PBA Spare Shots: FireLake PBA TOC Draws Nearly One Million ESPN Viewers

by Bill Vint February 11, 2016 09:05

The FireLake PBA Tournament of Champions averaged 981,000 viewers on Sunday on ESPN, the highest rated PBA telecast of the 2015-16 ESPN season to date. It also posted a 17 percent increase over last year’s Tournament of Champions audience.

The 2016 event kicked off a “Big February” series of three straight weeks of live PBA major championships coverage on ESPN. The February series continues with the USBC Masters finals this Sunday at 1 pm EST from Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis, followed by the Barbasol PBA Players Championship final on Sunday, Feb. 21 at 1 p.m. EST from Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl in Columbus, Ohio.

BARBASOL PBA PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP NEXT UP ON XTRA FRAME’S SCHEDULE

Xtra Frame’s exclusive live coverage of the 2016 USBC Masters continues thru Saturday with qualifying (Tuesday-Thursday) and three-game double-elimination match play rounds (Friday-Saturday) from Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis before heading to Columbus, Ohio, for coverage of the Barbasol PBA Players Championship.

Players Championship coverage begins Tuesday, Feb. 16, with first-round qualifying squads at 9 a.m. ET (A Squad) and 4 p.m. (B Squad). The two squads will reserve starting times Wednesday, leading into the Thursday 10 a.m. cashers round. Eight-game match play rounds for the top 24 will be covered Thursday at 5 p.m., and Friday at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

ESPN’s live coverage of “Big February” will continues with the USBC Masters at 1 p.m. ET this Sunday followed by the Barbasol PBA Players Championship finals at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 21.

Xtra Frame subscription options include a three-day (72-hour) subscription for $3.99; a 30-day package for $7.99, and the 12-month XF Season Ticket for $64.99. To sign up, visit pba.com and click on the Xtra Frame link. New subscribers are automatically entered into monthly sweepstakes drawings for new high-performance bowling balls sponsored by MOTIV and DV8.

PBA REGIONAL UPDATE: DeSTASIO WINS PBA SOUTH CHALLENGE

Anthony DeStasio of Coral Springs, Fla., defeated Steve Johnson of Coral Springs, Fla., 226-216, to win the fourth annual PBA Tavares South Challenge title at Breakpoint Alley in Tavares, Fla., Sunday.

DeStasio, a non-member, had decided he would join the PBA if he cashed in this event - which he did in grand fashion, taking home the $1,900 first prize – but he lost his chance to claim his first PBA title because titles aren’t awarded to non-members. PBA Challenge tournaments are open only to players who have never won a PBA title.

● The Feb. 19-21 weekend includes two PBA Regionals, in the South and West Regions. Paradise Lanes in Spartanburg, S.C., will host the PBA50 Dave Edwards Toyota South Open presented by 900 Global, and Gold Country Lanes in Sutter Creek, Calif., will host the Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort Championship.

● Kicking off a busy March schedule over the March 4-6 weekend will be the PBA50 Victory Lanes Central Open presented by 900 Global in Galion, Ohio; the Lakewood Holiday Lanes Southwest Open presented by Storm in Lakewood, Colo.; the PBA50 Monte Skeels Allstate Midwest Open presented by Brunswick at Liberty Lanes in Carpentersville, and the Caveman Bowl Northwest/West Open presented by DV8 in Grants Pass. Ore.

● The only regional activity over the March 13 weekend is the one-day PBA50 Thunderbowl Midwest Open presented by Columbia 300 in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

● A busy regional schedule over the March 18-20 weekend includes the PBA50 Fayetteville South Open at Lafayette Lanes in Fayetteville, N.C.; the Odessa Southwest Open presented by Columbia 300 at Astro Bowl in Odessa, Texas; the PBA50 Showtime Lanes Midwest/Central Open presented by DV8 in Virden, Ill.; the PBA50 Rossi Lanes Eastern Open in Elmira, N.Y., and the Trumbull County Tourism Bureau Central/East Open presented by Radical at Bell-Wick Bowl in Hubbard, Ohio.

● The March regional calendar concludes over the March 25-27 weekend with the Cooperfield Bowl Houston Challenge presented by 900 Global in Houston, Texas; the South Point West Challenge and Member/Non-Member Doubles, both presented by Track, at South Point Bowling Center in Las Vegas.

For complete PBA Regional schedules, rules and entry information, visit pba.com, open the “schedules” tab and click on Regional Tours to find the event(s) in your area.

