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PBA strikes 3-year TV deal with ESPN

By PHIL GULICK

© St. Petersburg Times,
published May 31, 2001


ESPN and the Professional Bowlers Association last week signed a three-year television deal with a three-year option that will increase payoffs in the prize fund.

The PBA also will receive promotional spots on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS and ESPN Classic.

ESPN will air live 20 regular-season events and four to six summer telecasts, all on Sundays or Tuesdays.

A 139 percent increase in the prize fund was dialed in for the 2001-02 season, from the $1.8-million offered last fall and winter to $4.3-million for the season starting in September. That will increase prize money to the top finishers and allow payouts to more players in each tournament.

The winner's payoff in the 18 regular tournaments will be $40,000. The Tournament of Champions winner earns $100,000, and the PBA National Championship winner takes home $120,000. Walter Ray Williams Jr. of Ocala won this year's PBA National title and earned $25,000.

The TV deal gives the PBA consistent scheduling, which it has not had since its contract with ABC ended in 1997. The PBA has been televised on ESPN since 1985, exclusively since fall 2000.

SENIORS UPDATE: Bob Glass opened the PBA Seniors tour with a victory in the Greater Syracuse Senior Open on May 10, then came back the next week to win the Pennsylvania Open. Chuck Pierce won the third senior event, the Hawthorne Lanes, Ill., Open. The Seattle Open ends Friday.

Glass, the reigning PBA Senior Player of the Year, led the Syracuse event by 300 pins going into the finals, then had to await the stepladder results. Roger Workman defeated Mark Roth 229-222, then stopped Timothy Kauble 222-215. Bob Chamberlain ousted Workman 236-217, then lost to Glass 228-203 in the finals. Roth, who with 34 PBA titles is second all time behind Earl Anthony (41) and who is a longtime hall of famer, made his senior tour debut.

Glass stopped George Pappas 235-213 to win the Pennsylvania Open, his third title of the year. Titusville's Pete Couture, the 1999 player of the year, finished third.

Pierce walked through four opponents to win his first senior title, including Steve Neff of Homosassa Springs, who finished third.

QUEENS UPDATE: Carolyn Dorin-Ballard won the WIBC Queens and Roma Minton the Seniors Queens title during the WIBC Championship Tournament in Fort Lauderdale.

Dorin-Ballard rallied in the ninth frame to defeat Kelly Kulick 213-197 and capture the $18,000 payoff and diamond tiara. Kim Terrell was third, Australia's Maxine Nable fourth and Robin Crawford fifth.

Minton defeated Jean Williford 523-516 for the senior title and $2,500. It was the second year for the senior competition.

PWBA UPDATE: Liz Johnson broke a two-year drought by winning the Professional Women's Bowling Association tour opener, the St. Clair Classic at Fairview Heights, Ill. Johnson defeated Australia's Cara Honeychurch 268-179 to win her seventh title and $9,000.

Michelle Feldman won the PWBA Miller High Life Open at Omaha, Neb., the next weekend, defeating Honeychurch 257-224 for the $15,000 payoff. It was her seventh career title.

- Phil Gulick can be reached at xerxes8@msn.com.

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