Lockport's Brad Angelo hopes that all those 10-mile bike rides he took this summer put him on the road to his first PBA Tour title.
The Lumber Liquidators (formerly Denny's) PBA Tour begins the season next week with the PBA World Championship in Wichita, Kan. It kicks off a new season for Angelo and other exempt pros Jack Jurek of Lackawanna, Joe Ciccone of Buffalo and Buffalo native Tom Baker, who now lives in King, N.C.
Angelo went on a training program to strengthen his back after he suffered two herniated disks last season.
"That took its toll. It knocked me out of two tournaments and forced me to withdraw from two others," Angelo said this week as he began making his travel plans for the long Tour grind.
Despite the physical problems and failing to satisfy his quest for that elusive first title on Tour, Angelo considers 2007-08 "a very positive season considering the injuries I had."
Angelo did not have surgery on his back. Instead he followed an Active Release Technique therapy program and spent many hours training in a gym and on his bike.
"I'm OK and looking forward to getting started," said Angelo, adding that he is confident he will not bowl timidly in fear of reinjuring his back.
It's the PBA's 50th anniversary and there are a lot of innovations and special events scheduled to mark the occasion. Angelo is looking forward to the challenge of facing varying formats.
In the recent past, standard PBA Tour stops have used one of five PBA Tour oil patterns -- Viper, Chameleon, Scorpion, Cheetah and Shark. The Tour will have championships for each of the patterns plus a new pattern, the Earl (named after the late great Earl Anthony).
The Cheetah Pattern Championship will be bowled Dec. 3-7 at AMF Thruway Lanes in Cheektowaga.
The difference this season is that some events will be bowled on mixed patterns. For example, in the PBA National Stadium Championship in Reno, Nev., Jan. 7-11, the first round of qualifying will feature the Shark pattern and the second round will feature the Cheetah. For match play and the TV round, the left lane will be oiled with the Shark and the right lane with the Cheetah.
Angelo thinks the mixed format will play to his strength because it rewards versatility.
"Our sport is the only sport where you have to play against obstacles that are invisible," said Angelo, who believes his ability to adapt to those invisible obstacles -- the oil patterns and changes in lane conditions -- is one reason he has been one of the most consistent bowlers on Tour the last five seasons even though he has not won.
"I think it plays to my strength, my ability to make changes on the fly," Angelo said.
Angelo made match play in 15 of the 17 tournaments on Tour last year and he cashed on all 17 as he finished 13th in the PBA World Point Rankings. He made the final of the CLR Windy City Classic and earned $60,328 for the season.
Jurek cashed in 17 of 18 events and made match play eight times. Twice he made TV shows and his total earnings were $50,455.
Ciccone cashed in 18 of 19 tournaments and made match play nine times and got to one TV final. He earned $43,520.
Baker, the points leader on the PBA Senior Tour last summer, cashed in all 20 tournaments he entered but made match play only nine times as he earned $39,630.
In addition to the four WNY exempt pros, other local entrants on the PBA World Tournament roster are Lindsay Baker of Amherst (Tom's niece), Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga and Tom Sorce of Blasdell. Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga had not entered as of Friday.
The World, one of the four Tour majors, is a gruelling contest. It consists of three nine-game rounds of qualifying starting next Tuesday. On Friday the top 40 advance to another nine-game round. The top eight bowlers are then seeded to the Super 16 round while the rest advance to the Round of 32 for match play. On Saturday, the eight survivors of the Round of 16 join the eight Super 16 qualifiers for the Super 16 Round. The round of eight on Saturday night will determine the four television finalists (ESPN, 1 p.m., next Sunday).
Celeb bowling on TV
Live bowling on ESPN will not begin until next Sunday, with the finals of the PBA World Championship. At 1 p.m. this Sunday, however, ESPN will show a taped-for-TV show, the Chris Paul Celebrity Invitational, which was bowled last month at AMF Major League Lanes in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Top qualifier Bill Stoddard of Rochester won his second Amateur Bowlers Tour title by defeating Greg Lattuca of Cheektowaga, 232-199, at AMF Thruway Lanes, earning $900 including bonus winnings. Lattuca defeated Michael Clark of Buffalo, 221-216, in the semifinal match. The ABT next heads for Voelker's Lanes next Sunday, with squads at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Entries will close next Friday for the Greater Buffalo USBC Association Women's Senior Singles Tournament at Broadway Sports Center. Entry fee is $15. There will be two divisions, 50-64 and 65 and over.