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2016 Barbasol PBA Players Championship Returns to Major Title Status

by Bill Vint February 11, 2016 04:14

COLUMBUS, Ohio – On the heels of its strongest television ratings in a decade in 2015, the Professional Bowlers Association will return one of its storied franchises to major title status next week when Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl hosts the 2016 Barbasol PBA Players Championship.

The third-and-final live telecast in PBA’s “Big February” series will air live on ESPN on Sunday, Feb. 21, at 1 p.m. ET.

The PBA Players Championship, which originated in 1984 and ran continuously through 2000, was suspended while PBA’s new ownership began revamping the PBA at the turn of the century. After watching PBA’s viewership ratings on ESPN surge by 17 percent during the 2015 season, having quality Sunday afternoon time slots for live coverage on ESPN, and the sponsorship of Barbasol in the company’s backyard, PBA CEO and Commissioner Tom Clark decided it was time to return the popular event to the PBA Tour schedule.

The 2016 Barbasol PBA Players Championship will include a demanding 48-game qualifying and match play format, and a five-player stepladder final with a $40,000 first prize. All of the preliminary rounds of Players Championship week will be covered live for PBA fans around the world who subscribe to PBA’s exclusive Xtra Frame online video-streaming service.

The Barbasol partnership brings the PBA event close to the company’s headquarters and manufacturing facilities. Perio Inc., the parent company of Barbasol LLC, is located in Dublin, a suburb of Columbus, and the company’s Barbasol products are manufactured in Ashland, Ohio.

The third consecutive major championship of the 2016 season will follow the FireLake PBA Tournament of Champions, won by 20-year-old Swedish two-handed star Jesper Svensson, PBA’s 2015 Rookie of the Year, in Shawnee, Okla., last Sunday. The United States Bowling Congress Masters will be decided this Sunday in Indianapolis. ESPN’s USBC Masters live coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET.

The Players Championship will get underway on Monday, Feb. 15, with practice and a celebrity pro-am at Columbus Bowl, which is co-owned by PBA Hall of Famer Wayne Webb. Eight-game qualifying rounds will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by an eight-game cashers round on Thursday, and three eight-game round-robin match play rounds Thursday and Friday. Additional pro-am squads that provide an opportunity for Ohio grassroots adult, youth and senior league bowlers to bowl alongside the pros will be conducted on Saturday, leading up to Sunday’s live ESPN finals.

The tournament is open exclusively to PBA members, and has served as a stepping stone toward induction into the PBA Hall of Fame for a number of players, including past winners Walter Ray Williams Jr. (1994), Pete Weber (1992), Amleto Monacelli (1989) and defending champion Parker Bohn III (2015) who are still active and among the more than 100 players already entered.

Other Hall of Fame winners who are no longer active include Mark Roth in the inaugural event (1984), Dave Husted (1985), Mark Williams (1986), Dave Ferraro (1988 and 1991), Jason Couch (1993), Ernie Schlegel (1995) and Mike Aulby (1996). Schlegel was the oldest player to win the Players Championship at 52 years, 212 days in 1995; Jason Couch was the youngest winner when he won in 1993 at age 23 years, 362 days.

2016 BARBASOL PBA PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl, Columbus, Ohio, Feb. 15-21 (times listed are Eastern)

Monday, Feb. 15
Noon – Official practice session
7 p.m. – Celebrity pro-am

Tuesday, Feb. 16
9 a.m. – Squad A, 8 qualifying games
4 p.m. – Squad B, 8 qualifying games

Wednesday, Feb. 17
9 a.m. – Squad B, 8 qualifying games
4 p.m. –Squad A, 8 qualifying games
            Top one-fourth of the field after 16 games advance to cashers’ round

Thursday, Feb. 18
10 a.m. – Cashers’ round, 8 games
            Top 24 after 24 games advance to round-robin match play
5 p.m. – Top 24, 8 games match play

Friday, Feb. 19
10 a.m. – Top 24, 8 games match play
5 p.m. – Top 24, 8 games match play
            Top 5 after 48 games advance to ESPN stepladder finals

Saturday, Feb. 20
3:30 p.m.– Adult and Young pro-am squad
6 p.m. – Adult pro-am squad

