PBA Tour Season Hits Full Stride With 2015 Oklahoma’s Grand Casino Hotel & Resort PBA Summer Swing

by Gianmarc Manzione 0

ONeillThe Professional Bowlers Association Tour resumes its 2015 season when a sold-out field of 120 of the world’s best bowlers returns to FireLake Bowling Center and the Grand Casino Hotel & Resort May 9-17 for the second annual Oklahoma’s Grand Casino Hotel & Resort PBA Summer Swing.

The Summer Swing will include four PBA Tour title events plus a special Oklahoma’s Grand Casino Hotel & Resort King of the Swing finale, all of which will air on CBS Sports Network on consecutive Tuesday nights beginning May 26. The finals will be contested in a special bowling arena installed inside the Grand Casino Event Center while the preliminary rounds will be hosted by the FireLake Bowling Center and covered by PBA’s online bowling channel Xtra Frame.

The four PBA Tour events contested during the Summer Swing will be the Wolf, Bear and Badger Opens and the PBA Oklahoma Open. The Oklahoma’s Grand Casino Resort King of the Swing special event will feature the four winners plus a “wild card” player.

Here’s a look at some of the storylines for the 2015 Oklahoma’s Grand Casino Hotel & Resort PBA Summer Swing:

Defending champions: Returning to defend their titles will be Wolf Open champion Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill.; Bear Open winner Ronnie Russell of Marion, Ind.; Oklahoma Open champ Jason Belmonte of Australia, and Badger Open and King of the Swing winner Bill O’Neill of Langhorne, Pa.

Jason Belmonte is frontrunner for third consecutive Player of the Year crown: Heading into the Summer Swing, Belmonte is the front-runner for a third consecutive PBA Player of the Year title, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since Walter Ray Williams Jr. won the PBA’s highest annual honor in 1996, ’97 and ’98. The only other player who has earned POY honors three years in a row was the late Earl Anthony, who did it twice (1981-83 and 1974-76).

Through the first 10 events of the 2015 campaign, Belmonte has won the first two major titles of the season (the USBC Masters and Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions) to take the lead in the PBA Tour earnings race ($152,161 vs. $106,710 for current runner-up Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas) and is fifth in scoring average (231.46 vs. the 234.59 pace by leader Rhino Page of Dade City, Fla.).

Josh Blanchard tries for third consecutive title: Arguably the player with the most momentum heading into the Summer Swing is Josh Blanchard of Gilbert, Ariz., who will be attempting to win his third consecutive title after winning the Brunswick Euro Challenge and the Xtra Frame Maine Shootout in March. He will join PBA legends Dick Weber and Johnny Petraglia as the only player to accomplish the feat if he wins the Wolf Open which is the first event of the Summer Swing.

Former Major League Baseball pitcher John Burkett set to compete in second Summer Swing: Former major league pitcher John Burkett makes his second consecutive Summer Swing appearance. Burkett, a two-time all-star who played for 16 seasons in the majors, is also competing as a rookie on the PBA50 Tour (for players 50 and over) this year.  He made the cut to match play in the UnitedHealthcare Sun Bowl In The Villages PBA50 Tour event in April eventually finishing 24th.

Diverse lane conditions put players to the test: The Wolf Open uses the shortest of all PBA animal pattern lane conditions, with oil applied only 32 feet down the lane. The Badger is the longest of all animal patterns, with oil applied 52 feet down lane. The Bear pattern may be the most challenging of all, applied to 40 feet, but virtually flat from gutter to gutter.

PBA Legends entered: Four of PBA’s legends are entered who have a combined PBA Tour win total of 156 victories.  They include all-time titles leader Walter Ray Williams Jr. with 47 wins, Norm Duke, third on the all-time list with 38 wins, Pete Weber, fourth with 37 wins and Parker Bohn III, tied for fifth with 34 titles.

Rash makes TV history in 2014 Summer Swing: Sean Rash made TV history in last year’s Wolf Open by bowling the 23rd televised 300 game in PBA Tour history. Rash also bowled the 25th televised 300 in the Barbasol PBA Tournament Champions in Indianapolis in February.

Heading into the Summer Swing, 38 300 games have been bowled this season for an average of 6.33 per event.

