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PBA Tour getting ready to return to action

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It won’t be long before the PBA Tour returns to action for a fun-filled, memory-packed year of competition under the Go Bowling! PBA Tour banner.

After the 2017 season’s top players kick off the new year in the DHC PBA Japan Invitational in Tokyo, Jan. 23-27 (live streamed on PBA’s Xtra Frame online bowling channel), the season kicks into full gear with a slate of headline tournaments in February: the return of the PBA Tournament of Champions to historic AMF Riviera Lanes in Fairlawn, Ohio, Feb. 5-11; the Go Bowling! 60th Anniversary PBA Classic at historic Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis, Feb. 13-18; and the Barbasol PBA Players Championship plus the Mark Roth-Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship presented by BowlerX.com at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl in Columbus, Ohio, Feb. 19-25.

Speaking of the Roth-Holman Doubles event, the tournament roster is already at “sold out” status with a full field of 53 teams, including a number of notables including:

Past Roth-Holman Doubles champions Norm Duke and Wes Malott (2011 and 2015), Anthony Simonsen and Connor Pickford (2016), and defending champions Kyle Troup and Jesper Svensson (pictured above).

International partners Pontus Andersson and Markus Jansson of Sweden; England’s Dom Barrett and Osku Palermaa of Finland; Thailand’s Kim Bolleby and Daniel Fransson of Sweden; Canadians Patrick Girard and Zach Wilkins; Japan’s Shota Kawazoe and Zulmazran Zulkifli of Malaysia; Sweden’s Martin Larsen and Stuart Williams of England; South Africa’s Francois Louw and Christopher Sloan of Ireland; Mexico’s Arturo Quintero and Ildemaro Ruiz of Venezuela.

Brotherly duos will include Darren and Michael Tang of San Francisco along with England’s Richie and Ray Teece.

Women in the field will include PBA Tour titlist Liz Johnson bowling with Anthony Pepe; Latvia’s Diana Zavjalova bowling with 2017 PBA Rookie of the Year Matt Sanders, and the all-female team of Danielle McEwan and Tannya Roumimper of Indonesia.

PBA Hall of Famers in the field, in addition to Norm Duke, will include newly-inducted Chris Barnes with future Hall of Famer Tommy Jones; Pete Weber with Thailand’s Yannaphon Larpapharat; Walter Ray Williams Jr. with Tom Smallwood; and Wayne Webb with David Wodka.

Reigning PBA Player of the Year Jason Belmonte will team up with long-time doubles partner Bill O’Neill. Last year’s runners-up and past PBA Rookies of the Year EJ Tackett and Marshall Kent will team up again.

That’s just part of the field. To view the complete entry list, click here.

While the Roth-Holman PBA Doubles Championship is a month away, it’ll be fun to watch. Xtra Frame will live-stream the qualifying rounds of the PBA Players Championship – which also will serve as qualifying for the doubles events – and the Baker doubles qualifying rounds leading up to the Roth-Holman Doubles stepladder finals that will air on ESPN on Sunday, March 5, at 1 p.m. EST.

Silver Lake, Philadelphia players protected for PBA League Draft

The second group of players protected from the PBA League Draft have been named by Silver Lake Atoms Splitters manager Mark Baker and Philadelphia Hitmen manager Jason Couch.

Members of the respective 2017 rosters who will remain with their teams in 2018 include the Atom Splitters’ Chris Barnes, Jesper Svensson and Tom Daugherty. Couch has protected Dom Barrett, Tom Smallwood and Ronnie Russell.

The two-time defending Elias Cup champion Dallas Strikers, led by player-manager Norm Duke, previously protected Tommy Jones and Bill O’Neill (in addition to himself) while Portland Lumberjacks manager Tim Mack retained Ryan Ciminelli, Wes Malott and Kyle Troup.

Under PBAL rules for 2018, each team manager can protect up to three players from the team’s 2017 roster.

Next up, will be LA X (Andrew Cain) and NYC Kingpins (Carolyn Dorin-Ballard) who have until Sunday to make their selections. The Motown Muscle (Del Ballard Jr.) and Brooklyn Styles (Johnny Petraglia) will round out the protected player process by January 28. Protected players will be announced on the following Monday.

The PBA League draft will take place on Saturday, Feb. 17 at 10:30 a.m. at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis when managers will fill any open spots on their rosters. The draft will be live streamed on Xtra Frame.

The draft order will be reverse order of finish from last year, beginning with No. 8 Brooklyn followed by Motown, NYC, LA, Philadelphia, Silver Lake, Portland and Dallas. Players eligible to be drafted will consist of the top 75 PBA players on the National Tour/WBT earnings list for 2017 plus 2018 events through the PBA Tournament of Champions which ends Feb. 11.

New CP3 PBA Celebrity Invitational red carpet interviews now on YouTube

As we close in on the State Farm CP3 PBA Celebrity Invitational presented by GoBowling.com telecast on ESPN on Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 4) at 2 p.m. EST, PBA’s YouTube channel is posting a series of red carpet interviews with PBA Tour stars and celebrity participants.