Sunday, Feb. 21
1 p.m. – Top 5 ESPN stepladder finals

HISTORY OF PBA PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP WINNERS
2015 – Parker Bohn III
2013 – Scott Norton
2011 – Jason Belmonte
2000 – Dennis Horan Jr.
1999 – Steve Hoskins
1998 – Dennis Horan Jr.
1997 – Steve Hoskins
1996 – Mike Aulby
1995 – Ernie Schlegel
1994 – Walter Ray Williams Jr.
1993 – Jason Couch
1992 – Pete Weber
1991 – Dave Ferraro
1990 – Duane Fisher
1989 – Amleto Monacelli
1988 – Dave Ferraro
1987 – Tom Crites
1986 – Mark Williams
1985 – Dave Husted
1984 – Mark Roth

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Retired Air Force Veteran Mitch Beasley Wins No. 1 Berth for FireLake PBA Tournament of Champions Finals

by Bill Vint February 5, 2016 14:39

SHAWNEE, Okla.  – Retired U.S. Air Force veteran Mitch Beasley of Clarksville, Tenn., will make a bid for his first Professional Bowlers Association major title Sunday as top qualifier in the 51st FireLake PBA Tournament of Champions after dominating match play Friday at FireLake Bowling Center.

Beasley, a 47-year-old right-hander, won all 13 of his final 14 matches Friday, and tied the other one, to advance from third place to first, finishing with a 48-game total of 11,559 pins. Beasley has never finished higher than fourth in a PBA Tour event, but he has won 20 PBA titles, including at least two titles in six of the PBA’s seven domestic regions where he was based during his 20-year military career. Beasley served as a crew chief on C130s and recruiter for the U.S. Air Force.

“I retired on Jan. 1, 2008, and left the next day to bowl on Tour.”

On Sunday, he will face the player who emerges from three preliminary matches in a one-game duel for the $50,000 first prize. Also qualifying for Sunday’s ESPN stepladder finals were 2015 PBA Rookie of the Year Jesper Svensson of Sweden, a left-handed two-hander who turns 21 on Feb. 15; two-time defending champion Jason Belmonte of Australia; 2013 PBA Rookie of the Year EJ Tackett of Huntington, Ind., and one-time PBA Tour winner Tom Daugherty of Riverview, Fla., who is best known for the 100 game he bowled against eventual winner Mika Koivuneimi in the 2011 Tournament of Champions finals.

Daugherty will bowl Tackett, a two-time runner-up in major championships, in the first match. The winner will try to end Belmonte’s bid for a record-tying third consecutive TOC title in match two. The match two winner bowls Svensson in the semifinal match for the right to meet Beasley in the title contest.

For Beasley, Friday’s final round was the best performance of his career.

“I made four changes to my game two weeks ago. I was really focused on the changes and make good shots and let the ball tell me what to do,” he said. “I felt the pressure, but I was just trying to make the shots I needed to make.

“I missed my best years as an athlete while I was in the Air Force, so when you have the opportunity, you have to take advantage of it,” he added. “When I started bowling on Tour, I got hurt twice, once with a shattered wrist and then I missed a couple of years with hip and back injuries, so about half of my time, I’ve been hurt. It feels good to be healthy again.”

Sunday will give him a chance to realize the goal he’s always dreamed of.

“It’s every bowler’s dream to win a national title, and to have a chance to have your first title be a major, that’s the ultimate,” Beasley said. “That’s what I’ve worked for ever since the first time I picked up a bowling ball when I was 19 and in the service in Germany.”

Sunday’s live ESPN stepladder finals will be contested on a special two-lane installation inside FireLake Arena at 1 p.m. CST (2 p.m. Eastern). First prize in PBA’s first major championship of the 2016 season will be $50,000.

FIRELAKE PBA TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS

FireLake Bowling Center, Shawnee, Okla., Friday

Final Match Play Standings (after 48 games, including match play bonus pins)

1, Mitch Beasley, Clarksville, Tenn., 20-3-1, 11,559.
2, Jesper Svensson, Sweden, 14-10, 11,455.
3, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 15-9, 11,421.
4, E.J. Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 17-7, 11,300.
5, Tom Daugherty, Riverview, Fla., 15-9, 11,203.