Xtra Frame provides live international coverage: All qualifying and preliminary match play rounds of the Summer Swing will be covered exclusively live on Xtra Frame, the PBA’s online video service that reaches a global audience of bowling fans.  Three-day ($3.99), monthly ($7.99) and 12 month ($64.99) subscriptions are available.  Click on the Xtra Frame logo on the pba.com homepage for subscription information.

Tickets for TV finals are still available: For fans who will be attending the Summer Swing, individual day passes can be purchased at http://www.grandboxoffice.com/event?eventid=66 for $25. Day passes are for general admission seating in the balcony overlooking the two-lane bowling installation, and are good for all telecasts happening the day of purchase. Weekend passes can be purchased at http://www.grandboxoffice.com/event?eventid=65. Tickets are $60 each, allow access to all finals conducted over the weekend, and will be good for general admission seating on the first floor bleachers next to the lanes.

The May 16 TV schedule includes the Wolf Open finals at 11 a.m. (CT), Bear Open at 2:30 and Badger Open at 5:15 p.m. The May 17 schedule includes the Oklahoma Open finals at noon and the King of the Swing at 3:30 p.m.

CBS Sports Network telecast schedule: CBS Sports Network’s coverage begins Tuesday, May 26 (8 p.m. ET) with the Wolf Open. Coverage continues with the Bear Open (June 2, 9 p.m.), Badger Open (June 9, 9 p.m.), Oklahoma Open (June 16, 9 p.m.), and King of the Swing (June 23, 9 p.m.).

OKLAHOMA’S GRAND CASINO HOTEL & RESORT PBA SUMMER SWING SCHEDULE

FireLake Bowling Center and Grand Casino Hotel & Resort, Shawnee, Okla., May 9-17 (all times are Central)

Saturday, May 9

2 p.m. – Pro-am

Sunday, May 10

Noon – A Squad practice session

3:30 p.m. – B Squad practice session

Monday, May 11 - PBA Wolf Open

8 a.m. – A Squad, 6 qualifying games

2 p.m. – B Squad, 6 qualifying games

  Top 18 advance to second qualifying round

7:30 p.m. – Top 18, 6 qualifying games

Top 5 after 12 games advance to stepladder finals

Tuesday, May 12 - PBA Bear Open

8 a.m. – B Squad, 6 qualifying games

2 p.m. – A Squad, 6 qualifying games

  Top 18 advance to second qualifying round

7:30 p.m. – Top 18, 6 qualifying games

Top 5 after 12 games advance to stepladder finals

Wednesday, May 13 - PBA Badger Open

8 a.m. – A Squad, 6 qualifying games

2 p.m. – B Squad, 6 qualifying games

  Top 18 after 6 games advance to second qualifying round; top 18 after 18 games (combined 6-game first-round Wolf, Bear and Badger totals) advance to Oklahoma Open match play

7:30 p.m. – Top 18, 6 qualifying games

  Top 5 after 12 games advance to stepladder finals

Thursday, May 14 - PBA Oklahoma Open Round Robin Match Play

10 a.m. – Top 18, 6 games match play, Wolf pattern

2 p.m. – Top 18, 6 games match play, Bear pattern

6:30 p.m. – Top 18, 6 games match play, Badger pattern

  Top 5 advance to stepladder finals

CBS SPORTS NETWORK STEPLADDER FINALS

Grand Casino Resort Event Center, Shawnee, Okla.

Saturday, May 16

11 a.m. – PBA Wolf Open five-player stepladder finals (telecast, May 26, 8 p.m. ET)

2:30 p.m. – PBA Bear Open five-player stepladder finals (telecast, June 2, 9 p.m. ET)

5:15 p.m. – PBA Badger Open five-player stepladder finals (telecast, June 9, 9 p.m. ET)

Sunday, May 17

Noon – PBA Oklahoma Open five-player stepladder finals (June 16, 9 p.m. ET)

3:30 p.m. – Oklahoma’s Grand Casino Resort King of the Swing five-player stepladder finals (four title winners plus “wild card” player - highest in combined points for four events without a title. Telecast, June 23, 9 p.m. ET).

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