For Brad Angelo of Lockport, one of the perks of getting that elusive first PBA title was also earning a place in the prestigious PBA Tournament of Champions.
Unfortunately, Angelo had to drop out of the T of C this week because of a lingering wrist injury. The injury had forced Angelo to pass up the PBA’s Winter Swing tournaments in Michigan in January, and the U.S. Open last month, but he had hoped to make it to the T of C.
Ryan Ciminelli and Jack Jurek will represent Western New York at the tournament, which will be held at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis starting Tuesday. Indy is where the first T of C was held in 1962 before moving on to Akron, Ohio and then Las Vegas, Nev.
The 48 most recent winners on the PBA Tour who are still PBA members are included in the T of C field plus any past winners who choose to enter.
When this season began, Angelo stood 35th on the most recent list by virtue of his win in the 2008 Viper Championship in Omaha, Neb.
Ciminelli was 15th with his win in the Earl Anthony Memorial in January 2011. Jurek was 27th with his victory in the Shark Championship during the World Series of Bowling in August 2009.
Sean Rash will be trying to repeat the T of C title he won last year in Las Vegas when he defeated Ciminelli in the final match.
When Angelo dropped out, the next in line was Mike Mineman of O’Fallon, Ill., but he declined. That opened a vacancy for Brian Himmler of Cincinnati, whose last title came in 2006.
Himmler is on the “bubble,” however. If a first-time winner should come out of a World Tenpin Tour event in Germany this weekend, Himmler would get bumped from the field.
After liberalizing Tournament of Champions eligibility, the PBA returned to the past qualification – the 48 most recent regular title winners plus past T of C winners who chose to enter. Five former winners who are not on the title list have accepted the invitation.
The PBA decided that it would be best to restore the exclusivity that made the T of C a signature event with an elite field. Also, it would bring back the drama of trying to qualify or the danger of being “bumped” by a newly-eligible player.
According to the PBA: “Titles that will qualify a new player are all standard PBA Tour titles, all major championships (PBA World Championship, USBC Masters, U.S. Open and PBA Tournament of Champions) and all PBA International titles conducted with the World Tenpin Bowling Association.”
Winners of so-called major titles are treated no differently than champions of standard tournaments.
This year, the tournament will return to a traditional format with a five-player stepladder final which will be televised live on ESPN at 2:30 p.m. on March 31.
There will be two eight-game qualifying rounds Wednesday, and a third eight-game round Thursday. The top 24 will advance to three eight-game match play rounds, one Thursday evening and two Friday. The top five after 48 games will advance to the stepladder finals.
It’s a five-bowler final rather than four because it will be a two-hour TV show. First prize will be $50,000. All bowlers will cash. Last place will be worth $1,450, which would just about cover a pro’s expenses – a $500 entry fee, travel and lodging. Only a few pros are getting rich on the tour these days.
A companion event in Indy on March 31 will be the PBA League Elias Cup finals with the top four teams competing. That event will be taped for showing on ESPN at 1 p.m. April 7.
• Joe Ciccone of Buffalo defeated Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, 257-236, to win a PBA Regional Tour event last weekend in Hubbard, Ohio. Winning the PBA Trumbull County Tourism Bureau Central/East Open at Bell-Wick Bowl earned Ciccone $2,700. It was his 15th title in PBA Regional competition.
• Earlier this month, former PBA tour player and nine-time regional champion Randy Weiss of Columbia, S.C., defeated PBA Hall of Famer Tom Baker, the Buffalo native who now lives in King, N.C., 231-191, to win the PBA Pensacola South Open at New Liberty Lanes in Florida.
• Led by Justin Hart’s 628, the Cancer Can’t Kill Hope team posted a 2,881 total, good for 59th place, at last look in the USBC Open Championships in Reno, Nev. Tim Wangler contributed a 577, Jim Wangler Jr. a 573, Patrick Wangler a 554 and Jim Wangler III a 549 to the team total.
• Ninety-year old Syl Thiel of Lake City, Minn. made his 68th appearance this week in the USBC Open Championships. He stands third on the list behind Joe Norris and Bill Dohrman, who each have participated in 71 Opens. Thiel stands fourth on the all-time pinfall list behind Norris (123,770), Bill Lillard Sr. of Houston (120,015) and Jimmy Schroeder of the Town of Tonawanda (113,903). Schroeder will add to his total when he bowls in his 65th on May 18.