Biondolillo then defeated Mike Durbin, 188-181, before losing in the semifinal match to Don Johnson, 228-172. Jim Stefanich then won the TOC, defeating Johnson, 43-36, in a two-frame roll-off after they tied at 227.

As the 50th anniversary of his historic feat closes in, Biondolillo, a Houston native, attended the Main Event Terrell Owens PBA Super Clash on Super Bowl Sunday in Katy, Texas, where he posed with four other PBA members who also bowled nationally-televised 300 games. Pete McCordic bowled televised 300 no. 4 in Torrance, Calif., on Jan. 31, 1987. Parker Bohn III bowled no. 13 in the USBC Masters in Reno, Nev., on May 9, 1998. Norm Duke bowled no. 16 in Tacoma, Wash., on Jan. 5, 2003. Jason Belmonte recorded no. 21 in Las Vegas on Nov. 19, 2011.

(In the featured photo, from left are Pete McCordic, Parker Bohn III, Jack Biondolillo, Jason Belmonte and Norm Duke)

Including Biondolillo’s historic 300, there have been a total of 26 nationally-televised perfect games in PBA competition.

WORLD BOWLING ANNOUNCES 2017 PBA INTERNATIONAL-WBT SCHEDULE

World Bowling, the international governing body for tenpin bowling, and the PBA have announced a schedule of PBA International-World Bowling Tour tournaments that will award PBA Tour titles to winners (if they are PBA members) and points to players toward the 2018 WBT Finals presented by the PBA. Points also will be awarded to women bowlers. Women are eligible for PBA Tour titles if they bowl against the men and don’t accept handicap pins.

Tournaments included on the 2017 PBA International-WBT schedule include:

● Brunswick Euro Challenge, Munich, German, March 18-26;

● Oklahoma Open, Shawnee, Okla., June 26-July 2;

● Sweden WBT, Malmo, Sweden, Aug. 14–28;

● WBT Thailand, Bangkok, Thailand, Sept. 30-Oct. 6;

● PBA World Championship, tba;

● Kingdom of Saudi Open, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Nov. 16-22;

● Kingdom of Bahrain Open, Manama, Bahrain, Nov 23-28;

● Kuwait Open, Kuwait City, Kuwait, Nov. 29-Dec. 3.

The World Bowling World Championships, set for Dec. 4-18 in Kuwait City, also is a WBT points event, but will not award a PBA title. For more information about World Bowling, visit Worldbowling.org.

The 2017 WBT Men’s and Women’s Finals presented by the PBA will be televised live on ESPN on Sunday, Feb. 26 following the finals of the USBC Masters. The men’s finalists, based on 2016 WBT points, will include top qualifier Martin Larsen of Sweden, Anthony Simonsen of Austin, Texas, and Marshall Kent of Yakima, Wash. The women’s finalists will be Danielle McEwan of Stony Point, N.Y.; Colombia’s Anggie Ramirez, and Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga, N.Y.

TOC, HOF NEXT AS XTRA FRAME CONTINUES “BIG FEBRUARY” COVERAGE

Following the live ESPN finals of the Players Championship on Sunday, Feb. 12, at 1 p.m. ET, the PBA and Xtra Frame head to Shawnee, Okla., for live coverage of the PBA Hall of Fame induction ceremonies and 2016 PBA Awards presentations on Monday, Feb. 13, at 8 p.m. ET from the Grand Casino Hotel & Resort.

Xtra Frame coverage then moves to FireLake Bowling Center in Shawnee for the preliminary rounds of the FireLake PBA Tournament of Champions, Feb. 14-17. That week is concluded by the live ESPN finals of the TOC from FireLake Arena on Sunday, Feb. 19, at 1 p.m. ET.

Xtra Frame’s Big February coverage continues with qualifying and double-elimination match play coverage of the USBC Masters from The Orleans Bowling Center in Las Vegas, Feb. 21-25. The USBC Masters finals, followed by the World Bowling Tour Men’s and Women’s Finals presented by the PBA will air live, back-to-back, on ESPN on Sunday, Feb. 26, beginning at 1 p.m. ET.

PBA fans also are reminded that Xtra Frame coverage features two channels which means viewers can watch more players in action. The primary XF channel includes commentary; the secondary channel includes video coverage only. And PBA’s ESPN coverage also will include the Chris Paul PBA Celebrity Invitational, benefitting the Chris Paul Family Foundation, on Friday, Sept. 17, at 9 p.m.

