Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions Milestones

by Jerry Schneider March 20, 2013 02:55


As the 2012-13 PBA Tour season heads toward the midway point, all eyes will be on PBA’s signature tournament when the 48th Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions will be contested for the first time at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis March 27-31.

Here’s a look at some of the milestone moments in TOC history:

1962 – The first PBA Tournament of Champions was contested in 1962 at Play Bowl in Indianapolis, Ind., and was won by Joe Joseph of Lansing, Mich. Joseph won the inaugural event in the two-game, three-player final with 480, followed by Billy Golembiewski, 416, and Carmen Salvino third with 409. Joseph won a $15,000 first prize from the $50,000 prize fund.

1965 – The event was not contested again until 1965 when it moved to Bowlarama in Akron, Ohio, and Firestone’s long-running sponsorship made it possible for the event to be conducted annually. Firestone’s involvement was one of the first and longest-running sport sponsorships by a corporation lasting 28 years. Firestone also became one of the first companies to have titled-event sponsorship on a nationally-televised sports event, launching a new era in sports marketing.

PBA Hall of Famer Billy Hardwick won the event and according to a Sports Illustrated article by Joe Jares following the event, Hardwick’s $25,000 prize check was $5,000 more than Jack Nicklaus won for winning golf’s Masters that year.

1966 – The event moved to Riviera Lanes in the Akron suburb of Fairlawn, Ohio, where it would remain through 1994.

1967 – Jack Biondolillo bowled the PBA’s first nationally-televised 300 game in a match against Les Schissler. Biondolillo finished third in the event.

1970 – One of the great images in sports was Don Johnson sprawled out on the approach after leaving a 10 pin on the final shot of the championship match when he defeated Dick Ritger, 299-268.

1973 – Jim Godman became the first player to win the event twice (1969 & 1973).

1975 – PBA inducted its first Hall of Fame class (Ray Bluth, Don Carter, Dick Weber, Billy Welu, Harry Smith, Carmen Salvino, Frank Esposito and Chuck Pezzano) in ceremonies during TOC week.

1984 – Mike Durbin, who lived in the nearby Cleveland suburb of Chagrin Falls, became the first player to win the TOC three times (1972, 1982 & 1984).

1987 – Hall of Famer Pete Weber won the PBA Tournament of Champions, a tournament his legendary father, Dick Weber, never won.

1991 – Second-seeded David Ozio overcame the distraction of a 40-minute bomb threat delay from a crank call to defeat Amleto Monacelli, 236-203, for the Firestone Tournament of Champions crown at Riviera Lanes. It was Ozio’s ninth PBA title and third of the year.

1993 – George Branham III of Indianapolis became the first (and only) African-American to win the TOC. Branham was also the first African-American to win a PBA Tour title winning titles in 1986 and 1987.

1994 – Norm Duke won the last TOC contested at Riviera Lanes.

1995 – Brunswick picked up sponsorship of the event (and remained as sponsor through 2000) and moved it to the Chicago suburb of Lake Zurich, with an arena finals at Harper College in nearby Palatine, Ill. Mike Aulby won the event to become the first player to complete the PBA’s “Grand Slam” (wins in the TOC, USBC Masters, PBA National/World Championship and U.S. Open).

1997-2000 – The event moved to Reno (1997), Overland Park, Kan. (1998 & 1999) and then back to Lake Zurich, Ill. (2000).

2002 – After a one-year hiatus, the event returned to Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., where it remained through 2007. In 2002, Jason Couch became the first and only player to win the TOC three consecutive times (1999, 2000 & 2002, no event held in 2001) and joined Mike Durbin as the event’s only three-time winners.

2008-2012 – Event moved to Red Rock Lanes in Las Vegas.

2010 – Kelly Kulick of Union, N.J., made sports history by winning the TOC in Las Vegas, becoming the first woman to win a PBA Tour title.

2011 – Eligibility for the event was expanded to include all PBA champions (national tour, senior tour and regionals). The TOC also returned to the ABC Network and its original Saturday afternoon timeslot for the first time in 14 years. Mika Koivuniemi won the record $250,000 first prize from the $1 million prize fund by defeating Tom Smallwood in the championship match 269-207. Koivuniemi also rolled a 299 in the semifinal match for a PBA-record 199-pin margin of victory over Tom Daugherty, who bowled a 100 game, the lowest score ever in a PBA televised match.

2012 – Sean Rash wins Tournament of Champions at Red Rock for his second major and fifth career Tour title which turned out to be the defining moment in capturing his first PBA Player of the Year honor.

2013 – After a 51-year absence, the TOC returned to its birthplace (Indianapolis) and the TOC returned to its traditional roots with an exclusive field of PBA Tour champions.


Jason Couch 3 (1999, 2000 & 2002)

Mike Durbin 3 (1972, 1982 & 1984)

Dave Davis 2 (1968 & 1975)

Jim Godman 2 (1969 & 1973)

Earl Anthony 2 (1974 & 1978)

Marshall Holman 2 (1976 & 1986)

Mark Williams 2 (1985 & 1988)

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