The PBA World Championship wraps up Sunday at South Point Bowling Center in Las Vegas, leaving the stage for next week's PBA Tournament of Champions across town at Red Rock Resort.
With a $250,000 first prize, the T of C is advertised as the richest prize in PBA history. The total prize fund is $1 million.
Six pros with Buffalo area ties are entered in the expanded field under a revamped format. More than 170 men and women are entered in all.
Brad Angelo of Lockport, Jack Jurek of Lackawanna, Joe Ciccone of Buffalo, Buffalo native Tom Baker of King, N.C., and Ryan Ciminelli and Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga will be among those shooting for the top prize.
History was made in last year's T of C when Kelly Kulick defeated Chris Barnes, 265-195, in the finals. Kulick became the first woman to win a PBA Tour major title. It was the second time Barnes lost in the final of the T of C, adding to his reputation of being a frequent victim in tournament finals. In 2008, at Red Rock, Barnes saw a 52-pin lead disappear against Michael Haugen Jr. of Carefree, Ariz.
Barnes did win the 2006 T of C at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn., and has 12 titles and 22 second-place finishes on his resume.
Another story line is Walter Ray Williams' quest for his Tournament of Champions title. It's about the only thing missing from a career record that includes a record 47 titles.
Also, Jason Couch will be seeking an unprecedented fourth T of C title.
Yet another angle is the PBA's return (for one Saturday at least) to ABC television for the first time since 1997. The T of C stepladder finals will be shown live at 2:30 p.m. next Saturday.
The tournament format includes two fields -- the Champions Field and the Elite Field. The Champions Field includes players who have won four or fewer PBA titles or a PBA Regional, PBA Women's Series, PBA Senior Tour or PBA Senior Regional title as of Jan. 9. The Champions Field will bowl two seven-game qualifying rounds Sunday and Monday to determine which players will join the Elite Field.
The Elite Field includes the 2010-11 Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour exempt players, any players listed among the "50 Greatest Players in PBA History" and any player who has won five or more tour titles, a PBA major and winners of the 2010 PBA Senior U.S. Open, Senior USBC Masters, PBA Regional Players Championship and the Regional Players Invitational.
> Top bowlers named
Kelly Kulick was named the 2010 World Bowling Writers Women's Bowler of the Year. Besides the Tournament of Champions, Kulick won both women's bowling majors in 2010, the USBC Queens and the U.S. Women's Open.
England's Dominic Barrett was named the World Bowling Writers Men's Bowler of the Year.
> Deadline nearing
Feb. 4 is the prepaid entry deadline for the Greater Buffalo USBC Association's Me & Mine Handicap Tournament. It will be held at Broadway Sports Center on Feb. 12-13 and 19-20 with squads at 1, 3:30 and 6 p.m. This is the first time an evening squad will be bowled.
Last year there were 42 entries to the event. There are two divisions, Open and Husband and Wife. Advance entries are $24. Walk-in entries are $28.
Entry forms will soon be available for the GBUSBC Stan Kowalski Senior Open at Kens Avenue Bowling Center on April 16-17, and the GBUSBC Open and Women's Championships from April 26 to May 7 at AMF Airport Lanes.