PBA’s all-star month is a perfect time for PBA fans to sign up for Xtra Frame’s full month subscription for only $7.99. Three-day ($3.99) and full year Xtra Frame Season Ticket (less than $1.25 a week) options also are available. Visit xtraframe.tv to enroll.

QUBICA AMF PBA REGIONAL UPDATE: CLIFFORD, BYERS WIN SOUTH CHALLENGE EVENTS

Amateur Charles Clifford Jr. of Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., defeated Carlos Tobon of Hollywood, Fla., 230-225, to win the PBA BreakPoint Alley Challenge presented by DV8 Sunday and, in the PBA50 portion of the QubicaAMF PBA South Region doubleheader weekend, Mike Byers of Charleston, S.C., defeated Ralph Brunt of Jensen Beach, Fla., 236-190 for his first PBA title.

Clifford Jr. earned $2,300 for his win, but he doesn’t earn credit for a PBA title because he isn’t a PBA member. Byers pocketed $1,600 and became eligible to compete for a berth in the FireLake PBA Tournament of Champions Feb. 10-11 if he decides to do so.

Both Challenge events were open to players who have not won PBA titles.

● Leading into the FireLake PBA Tournament of Champions, FireLake Bowling Center in Shawnee, Okla., will host the PBA Grand Casino Hotel & Resort Southwest Winter Open Feb. 10-12. The tournament, in addition to serving as a standard PBA Regional event, is also a qualifying event for the TOC, with at least 24 eligible PBA title-holders advancing to the TOC.

● The PBA South Region will host the PBA50 Dave Edwards Toyota Spartanburg Open, presented by 900 Global, over the Feb. 17-19 weekend at Paradise Lanes in Spartanburg, S.C.

● For complete QubicaAMF PBA Regional schedules, rules and entry information heading into the new year, visit pba.com, open the “schedules” tab and click on QubicaAMF Regional Tours to find the event(s) in your area. For more information about QubicaAMF, visit www.qubicaamf.com or, for social media posts, visit http://bit.ly/QAMFSponsorship1.

QUICK NOTES

● Just in time for the Mark Roth/Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship in Portland, Maine, the PBA Store (pba.com/store) is offering a new line of Mark Roth signature t-shirts and polos. The Roth/Holman doubles event will include a pro-am and qualifying rounds April 9-12, concluding with live ESPN stepladder finals on Sunday, April 16, at 1 p.m. ET.

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PBA Spare Shots: Sweden’s Martin Larsen, USA’s Danielle McEwan Lead World Bowling Tour Finalists

by Bill Vint December 22, 2016 04:12

McEwan.Danielle_AS_2013WomensUSOpen(7)Sweden’s Martin Larsen and Danielle McEwan (left) of Stony Point, N.Y., are the top qualifiers for the World Bowling Tour Men’s and Women’s Finals, presented by the PBA, which will air live as part of an ESPN doubleheader on Sunday, Feb. 26, from The Orleans Bowling Center in Las Vegas. The WBT Finals will immediately follow the ESPN telecast of the USBC Masters finals.

Larsen was the points leader in PBA International-World Bowling Tour men’s qualifying in 2016, earning 146 points to nip Anthony Simonsen of Austin, Texas (142), and Marshall Kent of Yakima, Wash. (133). Sweden’s Jesper Svensson finished fourth with 128 points and Australia’s Jason Belmonte was fifth with 125 points.

McEwan led the women’s points race with 230, comfortably ahead of Colombia’s Anggie Ramirez (158) and Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga, N.Y. (100). Summer Jasmin of Beckley, W.Va., was fourth with 80 points and Venezuela’s Ingelimar Beasley, now living in Clarksville, Tenn., was fifth with 70 points.

The WBT Finals will pay the winners $20,000. Second place is $10,000 and third pays $5,000.

ENTRIES OPEN FOR FIRELAKE PBA TOC, BARBASOL PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP

Entries are now being accepted for the 2017 Barbasol PBA Players Championship, Feb. 6-12 at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl in Columbus, Ohio, and the 2017 FireLake PBA Tournament of Champions, Feb. 13-19 at FireLake Bowling Center in Shawnee, Okla.

To enter the PBA Players Championship, use the online system at pba.com. The entry fee is $500. The tournament is limited to a field of 138 PBA members.

