If it all works out, Jack Jurek of Lackawanna could find himself commuting between suburban Cleveland and South Buffalo next weekend to bowl in two pro tournaments.
Jurek is scheduled to defend his title -- and his PBA Central Region points lead -- in the Recckio's Open here next Saturday and Sunday. However, he also is entered in the qualifier Wednesday for the Uniroyal Tire Classic in Wickliffe, Ohio, one of Cleveland's eastern suburbs. Four places in the 64-bowler Uniroyal field will be available in the qualifier. If Jurek lands one of the four spots, advances through four rounds of match play Thursday and Friday and makes Sunday's televised finals, he would have a nice problem. The finals at Recckio's and the finals in Ohio are scheduled at about the same time.
Getting to a show on the PBA Tour is every pro bowler's goal and worth at least $10,000 and perhaps as much as $40,000 with a berth in the Tournament of Champions.
Jurek, though, is the Central Region points leader, and if he holds the top spot through the end of March he would earn an exemption to the 2005-06 regional tour, worth a minimum of $40,000 just for showing up for the 20 Tour events.
"That would be a nice problem to have," Jurek agrees, but he probably would lean toward bowling in the big show in Ohio because winning a tour event guarantees a year exemption on next year's tour.
Jurek has won three of the last eight PBA Central Regional stops and has piled up 202,235 points in 15 events. Second-place Riga Kalfas of Florence, Ky., has 179,326 points. Jurek also bowled well in the Miller High Life Masters last weekend in Wisconsin, making it to the third round of match play in the losers' bracket and picking up $1,700.
"I'm probably bowling just about as well as I have ever bowled, although I have had other stretches when I did well before," Jurek said. "I've had a little run of success on the regional tour, and I started to build a little confidence off of that. This game is as much mental as it is physical."
Regional events have become more popular and more important than ever for bowlers with PBA Tour aspirations. It's a byproduct of the PBA's new all-exempt format.
"It's increasing interest, that's for sure," says Russ Mills, PBA East Regional director who will be in charge of the Recckio's tournament because the Central Region director's post has not been filled yet. "What's happening now is that the player who wants to join the tour needs to participate in regional programs to get into the Tour Trial and earn points. It's definitely piqued interest in regional events."
A stronger field with more bowlers is almost certain for the Recckio's Open, as close to big-time tour bowling as we will get this season in Western New York.
The action begins Friday with a practice round, a youth pro-am and regular pro-am event. There will be two squads of qualifying Saturday to determine 16 match-play finalists.
The first two rounds of match play will be best-of-five. The format for the regional finals is different this year. Imitating this year's regular tour format, there will be two single-game matches for the final four and a single-game final.
Pat Brick of Tonawanda finished 139th with 2,939 pins at the Miller High Life Masters. . . . Joe Ciccone and Tom Baker ran into some hot bowling Thursday in the PBA Chicago Open. Ciccone lost to Tore Torgersen of Norway, 4-1, losing games in which he bowled 238 and 234. Bryon Smith of Roseburg, Ore., topped Baker, 4-2, who lost games in which he bowled 237 and 215. . . . The Buffalo Women's Bowling Association will hold its Jo Tourjie Memorial Senior Tournament on Sunday at Airport Lanes. . . . The Youth Bowlers Tour visits the AMF Terrace Gardens in Rochester starting at 9 a.m. Sunday. . . . The Jamestown TV Challenge Qualifier will be Sunday at Jamestown Bowling Company.