Bowlers from 55 countries, including many of the best male and female players in the sport, have begun competition in the inaugural World Bowling Open, an event designed as a showcase for observers considering additional sports for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games program.
The event began Thursday with open qualifying for non-exempt players and concludes with televised finals in Japan on Sunday.
Bowling is one of eight sports in contention for possible inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games.
The World Bowling Open, which is offering the richest prize fund on the World Bowling Tour schedule, will pay shares of its estimated US$390,000 in prize money equally to men and women. First prize in each division will be roughly $81,000. As a part of its support of the event and the Olympic movement, the PBA will award a PBA Tour title to the men’s champion.
The tournament will include 110 men and 110 women in the singles main events, plus an international mixed doubles competition. The main event fields will include 79 invited representatives from 55 countries, 19 international players and 12 local qualifiers from open qualifying events Thursday and Friday at Shinagawa Prince Hotel Bowling Center.
Among the invited players granted automatic berths in men’s singles are PBA champions Jason Belmonte, Australia; Thomas Larsen, Denmark; Dom Barrett and Paul Moor, England; Osku Palermaa, Finland; Jesper Svensson, Sweden, and Mike Fagan and Chris Barnes, representing the PBA and the U.S. A number of additional international PBA members who have not yet won a PBA title also are among the exempt men.
The women’s exempt field will include PBA/PWBA members Clara Guerrero, Colombia; Aumi Guerra, Dominican Republic; Diana Zavjalova, Latvia; and American stars Kelly Kulick and Liz Johnson. Kulick is the only woman ever to win a PBA Tour title (2011 PBA Tournament of Champions). Kulick, Johnson and Guerrero all have appeared in PBA Tour television finals and all three are PBA Regional title winners.
The main singles competitions will involve five qualifying games Saturday with the top 33 players in each division advancing to a three-game semifinal round at Round1 Minamisuna Bowling Center. Based on pinfall for eight games, the top four will advance to the televised finals where No. 1 will bowl No. 4, and No. 2 will bowl No. 3, in one-game matches. The winners will then bowl for their respective titles.
Sunday’s men’s and women’s finals, along with international mixed doubles finals, will be contested on a special six-lane installation in an exhibition hall at the Makuhari-Messe convention center on the outskirts of Tokyo.
The open qualifying system allows bowlers from around the world to bowl a three-game series on the same pair of lanes. The top 19 players will earn berths in the 110-player fields. Bowlers can re-enter every-other squad in attempts to qualify among the top 19. After six squads, PBA titlists Mika Koivuniemi, Finland, along with U.S. stars Bill O’Neill, Tommy Jones and Sean Rash were among the players in position to advance. Four additional qualifying squads are scheduled for Friday.
BOWLING WORLD OPEN
Shinagawa Prince Hotel Bowling Center, Tokyo, Thursday
Men’s Open Qualifying Leaders (after three games; top 19 after four additional squads on Friday advance to Saturday’s men’s singles main event)
1, Youngjun Lee, Korea, 746.
2, Mika Koivuniemi, Finland, 741.
3, Sangpil Park, Korea, 737.
4, Bill O'Neill, U.S., 733.
5, Taehwa Jeong, Korea, 729.
6, Tommy Jones, U.S., 724.
7, Sean Rash, U.S., 721.
8, Kang Seongyu, Korea, 719.
9, Timmy Tan, Malaysia, 718.
10, Kyungmin Kim, Korea, 712.
11, Gu Yongjin, Korea, 711.
12, Youngkwan Kim, Korea, 707.
13, Seoungjoo Joung, Korea, 704.
14 (tie), Zhi Yong Wang, China, and Jaejung Lee, Korean, 701.
16, Jun Hyun Kim, Korea, 698.
17, Ahmad Muaz, Malaysia, 694.
18, Robert Townsend, Australia, 690.
19, Ju Hun Oh, Korea, 689.
Women’s Open Qualifying Leaders (after three games; top 19 after four additional squads on Friday advance to Saturday’s women’s singles main event)
1, Nahyun Lee, Korea, 760.
2, Yeonju Hwang, Korea, 749.
3, Dawun Jung, Korea, 734.
4, Seungja Baek, Korea, 727.
5, Syaidatul Afifah, Malaysia, 726.
6, Yeong Seung Lee, Korea, 717.
7, Jenny Wegner, Sweden, 713.
8 (tie), Jazreel Tan, Singapore, and Jinsun Kim, Korea, 711.
10, Cherie Tan, Singapore, 708.
11, Byul Han, Korea, 700.
12 (tie), Eunok Kim, Korea, and Danielle McEwan, U.S., 697.
14, New Hui Fen, Singapore, 696.
15, Hyunsook Choi, Korea, 690.
16 (tie), Hyun Lim An, Korea, and Kristin Quah, Singapore, 686.
18, Bernice Lim, Singapore, 680.
19, Subin Kim, Korea, 679.