The TOC will include a field of 96 players of which 72 are reserved for PBA Tour title holders. An additional 24 PBA Regional, PBA50, PWBA-PBA Women’s Regional and/or PBA Women’s Series champions will qualify during a special TOC Regional event that will precede the TOC.

PBA members planning to compete in the TOC must have a confirmed reservation at the Grand Casino Hotel & Resort at the time of entry; please be sure to include your reservation number with your entry. The rate of $109 for a single or double occupancy is available by calling (405) 964-7777 and using the code 1702102107 or at www.GrandShawnee.com (enter the code under “Group Code").

Eligible PBA Tour champions who want to participate must submit their entries by no later than Friday, Jan. 13 at 5 p.m. ET. Spots reserved for PBA Tour title holders that are not filled will be added to the spots coming out of the Regional Qualifier. To enter the TOC, contact PBA Tournament Entries Coordinator Mary von Krueger (email: maryvk@pba.com; phone: (206) 332-9688).

QUBICA AMF PBA REGIONAL UPDATE: WILLIAMS, LANE, ALLEN WIN TRIOS EVENT

PBA60 competitor Dennis Lane, PBA Tour champion Dick Allen and PBA Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr. defeated Ken Parks, Dale Csuhta and Kyle Troup, 213-201, to win the PBA South Region’s Decker Appraisal PBA/PBA50/PBA60 Baker Trios event presented by Hammer at Valley Lanes in Harrisonburg, Va., Sunday.

Williams, in the PBA50 role, struck in the 10th frame to seal the victory and pick up his 11th PBA50 Regional title to go along with his record 47 PBA Tour titles, 32 PBA Regional titles and 10 PBA50 Tour titles for a composite total of 100 PBA titles. Williams had been tied with fellow PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber with 99 combined titles until Sunday.

This was the third time the PBA South Region hosted the multi-age trio event, but the first time it was hosted by Valley Lanes. Each member of the winning team earned a $1,700 share of the $5,100 first prize.

In the first stepladder match, Lane, Williams and Allen defeated the team of Ross McDonald, Thad Rand and Richie Wolfe from Rapidan, Va., 218-168, to advance to the title match.

● Past U.S. Open champions Robert Lawrence of Austin, Texas, and Wes Malott from Pflugerville, Texas, teamed up to dominate the fourth annual PBA50/PBA Houston Emerald Bowl Southwest Doubles, presented by Bowling Dynamix, Sunday, winning by 675 pins over Jay Nephew of Houston and his partner, D.J. Archer from Spring, Texas.

The winning duo led the eight-game qualifying portion of the event by 68 pins and then charged into a commanding lead in the 12-game round-robin match play finals, crushing their first four opponents with team games of 509, 492, 509 and 488 and they never looked back. They swept all 12 matches as they cruised to the $5,000 winners’ check and Lawrence’s first regional title in 24 years.

Nephew and Archer held on to second place with 9,625 pins, safely ahead of defending champions Pete Thomas of Oklahoma City and Anthony Lavery-Spahr of Pasadena, Texas.

● QubicaAMF PBA Regional competition in the new year gets underway over the Jan. 20-22 weekend at South Point Bowling Plaza in Las Vegas with the South Point West Challenge for non-champions, and the South Point member/non-member doubles, both presented by Track. The PBA Central Region also returns to action with the PBA/PBA50 Don Vay Memorial Central Doubles Classic at Legend Lanes in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

● The Jan. 27-29 weekend includes the PBA and PBA50 Sands Regency West/Northwest Winter Classic doubleheader presented by Storm at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev. The weekend also will include a Sands Regency West/Northwest Winter Challenge event for non-champions.

● For complete QubicaAMF PBA Regional schedules, rules and entry information heading into the new year, visit pba.com, open the “schedules” tab and click on QubicaAMF Regional Tours to find the event(s) in your area. For more information about QubicaAMF, visit www.qubicaamf.com or, for social media posts, visit http://bit.ly/QAMFSponsorship1.

QUICK NOTES:

● Don’t forget: everyone age 18 or older who plays PBA Bowling Challenge Mobile Game by Dec. 26 is invited to participate in a special sweepstakes being conducted by PBA Cheetah Championship presenting sponsor Concrete Software, the creator of the PBA Bowling Challenge game. To enter the PBA “Cheetah” Bowling Challenge, when you launch the game, go into the “venue” section and look for the PBA Cheetah Championship. Then bowl your one game. If you beat the 279 bowled by Cheetah winner Mike Wolfe, you’ll be eligible to win special prizes, including a special PBA bowling pin autographed by the winner.

