PBA TOC, League Play Ready to Roll at Thunderbowl

by Bob Johnson 0

At age 51, defending Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions winner Pete Weber shows no signs of slowing down, and hopes to add yet another chapter to his legendary career by becoming the tournament’s third three-time winner.

PDW will defend his title against a field of approximately 100 other PBA titlists when Thunderbowl Lanes hosts the PBA’s signature event Jan. 18-26. The 49th Tournament of Champions is a showcase for the organization’s elite players because only PBA title winners are eligible to enter.

The Tournament of Champions will conclude with two hours of live coverage on ESPN on Sunday, Jan. 26, at 12 noon Eastern.

Weber, a 37-time PBA Tour titlist, wrote yet another chapter in his Hall of Fame career last March when he defeated Jason Belmonte, 224-179, to win his second TOC title at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis. With that win, Weber became the oldest player to capture a TOC title, the first player to complete the PBA Triple Crown for a second time, and he tied bowling legend Earl Anthony for most major PBA titles with 10.

Weber, who was considered one of the tour’s power players when he won his first TOC with his unique high back swing back in 1987, now is a force on the PBA50 Tour, as well as on the regular “kids’ tour.”

“I feel like I’m bowling as well as I ever have,” said Weber, who was voted the fourth greatest player in PBA history as part of organization’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2009. “I’m not slowing down and have no plans to retire, so they’ll have to put up with me for the foreseeable future.”

In addition to his second TOC title, Weber has won a record five U.S. Open titles and two PBA World Championships, a Triple Crown feat no other bowler has accomplished. He also owns a PBA Touring Players Championship for his other major. The only major title missing from his portfolio is the USBC Masters — a title he’ll pursue next month.

Weber’s 2013 TOC title was his 37th, tying him for third place on the PBA’s all-time titles list with Norm Duke, behind only Walter Ray Williams Jr. (47) and Anthony (43).

Even Belmonte had high praise for Weber after losing the title to him last year.

“Pete is the most talented bowler the world has ever seen, and may ever see,” Belmonte said. “To bowl him in the finals and see him break records like he has broken is really special. If I can achieve half of what he has done by the time my career is over, I’ll be ecstatic.”

As if Weber’s accomplishments needed to be underscored, consider that he’s a force to be reckoned with at every level of PBA competition.

On the PBA50 (Senior) Tour, he earned Rookie of the Year honors, winning the USBC Senior Masters and the Treasure Island Resort & Casino Open, and had three other top-five finishes. He’s also the most successful player in PBA Regional tournament history with a record 51 titles (48 standard and three PBA50).

The final touch to his 2012-13 season came in the PBA League, in which he led his New York City WTT Kingpins team, owned by tennis legend Billie Jean King, to victory in the first Elias Cup finals. Weber will return as the team’s franchise player for the second PBA League season, when competition gets underway at Thunderbowl Lanes on Jan. 25. He will be joined by teammates Scott Norton, Stuart Williams, John Szczerbinski and Jake Peters in defense of the KingPins’ title.

This year, Weber will try to join Mike Durbin and Jason Couch as the third player to win the TOC three times. Durbin won in 1972, ’82 and ’84. Couch, the only player to win the event three consecutive times, won in 1999 in Overland Park, Kan.; 2000 in Lake Zurich, Ill., and in 2002 in Uncasville, Conn. (No tournament was held in 2001.)

All 2014 TOC qualifying and match play rounds will be covered live on the PBA’s exclusive online bowling channel, Xtra Frame, along with “live scoring” on pba.com. For Xtra Frame subscription information, visit pba.com and click on the Xtra Frame link.


Friday, Jan. 17

• 1:30 p.m. — Official practice session

Saturday, Jan. 18

• 11 a.m. — 5 qualifying games, all players

• 6 p.m. — 5 qualifying games, all players

Sunday, Jan. 19

• 11 a.m. — 5 qualifying games, all players

PBA Tour national title winners and top two-thirds of rest of field advance

• 6 p.m. — 5 qualifying games, PBA Tour titlists and additional qualifiers

Monday, Jan. 20

• 11 a.m. — 5 qualifying games, PBA Tour titlists and additional qualifiers

Top 24 after 25 qualifying games advance to round robin match play

• 6 p.m. — Top 24, 8 games round robin match play

Tuesday, Jan. 21

• 11 a.m. — Top 24, 8 games round robin match play

• 6 p.m. — Top 24, 8 games round robin match play

Top five after 49 games advance to ESPN stepladder finals

Thursday, Jan. 23

• 3 p.m. — Official PBA League practice session

Saturday, Jan. 25

• 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. — Pro-Am squads

• 5 p.m. — PBA League Quarterfinal Match: L.A. X vs. Brooklyn Styles (ESPN telecast Sunday, Feb. 9, 3 p.m. Eastern)

• 8 p.m. — PBA League Quarterfinal Match: New York City WTT KingPins vs. Motown Muscle (ESPN telecast Sunday, Feb. 16, 3 p.m. Eastern)

Sunday, Jan. 26

• 12 noon — Top five, live ESPN Tournament of Champions stepladder finals

• 4:30 p.m. — PBA League Quarterfinal Match: Silver Lake Atom Splitters vs. Dallas

Strikers (ESPN telecast Sunday, March 2, 3 p.m. Eastern)

• 7:30 p.m. — PBA League Quarterfinal Match: Pittsburgh Jack Rabbits vs.

Philadelphia Hitmen (ESPN telecast Sunday, March 23, 1 p.m. Eastern)

Monday, Jan. 27

• 4:30 p.m. — PBA League Semifinal Match One, Winner Quarterfinal Match One vs.

Winner Quarterfinal Match Two (ESPN telecast Sunday, March 30, 4:30 p.m. Eastern)

• 7:30 p.m. — PBA League Semifinal Match Two, Winner Quarterfinal Match Three vs. Winner Quarterfinal Match Four (ESPN telecast Sunday, April 6, 1 p.m. Eastern)

Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson has received more national writing awards than any other bowling writer — close to 70 over the course of his 40-year career. He began at age 16 as a staff writer and then assistant editor for the weekly Pacific Bowler newspaper in his native California, and within three years was writing feature stories for Bowlers Journal. He has written for the magazine ever since, except for a five-year span when he was hired as the founding editor of another magazine. He moved to Chicago in 2000 and spent 13 years in the Windy City, including five as Bowlers Journal’s Editor. In 1975, Johnson received the Robert E. Kennedy Award as California’s top undergraduate high school journalist. Five years earlier, on the lanes, he had shared the Bantam Division Doubles championship in the Orange County Junior Bowling Association Championships. Today, he continues to work full-time for Bowlers Journal as its Senior Editor, to write his popular “Strikes Me” column, and to edit Luby Publishing Inc.’s weekly business-to-business Cyber Report.

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