Failed to advance

6, Dom Barrett, England, 14-9-1, 11,188, $5,500.
7, Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y., 16-8, 11,168, $5,000.
8, Kyle Troup, Taylorsville, N.C., 12-11-1, 11,088, $4,500.
9, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 12-12, 10,964, $4,000.
10, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 12-12, 10,857, $3,800.
11, Anthony Simonsen, Princeton, Texas, 11-13, 10,801, $3,600.
12, Amleto Monacelli, Venezuela, 15-9,  10,793, $3,400.
13, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 8-16, 10,774, $3,200.
14, D.J. Archer, Friendswood, Texas, 11-13, 10,747, $3,100.
15, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 7-16-1, 10,744, $3,000.
16, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, 12-12, 10,732, $2,900.
17, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 11-13, 10,654, $2,800.
18, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 10-14, 10,609, $2,700.
19, y-Jason Sterner, Covington, Ga., 9-7, 10,602, $1,850.
20, Andres Gomez, Colombia, 8-16, 10,535, $2,500.
21, Tyler Jensen, Ft. Worth, Texas, 8-16, 10,501, $2,400.
22, x-A.J. Johnson, Oswego, Ill., 10-14, 10,349, $1,850.
23, Connor Pickford, Charlotte, N.C., 7-17, 10,316, $2,300.
24, Dino Castillo, Carrollton, Texas, 8-16, 10,295, $2,200.
25, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 4-4, 7,133, $1,500.
26, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 0-0, $1,700.

x-Johnson replace Norm Duke, who withdrew due to a neck injury; y-Sterner replaced Pete Weber, who withdrew due to a hip injury.

300 Games: Anthony Simonsen, Dom Barrett.

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Svensson Leads by 32 Pins Heading into Final Round of Match Play in FireLake PBA Tournament of Champions

by Bill Vint February 5, 2016 06:48

SHAWNEE, Okla. – Sweden’s Jesper Svensson cooled off during round five of the 51st FireLake PBA Tournament of Champions, but he managed to hold onto first place heading into the final round of match play at FireLake Bowling Center Friday night.

Svensson, who turns 21 on Feb. 15, won four of his eight matches Friday morning and finished the round with a 40-game total of 9,161 pins, including 270 bonus pins for his nine match wins, as his 266-pin lead shrunk to a 32-pin lead over Tom Daugherty of Riverview, Fla., going into Friday night’s final eight games of match play. Svensson, PBA’s 2015 Rookie of the Year, won his first two PBA Tour titles last year, but is still looking for his first major title.

Daugherty finished round five with an 11-5 match play record and 9,399 pins. Mitch Beasley of Clarksville, Tenn., was third with 9,348 pins followed by EJ Tackett of Huntington, Ind., at 9,296 and two-time defending champion Jason Belmonte of Australia with a 9,284 total. Brad Angelo of Lockport, N.Y., was 54 pins behind Belmonte in the race for the five berths in Sunday’s finals.

The 24 finalists will bowl their final eight-game match play round Friday at 5 p.m. CST to determine the five finalists for Sunday’s live ESPN stepladder finals at 1 p.m. CST (2 p.m. Eastern). The finals will be held on a special two-lane installation inside FireLake Arena.

All match play rounds are being covered exclusively, live on PBA’s Xtra Frame online bowling channel. For subscription information visit pba.com and click on the Xtra Frame link.

FIRELAKE PBA TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS

FireLake Bowling Center, Shawnee, Okla., Friday

Round Five Standings (after 40 of 48 games, including match play bonus pins)

1, Jesper Svensson, Sweden, 9-7, 9,431.
2, Tom Daugherty, Riverview, Fla., 11-5, 9,399.
3, Mitch Beasley, Clarksville, Tenn., 12-3-1, 9,348.
4, E.J. Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 12-4, 9,296.
5, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 10-6, 9,284.
6, Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y., 11-5, 9,230.
7, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 8-8, 9,081.
8, Amleto Monacelli, Venezuela, 11-5, 9,076.
9, Kyle Troup, Taylorsville, N.C., 6-9-1, 9,055.
10, Dom Barrett, England, 8-7-1, 9,022.
11, Anthony Simonsen, Princeton, Texas, 8-8, 8,998.
12, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 8-8, 8,984.
13, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 4-12, 8,947.
14, Andres Gomez, Colombia, 7-9, 8,925.
15, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, 8-8, 8,902.
16, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 5-10-1, 8,881.
17, D.J. Archer, Friendswood, Texas, 7-9, 8,858.
18, Tyler Jensen, Ft. Worth, Texas, 6-10, 8,797.
19, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 6-10, 8,793.
20, y-Jason Sterner, Covington, Ga., 5-3, 8,776.
21, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 7-9., 8,712.
22, Dino Castillo, Carrollton, Texas, 6-10, 8,661.
23, x-A.J. Johnson, Oswego, Ill., 7-9, 8,524.
24, Connor Pickford, Charlotte, N.C., 4-12, 8,411.

x-Johnson replace Norm Duke, who withdrew due to a neck injury; y-Sterner replaced Pete Weber, who withdrew due to a hip injury.

