It was big news when the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) announced earlier this year that they would be returning to the Milwaukee area for a multi-tournament event which would award four titles plus a special "made for television" king-of-the-hill event. This was their first appearance in the Milwaukee area since 2007.
The PBA was wise in setting up the format with three tournaments being held consecutively at three different bowling centers in the Milwaukee area.
The first three title events (Badger, Wolf and Bear) involved 10 games of qualifying, with the top 24 advancing to bowl 16 games of match play. The top five based on total pinfall would advance to the televised championship round.
The PBA Milwaukee Open field was determined by adding together the 10 games from each of the three prior events' qualifying rounds with the 28 cashing players advancing to bowl an additional five game qualifying block before cutting to the top 24 players who bowled 16 games of matchplay. The top five bowlers based on total pinfall after a total of 51 games would move on to that event's televised championship round. (Have I lost you yet?)
The king-of-the hill event will feature the four winners of the previous events plus the total points leader after these four events are concluded.
Because of the unique nature of the Milwaukee Summer Swing Series, the championship rounds were all taped for delayed broadcast on CBS Sports, beginning on Tuesday, June 11th and running for five consecutive weeks.
Well enough about the competition formats.
I was fortunate to be able to squeeze in a day of viewing during the Lucas Oil PBA Badger Open contested at the AMF Waukesha Bowling Center. With 91 entries, they were able to consolidate the two rounds of qualifying into a single squad. That made for easier viewing as all players would be bowling across the 48 lane house.
I spent a good amount of time watching the stars of the game, including Bill O'Neill's opening perfect 300 game, followed up with the next 9 strikes for 279. Not a bad start, although he failed to make the televised championship round.
I also enjoyed spending time watching Michael Haugen Jr, Parker Bohn III, Norm Duke, and Pete Weber. Some games were very good and others . . . well . . . not so much. There were also a number of future stars including Tommy Hess, Jason Sterner and the only female competitor, Missy Parkin.
There were several international players bowling including two-handers Jason Belmonte from Australia and Osku Palermaa from Finland. "Mr. Bean" (Rowan Atkinson) look-alike Dom Barrett from England, Andres Gomez of Columbia and Patrick Girard from "north of the border" (Canada) added to the international flavor of the event.
For anyone who bowls or is interested in the sport, I would encourage you to check out their upcoming fall schedule on www.pba.com and attend an event. In no other sport can fans have the opportunity for personal contact with the atheletes. Admission prices vary based on venue and the competition you attend. For the first round of qualifying at the Badger Open, it was just $10. Spectators attending matchplay paid $15 and tickets for the taping of the championship round started at $35.
Here is the full upcoming television schedule to include the players who will be competing for the titles and prize money:
CBS SPORTS NETWORK ON TUESDAY, JUNE 11, 7 P.M. ET
(Encore presentations: June 11, 10 p.m. ET; June 12, 4 p.m. ET)
Lucas Oil PBA Badger Open
1, Josh Blanchard, Gilbert, Ariz.
2, Jake Peters, Decatur, Ill.
3, a-Aaron Lorincz, Belleville, Mich.
4, Michael Haugen Jr., Phoenix.
5, Kurt Pilon, Warren, Mich.
CBS SPORTS NETWORK ON TUESDAY, JUNE 18, 7 P.M. ET
Lucas Oil PBA Wolf Open
1, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio.
2, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla.
3, E.J. Tackett, Huntington, Ind.
4, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo.
5, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa.
CBS SPORTS NETWORK ON TUESDAY, JUNE 25, 7 P.M. ET
Lucas Oil PBA Bear Open
1, Jason Belmonte, Australia.
2, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas.
3, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio.
4, Dan MacLelland, Canada.
5, Tom Hess, Urbandale, Iowa.
CBS SPORTS NETWORK ON TUESDAY, JULY 2, 7 P.M. ET
Lucas Oil PBA Milwaukee Open
1, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas.
2, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo.
3, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla.
4, Mike Fagan, Fort Worth, Texas.
5, Jason Sterner, McDonough, Ga.
CBS SPORTS NETWORK ON TUESDAY, JULY 9, 7 P.M. ET
GEICO PBA Summer King of the Swing presented by Lucas Oil
(NOTE: The stepladder order among event winners will be based upon how each player ranked on the Summer Swing competition points list; if any player wins more than one event, the runner-up in that event will earn a berth in the King of the Swing stepladder finals. Chris Barnes, as points leader for the Summer Swing, is guaranteed a berth in the King of the Swing finals)
Badger Open winner
Wolf Open winner
Bear Open winner
Milwaukee Open winner
Wild Card: GEICO PBA Summer Swing points leader