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World’s Best Bowlers Ready to Invade Reno for GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling VIII Nov. 27-Dec. 11

by Bill Vint November 11, 2016 04:09

CHICAGO – For the eighth consecutive year, the world’s best bowlers are gearing up for a dramatic conclusion of the season as they prepare to invade Reno, Nev., for the GEICO Professional Bowlers Association World Series of Bowling VIII, presented by Silver Legacy Resort and Casino, Nov. 27-Dec. 11.

With five PBA Tour titles on the line to conclude a year that has seen bowling history re-written at every major championship contested to date, the live telecast of the PBA World Championship on Sunday, Dec. 11, from Reno’s National Bowling Stadium should provide a fitting ending to a memorable year.

Among the highlights thus far in the 2016 season:

● In the first event of 2016, Anthony Simonsen became the second-youngest player to win a PBA Tour title, missing Norm Duke’s record by two days. Simonsen was 18 years, 347 days old at the time.

● In the second event of the year, Venezuela’s Amleto Monacelli won the DHC PBA Japan Invitational at age 54, becoming the fourth-oldest ever to win a PBA Tour title.

● Next, eight days shy of his 21st birthday, Jesper Svensson of Sweden became the youngest to win the FireLake PBA Tournament of Champions.

● A week later, Simonsen – now 19 – became the youngest ever to win a PBA major when he won the USBC Masters.

● Seven days later, Graham Fach won the Barbasol PBA Players Championship to become the first Canadian to win a PBA Tour title.

● In November, Francois Lavoie won the U.S. Open, bowling the first nationally-televised 300 game in U.S. Open history, to become the second Canadian to win a PBA Tour title.

● During the PBA Fall Classic at South Point Bowling Plaza in Las Vegas, 22-year-old Jakob Butturff won the Xtra Frame South Point Las Vegas Open, joining Ryan Ciminelli as the only two-time title winners in the seven-event 2016 PBA Xtra Frame Tour, but veteran Tommy Jones won a $10,000 winner-take-all bonus as the top all-around performer in the special XF series of events.

After his record-breaking start to the year, Svensson tacked on two more titles to become the first player to win five PBA Tour titles by age 21 and set in motion an intense PBA Player of the Year race that will carry into WSOB VIII. Svensson is being pursued by two-time 2016 title winners Ryan Ciminelli, EJ Tackett, Sean Rash (who won both of his titles in the PBA Fall Swing) and Jakob Butturff. And Canadian rookies Fach and Lavoie are battling at the head of the PBA Rookie of the Year race – an award won by international players only two other times in PBA history (Australia’s Jason Belmonte in 2009 and Sweden’s Svensson in 2015).

Keep in mind, however, that the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling – the richest event in bowling with more than $750,000 in prize money – has a way of ignoring trends.

The four animal pattern events – Cheetah Championship presented by PBA Bowling Challenge Mobile Game, Chameleon Championship presented by HotelPlanner.com, Scorpion Championship presented by Reno Tahoe USA and the Shark Championship – often produce unexpected champions. In 2015, Jon Van Hees won the Scorpion Championship for his first PBA Tour title. Six other players made ESPN finals for the first time in their careers in the animal pattern events. Gary Faulkner Jr. won the 2015 PBA World Championship, and Simonsen teamed with Connor Pickford to win the Mark Roth/Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship, all for their first titles.

That has been a common theme since the WSOB was created in 2009. In the ensuing years, the WSOB has become the international showcase for bowlers, attracting bowlers from 37 different countries and making PBA Tour champions out of players from Australia, Colombia, England, Finland, South Korea and Sweden.

The World Series of Bowling has not only attracted bowlers from around the globe, but the introduction of Xtra Frame – PBA’s online video-streaming service that provides hundreds of hours of live coverage of WSOB competition – has given bowling fans an opportunity to watch their home-country favorites in competition on the sport’s most visible stage.

Expect nothing different in 2016, when bowlers from more than 20 countries descend on Reno. There will be a few subtle changes to enhance the event (the World Series has been in a constant evolution to remain fresh and vibrant), such as the return of the Shark Championship – contested on a 43-foot application of oil – in place of the Viper pattern, to provide a different challenge. Updated lane surfaces inside the National Bowling Stadium also are expected to change the way balls react on the lanes.