Upcoming PBA YouTube interviews will include James Harden, Jan. 22; EJ Tackett, Jan. 23; DJ Archer, Jan. 24; Terrell Owens, Jan. 29; Pete Weber, Jan. 30; Oscar Nunez, Jan. 31; Mookie Betts, Feb. 2 and Bill O’Neill, Feb. 3.

Currently available on PBA’s YouTube channel are interviews with tournament host and Houston Rockets All-Star guard Chris Paul (pictured with PBA CEO and Commissioner, Tom Clark, left), Norm Duke and Sean Rash. To view the CP3 red carpet interviews, or any of dozens of other PBA video clips, click here.

Rhino Page’s breakthrough win featured in new PBA Player’s Perspective

The Xtra Frame Player’s Perspective series, a special collection of personal conversations about key moments in PBA history, includes new features every Thursday, first to Xtra Frame subscribers and a week later to all fans on PBA’s YouTube channel.

This week’s Perspective features Rhino Page‘s (pictured) insights into his personal breakthrough in winning the 2017 Xtra Frame Kenn-Feld Group Classic. Page’s Perspective will then debut on YouTube on Jan. 25.

A number of Player’s Perspective features are currently available on PBA’s YouTube channel. The next XF Player’s Perspective will feature Chris Barnes discussing his 2015 DHC PBA Japan Invitational title match. The conversation will debut on Xtra Frame on Jan. 25 and on YouTube on Feb. 1. Additional perspectives will be announced in the coming weeks.

Xtra Frame subscription packages are offered for seven days, a full month or a 12-month Xtra Frame Season Ticket. Visit xtraframe.com for details on how to subscribe.

Concrete Software offers “Beat the 60th Anniversary” Champion Challenge

Based in great part on the exceptional popularity of the recent “Cheetah Challenge,” a sweepstakes inviting PBA Bowling Challenge Mobile Game users to try to beat the 245 game Jesper Svensson bowled in winning the 2017 Cheetah title, Concrete Software is going to conduct another similar event.

In honor of Go Bowling! PBA Tour’s 60th Anniversary season, the PBA Bowling Challenge Mobile Game will be offering a PBA 60th Anniversary tournament inside the new Anniversary venue.

To enter, download PBA Bowling Challenge and start bowling on Feb. 19 at noon. Beat the score of the actual PBA 60th Anniversary Classic winner’s score, and you’ll be eligible to win the sweepstakes.

The Go Bowling! PBA 60th Anniversary Classic finals will air on ESPN on Feb. 18 at 1 p.m. EST. Each tournament score that beats the real-life winner’s score will count as an entry. One entry will be randomly selected as the winner and will receive a bowling pin signed by a PBA star plus 5,000 Gold Pins!

Players can enter scores between 1 p.m. EST on Feb. 19 and 12:59 a.m. EST on Feb. 26. Here is a link to the official rules.

To give you an idea of how popular the “Cheetah Challenge” was, Cody Heckman of South Bend, Ind., was the winner, but he entered the contest 70 times! Overall, the Cheetah tournament drew 93,576 entries. Around 70 percent of the contest players entered the tournament at least 10 times. One participant had 553 entries alone. Others entered between 200 and 300 times trying to beat Svensson’s 245 game.

Everyone with a mobile device is invited to join the fun. The PBA Bowling Challenge Mobile Game app is a free download at Google Play and Apple App stores.

PBA Tour Finals taping moved to Friday and Saturday May 4-5

The CBS Sports Network taping dates and times for the PBA Tour Finals at Thunderbowl Lanes in Allen Park, Mich., have been changed to Friday, May 4 at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, May 5 at noon, 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. ET. The taping dates were originally scheduled for May 5 and 6.

A pro-am squad is scheduled for Sunday, May 6 at noon. Additional details regarding the pro-am, tickets and telecast dates/times will be announced soon.

The 2018 edition of the PBA Tour Finals will involve eight elite PBA stars who have dominated PBA’s earnings chart over a span of more than two years. The special event marks PBA’s return to CBS Sports Network for a series of five two-hour prime-time telecasts as part of the 2017-18 Go Bowling! PBA Tour schedule.

As the 2018 PBA Tour season begins, leading the list of qualifiers for 2018, based on total PBA Tour earnings for 2016 and 2017 as of Nov. 1, are defending champion EJ Tackett followed by Jason Belmonte, Anthony Simonsen, Jesper Svensson, Dom Barrett, Tommy Jones, Marshall Kent and Sean Rash.

PBA Regional Update: Regional Program returns Jan. 19-21

PBA’s Regional tournament program returns to action in the PBA Central Region over the Jan. 19-21 weekend with the PBA/PBA50 Don Vay Memorial Central Classic at Legend Lanes in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

The PBA South Region returns to action in February with the PBA and PBA50 Break Point Alley Challenge events, both open to players who have not won a PBA title. Break Point Alley in Tavares, Fla., will host the doubleheader over the Feb. 9-11 weekend.

The PBA South Region’s second weekend of competition includes the PBA50 Dave Edwards Toyota Spartanburg South Open at Paradise Lanes in Spartanburg, S.C., over the Feb. 16-18 weekend.

For complete PBA Regional schedules, rules and entry information, click here to find the event(s) in your area.

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Herbert Bickel

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