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NEWCOMER NEUMANN, VETERAN BAKER TOP AREA FIELD FOR PBA TOUR

Four-time ABC champion Mike Neumann will be making his Professional Bowlers Association debut . . . veteran Tom Baker will be starting his 13th season . . . Brad Kiszewski will begin his second full season . . . Dave Guindon has taken a completely new attitude . . . others, like Jack Jurek and Fran Bax, will make numerous tour stops.

That's the situation for six of the Western New Yorkers who will be on the PBA tour that opens its 1991 winter season with the $175,000 AC Delco Classic Jan. 7-12 at Torrance, Calif.

There are, of course, a few area bowlers who make occasional tour stops, such as Mike Faliero, John Reith, Glenn Worthy and Mark Valenti.

Four -- Neumann, Baker, Kiszewski and Guindon -- definitely will be making the first three stops -- two in California and one at Las Vegas, Nev.

For the aforementioned quartet, it's definitely a big challenge.

For Neumann, in particular, the mental adjustment may be difficult, but the 23-year-old Cheektowaga right-hander is confident after tying an all-time record by winning four ABC titles and the $45,000 Super Bowl High Roller, a megabucks tournament at Las Vegas.

"I'm not going to change my style. The way I throw the ball has got me where I am," said Neumann, who has 25 sanctioned 300s to his credit, along with winning four Eagles at the 1990 ABC at Reno, Nev.

Neumann won the individual all-events (2,186, a 240.89 average) and paired with Bob Ujvari to win the doubles (1,448). His 707 led the Brunswick Rhinos' No. 1 team to a share (with a Detroit aggregate) of the team title with 3,201 and it added the all-events title (10,025) after finishing second last year with 10,052.

To be eligible to bowl on the tour, there are two PBA mandates for rookies: cashing in two regionals (which Neumann did) and attending the three-day PBA school, which Neumann plans to do before the tournament at Torrance.

"I'm not trying to impress anyone," he said. "I'm sure if I bowl to my abilities, I'll do fine. I wasn't sure until this year that I really was going out on tour. I didn't want to make that move too early in my career; I wanted to get some experience before I went out. I wanted to prove myself on the megabucks circuit. I had to prove to myself I can bowl against the best bowlers in the world.

"I know it's a different game out there (PBA tour). You have to hit your target. I credit most of my success to Dave Brown (general manager at Southside), who taught me how to target and straighten out the second shot to convert spares."

In his second year at Erie Community College, Neumann helped coach Kerm Helmer's Kats win both the National Junior College Athletic Association and the National Collegiate Championship titles, the latter against four-year schools.

Baker, a 36-year-old North Buffalo resident who holds several PBA records and has seven PBA titles, has made a major adjustment after a disappointing 1990 season in which he competed in 33 tournaments and earned $36,522.

"I've switched to a 15-pound ball, which means I have to buy all new equipment," said Baker, whose confidence has been boosted since making the change. "I'm sure I'm going to do better. It will help my endurance and pick up my speed."

Baker averaged 216 at the Touring Players Championship at Taylor Mich., but didn't cash.

Kiszewski, in the running for PBA rookie of the year honors, competed in 30 PBA tourneys in 1990, his first year on the tour, for $27,206 in earnings and an average of 211.

"The biggest thing out there is your mental approach," said the smooth-stroking Cheektowaga right-hander who has learned a lot in his first year on the tour. "Tommy (Baker) told me not to let the varying conditions bother you; just learn to live with them."

Guindon, 23, a powerful West Seneca right-hander, has made some physical and mental changes.

"I'm using a lot more loft and extension on my ball, which helps to keep my swing and release consistent," said Guindon, who at 18 was the youngest ever to win a Buffalo Masters title. "I think I have the confidence now to handle all lanes conditions."

Jurek, the Lackawanna right-hander who was a winter tour regular in 1987-89, has improved his game to be more versatile.

"It was a long learning process," said Jurek, 27, who appeared in 21 PBA events in 1990, averaging 209.1 for $9,260 in earnings.

Bax is a veteran Niagara Falls classic leaguer with a career high of 247-300-300-847.

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