In 2016, the top 24 qualifiers in each of the animal pattern championships will advance to best-of-five-game match play elimination rounds to give players a more diverse path to the ESPN finals in each event. But like years past, the animal pattern events will also serve as “stages” to advance to the main event – the PBA World Championship – similar in concept to the way world-class bicycle racers advance to the podium in the famous Tour de France.

Eight games each on the Cheetah, Chameleon, Scorpion and Shark qualifying stages will serve as the 32-game qualifying phase of the PBA World Championship. An additional six-game cashers round for the top 25 percent of the field will determine the 24 players who will then bowl 24 games of round-robin match play to determine the five players who will bowl for the $60,000 first prize in the final major championship of the year, live on ESPN on Sunday, Dec. 11 at 1 p.m. Eastern (10 a.m. local time).

The carrot-at-the-end-of-the-stick in the animal pattern championships is that all four of them include a $20,000 first prize, a chance to bowl on ESPN and a PBA Tour title for each winner. So consider it “qualifying on steroids.”

That’s not all. WSOB VIII will get underway on Sunday, Nov. 27, when eight PBA Regional, eight PBA-PWBA Women’s Regional and eight PBA50 Tour players will compete in special PBA Challenge events - eight-game match play events video-streamed live on Xtra Frame. Those players, who earned their berths in season-long points competitions, will then bowl in the World Series.

Another bonus feature, reviving a special event held in 2010 and 2012, will be the USA vs. The World team showdown. Based on the same 32-game pinfall totals used in PBA World Championship qualifying, the top five American players and the top five international bowlers will advance to the team event which will be contested after the PBA World Championship telecast on Dec. 11 for delayed broadcast on ESPN on Sunday, Jan. 8, at 1 p.m. ET.

Bottom line, the world’s most expensive and dedicated bowling facility – Reno’s 21-year-old National Bowling Stadium – will once again be at the center of the bowling universe for two solid weeks. Grassroots bowlers in and around northern Nevada and California will have an opportunity to bowl with the greatest stars in the sport during the annual WSOB Pro-Am on Saturday, Dec. 3 (call the National Bowling Stadium at 800-304-2695 for details).

The Dec. 10-11 weekend will feature six ESPN television finals. An all-day pass to watch the Cheetah, Chameleon, Scorpion and Shark Championship finals on Saturday, starting at noon, is available for $20. An all-day pass for the live PBA World Championship finals on Sunday at 10 a.m. followed by the USA vs. The World special team match is available for $15, and will include a free hotdog and beer/soft drink for the first 200 through the door. TV tickets can be purchased at pba.com/tickets.

That’s about all, except for the occasional “surprise.” In previous World Series, devoted bowlers such as Sirius radio star Howard Stern’s engineer, Scott Salem, bowled. So did NFL superstar Terrell Owens. Last year, Boston Red Sox outfield Mookie Betts made his professional bowling debut.

That’s what makes the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling great. You never know what’s going to happen…

PBA WORLD SERIES OF BOWLING VIII SCHEDULE
National Bowling Stadium, Reno, Nev., Nov. 27-Dec. 11 (all times are Pacific)

Sunday, Nov. 27
3 p.m. – PBA Regional, PBA-PWBA Women’s Regional and PBA50 Tour Challenge, 8 games round-robin match play (top two in each division advance to Xtra Frame finals)
6:30 p.m. – PBA-PWBA Women’s Regional Challenge Xtra Frame championship match (live on Xtra Frame)
7 p.m. – PBA50 Tour Challenge Xtra Frame championship match (live on Xtra Frame)
7:30 p.m. – PBA Regional Challenge Xtra Frame championship match (live on Xtra Frame)

Monday, Nov. 28
10 a.m. – A Squad practice session (Cheetah, Chameleon, Scorpion and Shark lane conditions)
2:30 p.m. - B Squad practice session (Cheetah, Chameleon, Scorpion and Shark lane conditions)
6 p.m. – Mandatory PBA WSOB VIII players meeting

Tuesday, Nov. 29
9 a.m. – Cheetah Championship – A Squad 8 qualifying games
4 p.m. - Cheetah Championship – B Squad 8 qualifying games
    (Top 24 advance to best-of-five-game single-elimination match play on Tuesday, Dec. 6; top 8 qualifiers earn one round bye)

