Could there be a Cinderella story in the making this week in Indianapolis?
Indy area native Ronnie Russell waited until the last possible event, but ended a 10-year quest to win his first PBA Tour title Sunday in Munich, Germany, and now is preparing to bowl in the PBA’s signature event — the Barbasol Tournament of Champions — for the first time.
Russell’s 224-210 victory over Sweden’s James Gruffman in the championship match of the Brunswick Euro Challenge qualified him for the exclusive field of 48 PBA Tour champions and five past TOC winners who will begin competition in the 2013 Tournament of Champions today at Woodland Bowl on Indianapolis’ north side.
While Woodland has hosted almost every PBA Tour major championship over the years, it is hosting the TOC for the first time.
The only previous time that the Tournament of Champions was held in Indianapolis was in 1962 — the first-ever TOC. That tournament, won by the late PBA Hall of Famer Joe Joseph, was held at Play Bowl, a center that no longer exists.
The 2013 TOC begins with eight-round qualifying squads for all players this morning and this evening. After a third eight-game qualifying round Thursday morning, the top 24 players, based on 24-game totals, will advance to round-robin match play.
Match play rounds will be held Thursday evening, as well as Friday morning and evening.
After a total of 48 games, the top five players will advance to Sunday’s live ESPN stepladder finals, beginning at 2:30 p.m. Eastern.
At stake is a $50,000 first-place prize and the PBA’s third major championship of the 2012-13 season.
As part of Tournament of Champions week, the PBA will host its Hall of Fame induction ceremonies Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Indianapolis Marriott North, where Doug Kent and Danny Wiseman will join the ranks of the PBA’s all-time greatest players.
All qualifying and match play rounds of the Tournament of Champions — as well as the PBA Hall of Fame induction ceremonies — will be covered live, exclusively on PBA’s online bowling channel, Xtra Frame. For subscription information, visit pba.com.
Following Sunday’s live TOC finals, the PBA will conduct its inaugural PBA League Elias Cup finals at 6 p.m. The four teams that earned the most points during a five-round qualifying series in Detroit in January — the New York City WTT KingPins, led by franchise player Pete Weber and owned by Billie Jean King; the Motown Muscle, led by Mike Fagan and owned by Jerome Bettis; the Brooklyn Styles, led by Sean Rash and owned by Jesse Williams; and the Dallas Strikers, led by Norm Duke and owned by Terrell Owens — will bowl for the first Elias Cup title and a team prize of $76,000.
The Elias Cup finals will air on ESPN on Sunday, April 7, at 1 p.m. Eastern.
BJI’s Lyle Zikes and Dennis Bergendorf are in Indianapolis to cover all the action, and their on-the-scene, behind-the-scenes feature stories will appear in the May issue of Bowlers Journal International.
BARBASOL PBA TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS ROSTER
(Top 48 in order of eligibility, based upon most current title, plus past TOC champions who have accepted invitations to participate, as of March 17)
1. Ronnie Russell, Indianapolis, Brunswick Euro Challenge
2. Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 2013 Kuwait Open
3. Jason Belmonte, Australia, 2013 USBC Masters
4. Scott Norton, Mission Viejo, Calif., 2013 Earl Anthony PBA Players Championship
5. Jason Sterner, McDonough, Ga., 2013 Don Carter Classic
6. Michael Haugen Jr., Carefree, Ariz., 2013 Mark Roth Classic
7. Andres Gomez, Colombia, 2013 Carmen Salvino Classic
8. Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 2013 International Bowling Championship 2013 supported by DHC
9. Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich., 2013 Qatar Open
10. Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J., 2012 PBA World Championship
11. Tom Daugherty, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 2012 Bowlers Journal Scorpion Championship
12. Bill O’Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 2012 Alka Seltzer Plus Cold Cheetah Championship
13. Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 2012 Vienna Open
14. Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 2012 XF PBA Dick Weber Playoffs
15. Mike Fagan, Dallas, 2012 Brunswick Euro Challenge
16. Osku Palermaa, Finland, 2012 Kuwait Open
17. Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 2012 U.S. Open
18. Scott Newell, Daytona Beach, Fla., 2012 XF Ricart Ford Open
19. Eugene McCune, Munster, Ind., 2012 PBA XF Cheetah Open
20. Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 2011 Mark Roth-Marshall Holman PBA Doubles
21. Dom Barrett, England, 2011 Scorpion Open
22. Stuart Williams, England, 2011 Bayer Viper Open
23. Dick Allen, Columbia, S.C., 2011 Dick Weber PBA Playoffs
24. Tom Hess, Urbandale, Iowa, 2011 Bayer USBC Masters
25. Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 2011 One A Day Earl Anthony Memorial Classic
26. Brian Kretzer, Dayton, Ohio, 2010 Go RVing Match Play Championship
27. Mike Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas, 2010 Etonic Don Johnson Eliminator
28. Walter Ray Williams Jr., Ocala, Fla., 2010 USBC Masters
29. Kelly Kulick, Union, N.J., 2010 PBA Tournament of Champions
30. Anthony LaCaze, Melrose Park, Ill., 2010 Earl Anthony Memorial Classic
31. Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 2009 PBA World Championship
32. Jack Jurek, Lackawanna, N.Y., 2009 Shark Championship
33. Mike DeVaney, San Diego, 2009 Scorpion Championship
34. Rhino Page, Dade City, Fla., 2009 Viper Championship
35. Patrick Allen, Wesley Chapel, Fla., 2009 Dydo Japan Cup
36. Michael Machuga, Erie, Pa., 2008 Chameleon Championship
37. Mike Wolfe, New Albany, Ind., 2008 Ultimate Scoring Championship
38. Danny Wiseman, Baltimore, 2008 PBA Exempt Doubles Classic
39. Steve Jaros, Yorkville, Ill., 2005 PBA Dexter Tournament of Champions
40. Amleto Monacelli, Venezuela, 2005 Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Open
41. Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y., 2003 Empire State Open
42. Lonnie Waliczek, Wichita, Kan., 2003 Odor-Eaters Open
43. Bryon Smith, Roseburg, Ore., 2003 ABC Masters
44. Kurt Pilon, Warren, Mich., 2001 Peoria Open
45. Dave Wodka, Henderson, Nev., 1999 Greater Detroit Open
46. Chris Warren, Grants Pass, Ore., 1992 Florida Open
47. Jason Couch, Clermont, Fla., 2011 Plastic Ball Championship
48. Doug Kent, Newark, N.Y., 2007 Denny’s World Championship
49. George Branham III, Indianapolis, 1993 Firestone Tournament of Champions
50. Bryan Goebel, Shawnee, Kan., 1998 Brunswick World Tournament of Champions
51. Johnny Petraglia, Jackson, N.J., 1971 Firestone Tournament of Champions
52. Wayne Webb, Columbus, Ohio, 1980 Firestone Tournament of Champions
53. Mark Williams, Beaumont, Texas, 1988 Firestone Tournament of Champions
Tuesday, March 26
• 1-3 p.m. — Official practice session
Wednesday, March 27
• 10 a.m. — 8 qualifying games, all players
• 5 p.m. — 8 qualifying games, all players
Thursday, March 28
• 10 a.m. – 8 qualifying games, all players
(Field cut to the top 24 players for round robin match play)
• 5 p.m. — Top 24, 8 games round robin match play
Friday, March 29
• 10 a.m. — Top 24, 8 games round robin match play
• 5 p.m. – Top 24, 8 games round robin match play
(Field cut to top 5 for ESPN-televised stepladder finals)
Saturday, March 30
• 9:30 a.m., 12 noon and 2:30 p.m. — Pro-am Squads
• 7 p.m. — PBA Hall of Fame induction ceremonies and dinner
Sunday, March 31
• 3 p.m. — ESPN five-player stepladder finals (live)
• 6 p.m. — PBA League Elias Cup finals (taped)