Hayden rolls with revived PBA's tour
By PHILIP GULICK
© St. Petersburg Times,
Imagine winning nearly $30,000 in less than a week, then asking yourself, "Do I really want to do this for a living?"
Chris Hayden faced that dilemma the same time the PBA was facing one of its own: What do we do to survive?
In 1998, the PBA was floundering in debt -- not only about to lose its lucrative, longtime TV contract, but possibly the entire tour. The next year, the PBA and ABC Sports parted company after 41 years. In 2000, a trio of former Microsoft executives stepped in and rescued the PBA from perdition.
Hayden "rescued" himself from the world of high rollers, mega-buck tournaments, eliminators and the Hoinke Classic by earning a PBA card.
"Sure, I won $29,000 in a Las Vegas eliminator and sweepers one year, but I was bowling them for what seemed an eternity," Hayden recalled.
"I thought I was a pretty good bowler, but it takes more than talent to win consistently on the high rollers tour," he said. "It takes a lot of luck and about 10 straight days of exceptional bowling. I just wasn't having any luck or fun, so I decided to join the pro tour."
Hayden finished fourth in his 1998 PBA debut in Detroit, and the die was cast. He picked up a backer and made nine more tour stops.
"My sixth in the 1998 Masters was the reason I went on to Detroit, and my finish there was the reason I stayed with the tour," Hayden said.
Hayden lost his first backer, made three stops in 1999, found another sponsor and cashed in all eight of the tour stops this season.
"I finished fifth three times this year, then managed a good fourth in the Masters," he said.
The left-hander is delighted with the new PBA format, its new contract with ESPN and the 20-stop schedule beginning in September. (See new schedule below).
"It's a long grind, but I grew up in New York bowling match-play events so I've been through that," Hayden said.
He shuns league play, practices little and works Tampa's Crown Lanes pro shop between stops. He won three PBA regional events last year and has rolled 40 perfect games -- 12 sanctioned.
"The PBA's increase in tournament payoffs ($20,000 to the winner of standard tournaments) is a real incentive, and I'll go for that any day," Hayden said.
MATCH-PLAY SET: The 34th annual Florida Men's All-Star Match-Play Championship is scheduled for the weekends of July 28-Aug. 12 at Sunshine Bowl.
The 19th annual women's match-play championship runs concurrently at the center.
Qualifying opens July 28 and continues through Aug. 5. Double-elimination matches start Aug. 10. The finals are Aug. 12. Entry fees are $50 for men, $45 for women and $35 re-entry for each.
The men's champion earns $1,200 based on 130 entries. The women's winner takes home $880, based on 50 entries.
The defending champions are two-time winner Bonnie Joel of Tampa and seven-time winner Bob Belmont of Dunedin.
YOUTH EVENT: The Greater Pinellas County Youth Leaders will offer a scholarship tournament July 29 at Ten Pin Lanes.
The entry fee is $15 for the handicap event, which will pay scholarship money based on the number of entries. Walk-ins are welcome. For information, call tournament director Patsy Wedding, 867-8450.
The center has copied a TV idea for its Weakest Link Team Competition scheduled for July 21. The entry fee is $10 per person. Squads may be bowler's choice, or singles will be chosen in a blind draw.
Teams will roll three games. After each game, a member will be voted off the squad. The survivors from each team then participate in a trivia contest, with the winner earning $280.
GLASGOW WINS: Keith Glasgow, the top qualifier from St. Petersburg, defeated Drew Beierlein 215-202 on July 1 at Sunshine Bowl to capture his second Florida Bowlers Club title. Beierlein topped Rick Ickes 256-225 to reach the final. Ickes stopped Paul Geldhauser 215-205 in the first match.
The next tournament is Aug. 3 at Sunshine Bowl.
The Iron Man Invitational Marathon is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at Sunrise Lanes. Some walk-in openings are available. For information, contact Mike Vitel, 545-8995.
AROUND THE LANES: Bud Scott nailed a 300-744 and Lou Alessi fired a 299-815 at Dunedin Lanes. ... Sean Snyder rolled a 300-726 and Jim Hamilton fired an 805 series at AMF Kenneth City Lanes. ... The Suncoast Bowling Association has a new Web site at suncoastba.org. ... High school coaches and interested parties will meet at 4 p.m. Thursday at Seminole Lanes to work on rules for the upcoming season. ... Southland Lanes has scheduled a 9-pin, no-tap tournament for the first Sunday of every month.
- Phil Gulick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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