Through two qualifying rounds in the USBC Masters at Brunswick Zone Carolier in North Brunswick, N.J., PBA Hall of Famer Johnny Petraglia – at age 66 – was in position to re-write the PBA Tour and USBC Masters record books. After completing 10 of 15 qualifying games Wednesday, the Jackson, N.J., resident was averaging 223-plus which put him in great position to be among the 64 players who will advance to the three-game, double-elimination match play portion of the tournament.
The final five-game qualifying round will be held Thursday; match play begins Friday, leading to the live ESPN stepladder finals on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET.
Petraglia, who turns 67 on March 3, is on a short list of players (Pete Weber, Chris Barnes) who would complete the PBA Grand Slam with a Masters victory. Petraglia completed the PBA Triple Crown when he won the 1971 Tournament of Champions, 1977 U.S. Open and 1980 PBA World Championship.
If he were to win the Masters, Petraglia also would become – by far – the oldest Masters champion, and the oldest player ever to win a PBA Tour title. The Masters distinction is held by Ernie Schlegel, who won the event in 1996 at age 53. The oldest to win a PBA Tour title was John Handegard, who won the 1995 Northwest Classic in Kennewick, Wash., at age 57 years, 139 days.
With a Masters title, Petraglia also would set a record for most years between PBA major and standard PBA Tour titles (34 years). The majors record is held by Parker Bohn III who went 12 years between his 2001 PBA World Championship title and his 2013 PBA World Championship victory. The Tour record is 14 years, 175 days, by Jack Jurek (1995 Tums Classic in Windsor Locks, Conn., and 2009 Shark Championship in Allen Park, Mich.)
Petraglia’s extraordinary performance comes after a heart attack last fall that resulted in an angioplasty-and-stent procedure to clear a severe blockage. In 2012, Petraglia won the PBA50 Tour’s Daytona Classic to become the only player in PBA history to win PBA national titles in six different decades.
Another possible chapter in Masters history involves Doug Kent of Newark, N.Y. Kent, who won Masters titles in 1991 and 2006, and Walter Ray Williams Jr. (2004 and 2010), both have a chance to join Mike Aulby as the second three-time Masters champion. Williams was the early qualifying leader Wednesday. Kent, who bowled his second round later Wednesday, was tied for 10th after his first five qualifying games.
PBA ACCEPTS 13 NEW MEMBERS FROM CHINA
The PBA recently accepted membership applications from 13 Chinese bowlers, the first players from their country to join the PBA. China becomes the 27th country represented among PBA’s more than 3,000 members.
China, one of 38 member nations in the World Bowling Asian Zone, has sent players to compete in World Bowling tournaments and now hopes its country will be represented in PBA competition by the time PBA World Series of Bowling VI rolls around this fall.
The PBA recently received its first memberships from China thanks to the efforts of Frank Ningbo Zhao, president of Longmarch Bowling, a bowling center chain, bowling ball manufacturer and equipment supplier based out of Shanghai City.
Since the introduction of economic reforms in China and an economy that began to experience significant growth in the 1980s, the world’s most populated country (1.3 billion) experienced a boom period followed by a debut in Asian Zone competition. According to Zhao, the first centers were opened in China in the late 1980s and by the late ‘90s, the bowling boom peaked at roughly 30,000 new bowling lanes. But like Japan before it, the boom began to fizzle.
After 10 years of maintaining itself, the Chinese bowling market began to experience new growth in 2010, including a renewed interest in high-level competition. While there are thousands of bowlers in the country, until this year, none had sought to reach PBA-level standards.
Following a meeting with PBA Commissioner Tom Clark in Las Vegas, Zhao invited Walter Ray Williams Jr. to China. Williams’ visit inspired Zhao to organize a “Pioneers League” designed to give players a chance to record recognized averages. The 13 players who averaged 200-plus in the special league are the first group to apply for PBA membership.
“Chinese bowlers are very excited about this,” Zhao said. “They are so proud of being a PBA member. They will soon come to play in PBA tournaments. They know they are not isolated any more and some may start to dream to be the first Chinese to win a PBA title.”
Zhao said the advancement has already had “an immeasurable impact” on the Chinese bowling industry and “it will certainly help the growth and development of bowling in China.”
PBA REGIONAL ROUNDUP: CHALLENGE, PBA50 EVENTS ON TAP
David Haynes of Las Vegas defeated Kevin Foley of Reno, Nev., 268-196, to win the PBA Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort Championship at Gold Country Lanes in Sutter Creek, Calif., Sunday. Haynes collected his seventh PBA Regional title along with a $2,200 prize.
● Next up on the PBA Regional calendar is the PBA50 Dave Edwards Toyota South Open presented by Dexter at Paradise Lanes in Spartanburg, S.C., Feb. 21-23.
The March 7-9 weekend includes the PBA Thunderbowl Over/Under 50 Midwest Doubles Classic in Council Bluffs, Iowa; the PBA50 Victory Lanes Central Open presented by Brunswick in Galion, Ohio, and the New Liberty Lanes South Open in Pensacola, Fla.
On the March 14-16 calendar are the PBA50 Franklin South Open at Franklin Bowling Center in Franklin, Va.; the Trumbull County Visitors Bureau Central/East Open presented by DV8 at Bell-Wick Bowl in Hubbard, Ohio, and the one-day (Saturday, March 15) PBA50 Allstate Insurance Midwest Open presented by Brunswick at Plamor Lanes in Muscatine, Iowa.
The March 21-23 PBA Regional calendar includes the San Angelo Southwest Open presented by Ebonite at Stadium Lanes in San Angelo, Texas; the PBA50 Rossi Lanes Eastern Open in Elmira, N.Y.; the PBA50 Fayetteville Lanes South Open in Fayetteville, N.C.; the Caveman Bowl Northwest/West Open presented by DV8 in Grants Pass, Ore., and the PBA50 Showtime Lanes Midwest/Central Open presented by Motiv in Virden, Ill.
Closing out the March schedule will be the PBA50 Boys and Girls Club Midwest/Central Open presented by Columbia 300 at Liberty Lanes in Carpentersville, Ill., and the Bowlers Discount Eastern Open at Brunswick Zone Normandy in Ellicott City, Md.
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.
● Live online coverage of the USBC Masters is now underway. PBA’s online bowling channel, Xtra Frame, is covering all qualifying and match play rounds as they happen, Tuesday through Saturday at Brunswick Zone Carolier in North Brunswick, N.J. To subscribe to the PBA’s official online bowling channel, visit pba.com and click on the Xtra Frame link. Fans also can follow the Masters via USBC’s live scoring that will allow you to see any scoreboard in the bowling center during qualifying and match play. Use this link: http://t.bowl.com/MastersScoring.
● Is there another EJ Tackett in the pipeline? The 2012-13 PBA Rookie of the Year’s younger brother, Zac, won the Indiana High School boys’ state individual championship Saturday. The junior at Huntington North High School defeated Tayler Peters of Highland, Ind., 224-203, in the title match at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis.
● Three-time PBA50 Tour winner Harry (The Legend) Sullins of Chesterfield Township, Mich., defeated Mike Calvin of Warren, Mich., 437-428, in the two-game title match of the Metro Detroit USBC Senior Masters Sunday at Classic Lanes in Rochester Hills for his third straight Metro Detroit Senior Masters title. Sullins also earned $3,000.