300 Game: Anthony Simonsen.

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289-300 Start Propels Sweden’s Jesper Svensson into FireLake PBA Tournament of Champions Lead

by Bill Vint February 4, 2016 07:16

SHAWNEE, Okla. – Sweden’s Jesper Svensson struck on 22 of his first 23 shots Thursday morning in the 51st FireLake PBA Tournament of Champions at FireLake Bowling Center, advancing from sixth place to first, and he continued his blistering pace in match play Thursday night to build a 266-pin lead over Mitch Beasley of Clarksville, Tenn.

Svensson, a 20-year-old left-handed two-hander and PBA’s 2015 Rookie of the Year, averaged 232.1 for his first 32 games to lead the field of 24 finalists into Friday’s final two rounds of match play in the PBA’s first major championship of the year. Following games of 289 and 300, Svensson finished his morning round with games of 220, 258, 235, 213, 223 and 203. He then started Thursday night’s first round of match play with games of 267, 229, 256 and 290, winning all four matches to break away from the field.

He finished the evening round games of 213, 196 and 213 for losses, and a 238 win in his last game for a 5-3 match play record and a 32-game total of 7,624 pins, including 30 bonus pins for each match won.

“That was good,” Svensson said of his start in the evening round, “but I struggled a bit in the middle, so it was good to finish with a good game. In the middle, the urethane ball I was using got a bit shiny, and I couldn’t get as good of pin carry as when it has a fresh surface.

“But I’m happy; I didn’t expect this at all. I’m just going to have a good time and see where I finish tomorrow.”

Chasing Svensson and Beasley (7,358 pins) in the race for Sunday’s five-player stepladder finals were Tom Daugherty of Riverview, Fla., with 7,328 pins; Dom Barrett of England with a 7,317 total and EJ Tackett of Huntington, Ind., with 7,300 pins.

Australia’s Jason Belmonte, the two-time defending champion, was fifth heading into match play, but posted a 4-4 record in the opening round and slipped back to ninth place.

The 24 finalists will bowl their final two eight-game round-robin match play rounds Friday at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. CST to determine the five finalists for Sunday’s live ESPN stepladder finals at 1 p.m. CST (2 p.m. Eastern). The finals will be held on a special two-lane installation inside FireLake Arena.

All match play rounds are being covered exclusively, live on PBA’s Xtra Frame online bowling channel. For subscription information visit pba.com and click on the Xtra Frame link.

FIRELAKE PBA TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS

FireLake Bowling Center, Shawnee, Okla., Thursday

Round Four Standings (after 32 games, including match play bonus pins)

1, Jesper Svensson, Sweden, 5-3, 7,624.
2, Mitch Beasley, Clarksville, Tenn., 7-1, 7,358.
3, Tom Daugherty, Riverview, Fla., 6-2, 7,328.
4, Dom Barrett, England, 4-4, 7,315.
5, E.J. Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 6-2, 7,300.
6, Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y., 6-2, 7,292.
7, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 2-6, 7,262.
8, Kyle Troup, Taylorsville, N.C., 3-5, 7,219.
9, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 4-4, 7,212.
10, Anthony Simonsen, Princeton, Texas, 4-4, 7,178.
11, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, 5-3, 7,167.
12, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 3-5, 7,141.
13, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 5-3, 7,139.
14, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 4-4, 7,135.
15, Amleto Monacelli, Venezuela, 5-3, 7,125.
16, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 3-5, 7,110.
17, x-A.J. Johnson, Oswego, Ill., 6-2, 7,085.
18, Dino Castillo, Carrollton, Texas, 4-4, 7,044.
19, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 2-6, 7,036.
20, Tyler Jensen, Ft. Worth, Texas, 3-5, 7,014.
21, D.J. Archer, Friendswood, Texas, 2-6, 7,010.
22, Andres Gomez, Colombia, 3-5, 6,987.
23, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 3-5, 6,949.
24, Connor Pickford, Charlotte, N.C., 1-7, 6,704.

x-Johnson replace Norm Duke, who withdrew due to a neck injury.

300 Game: Jesper Svensson.

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