Wednesday, Nov. 30
9 a.m. – Chameleon Championship – A Squad 8 qualifying games
4 p.m. – Chameleon Championship – B Squad 8 qualifying games
    (Top 24 advance to best-of-five-game single-elimination match play on Tuesday, Dec. 6; top 8 qualifiers earn one round bye)

Thursday, Dec. 1
9 a.m. – Scorpion Championship – B Squad 8 qualifying games
4 p.m. - Scorpion Championship – A Squad 8 qualifying games
    (Top 24 advance to best-of-five-game single-elimination match play on Wednesday, Dec. 7; top 8 qualifiers earn one round bye)

Friday, Dec. 2
9 a.m. – Shark Championship – B Squad 8 qualifying games
4 p.m. – Shark Championship – A Squad 8 qualifying games
    (Top 24 advance to best-of-five-game single-elimination match play on Wednesday, Dec. 7; top 8 qualifiers earn one round bye)
    (Top 25 percent of field based on 32-game combined qualifying totals from Cheetah, Chameleon, Scorpion and Shark championships advance to PBA World Championship cashers round)

Saturday, Dec. 3
6-9 p.m. – Pro-am

Sunday, Dec. 4
11 a.m. – PBA World Championship cashers round, 6 games
    (Top 24 based on 38 games advance to round-robin match play)
5:30 p.m. - PBA World Championship, 8 games round-robin match play

Monday, Dec. 5
11 a.m. - PBA World Championship, 8 games round-robin match play
5:30 p.m. - PBA World Championship, 8 games round-robin match play
    (Top five after 62 games of qualifying and match play advance to ESPN finals)

Tuesday, Dec. 6
10 a.m. – Cheetah Championship, qualifiers 9-24, best-of-five-game single elimination match play
1 p.m. - Cheetah Championship, qualifiers 1-8 plus 10 a.m. winners, best-of-five-game single elimination match play
    (Winners advance to Round of 8 on Thursday, Dec. 8)
4:30 p.m. – Chameleon Championship, qualifiers 9-24, best-of-five-game single elimination match play
7:30 p.m. – Chameleon Championship, qualifiers 1-8 plus 4:30 p.m. winners, best-of-five-game single elimination match play
    (Winners advance to Round of 8 on Thursday, Dec. 8)

Wednesday, Dec. 7
10 a.m. – Scorpion Championship, qualifiers 9-24, best-of-five-game single elimination match play
1 p.m. - Scorpion Championship, qualifiers 1-8 plus 10 a.m. winners, best-of-five-game single elimination match play
    (Winners advance to Round of 8 on Thursday, Dec. 8)
4:30 p.m. – Shark Championship, qualifiers 9-24, best-of-five-game single elimination match play
7:30 p.m. – Shark Championship, qualifiers 1-8 plus 4:30 p.m. winners, best-of-five-game single elimination match play
    (Winners advance to Round of 8 on Thursday, Dec. 8)

Thursday, Dec. 8
10 a.m. – Cheetah Championship Round of 8, best-of-five-game single elimination match play
    (Four winners advance to ESPN match play finals)
1 p.m. – Chameleon Championship Round of 8, best-of-five-game single elimination match play
    (Four winners advance to ESPN match play finals)
4:30 p.m. – Scorpion Championship Round of 8, best-of-five-game single elimination match play
    (Four winners advance to ESPN match play finals)
7:30 p.m. – Shark Championship Round of 8, best-of-five-game single elimination match play
    (Four winners advance to ESPN match play finals)

Friday, Dec. 9
    No competition (television setup day)

Saturday, Dec. 10
Noon – Cheetah Championship presented by PBA Bowling Challenge Mobile Game match play semifinals and finals (airs on ESPN on Dec. 18, 1 p.m. ET)
2:30 p.m. – Chameleon Championship presented by HotelPlanner.com match play semifinals and finals (airs on ESPN on Dec. 24, 1 p.m. ET)
4:15 p.m. – Scorpion Championship presented by Reno Tahoe USA match play semifinals and finals (airs on ESPN on Dec. 25, 2:30 p.m. ET)
6 p.m. – Shark Championship match play semifinals and finals (airs on ESPN on Dec. 25, 3:30 p.m. ET)

Sunday, Dec. 11
10 a.m. – Live ESPN stepladder finals, PBA World Championship (10 a.m. Pacific; 1 p.m. Eastern; re-airs on ESPN on Jan. 1, 4 p.m. ET)
1:30 p.m. – USA vs. The World Team match (airs on ESPN on Jan. 8, 1 p.m. ET)

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