September 18, 2006 19:00
Tommy Jones will look to become just the second bowler in history to win three consecutive Japan Cup titles as the Dydo Japan Cup 2006 begins Wednesday in Tokyo.
The 22nd Japan Cup gets underway in just hours, with qualifying beginning at 9 a.m. on Wednesday in Tokyo (8 p.m. ET Tuesday night). The PBA has sent 20 of its biggest stars to compete against the top bowlers in Japan and Korea.
Tokyo has become a very special place for Jones, who has appeared in the last three Japan Cup title matches. The 27-year-old lost to Chris Barnes in 2003, but has since reeled off two consecutive victories, the first in 2004 marking his first ever PBA title.
Last season, Jones won five matches en route to the title, defeating Norm Duke in the title match at the Tokyo Metro Gymnasium. Qualifying and match play this season will take place at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel Bowling Center with the nine-bowler finals again taking place at the Tokyo Metro Gymnasium.
Festivities kicked off Tuesday with the annual Dydo Japan Cup Press Conference, where Jones was given his portrait created in honor of his Dydo Japan Cup 2005 victory.
Jones is one of just four bowlers to have won multiple Japan Cup titles (Bohn, Amleto Monacelli and Pete Weber are the others) while Bohn owns a record four Japan Cup crowns. The lefty captured an unprecedented three titles in a row from 1998-2000.
Other former champions taking part in this year’s event are Barnes (2003), Doug Kent (1997), Robert Smith (2002) and Williams (1991). Williams will be looking to break Earl Anthony’s all-time Tour titles record this week. The Ocala, Fla., resident is the only American bowler who has participated in all 22 Japan Cup events.
A bowler familiar with records is all-time Japan Professional Bowling Association titlist Junichi Yajima. Yajima, who like Williams owns 41 titles (JPBA), will be looking to win his first Japan Cup title. Just two Japanese bowlers have won the event, Ken Taniguchi who won the first Japan Cup in 1985 and Takeo Sakai (1988), who will also be participating this week.
Jones will be the man to beat, however, as he has made the season-opening event his personal statement each of the last two years. Each time the victory has propelled him to another three titles on Tour. A third Japan Cup title and another four wins in 2006-07, and Jones will be putting his name alongside some of the greatest of all time.
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