Only the best of the best will be on the lanes in Fairlawn for the Professional Bowling Association’s Tournament of Champions (TOC).
The TOC is the third of five ‘major’ titles at stake on the PBA Tour and begins Monday at AMF Riviera Lanes. Bowlers will partake in three days of qualifying prior to match play. The stepladder finals will air live on FOX at 1 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, Feb. 27.
The field is restricted to 72 bowlers, all past or current PBA champions.
The PBA’s Tournament of Champions has been the site of some of the most memorable moments in bowling history, including Kelly Kulick’s historic win in 2010 when she became the first woman to win a standard PBA Tour event.
Additionally, Pete Weber’s triumph in 2013 made him the first PBA bowler to win the Triple Crown twice in his career.
The event started in 1962 and the winner takes home a $100,000 cash prize.
Legal sports betting is not yet live in Ohio, but only months away from launching as Governor Mike DeWine signed off on a bill just last year.
What’s the format for the Tournament of Champions?
The Tournament of Champions is a true test of a bowler’s stamina and strength. On the first two days, qualifying begins at 5:30 p.m. with each bowler rolling six games.
The top 24 bowlers will advance to the three rounds of match play, which means eight more games starting at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.
The top five advance to the stepladder finals, where the No. 5 seed faces the No. 4 seed head-to-head with the winner advancing to face the No. 3 seed. That winner meets the No. 2 seed, and the No. 1 seed only has to win one game in order to win the entire tournament.
How can I watch the Tournament of Champions?
All qualifying and match-play rounds can be seen on FloBowling through Feb. 25. The five-player stepladder finals will air live on FOX.
There are also several YouTube channels that will have player-created content throughout the week. These include Brad and Kyle, run by Brad Miller and Kyle Sherman, and The House, which features 2020 Tournament of Champions winner Kris Prather and two-handed lefty Packy Hanrahan.
Who are the top contenders to win the TOC?
Simonsen is coming off a victory in the 2022 U.S. Open and is currently second on the this year’s PBA money list. Simonsen, a two-hander, has won three career majors and six standard titles.
The right-handed Canadian is the defending champion, having edged Sean Rash in the final game of the stepladder, 225-209. Lavoie is seeking his fourth major title.
Belmonte has won 13 major championships, including the TOC in 2014, 2015, 2019. Any time he is on the lanes, he’s a threat to win.
Via comes from nearby Springfield, Ohio and the 29-year old grabbed his first major title in 2021 when he claimed the US Open. Via was the 2016 US Amateur Champion.
The one and only PDW retired from full-time PBA Tour competition in 2021 but continues to bowl in major events such as the Tournament of Champions. Weber has won 40 PBA events in his career.
When he won his first TOC title in 1987, he was the youngest player to ever win it (24). When he won his second TOC title, he was the oldest (51).
What are the five PBA majors?
This year’s locations:
- The PBA Players Championships (Richmond, VA)
- The U.S. Open (Indianapolis)
- The Tournament of Champions (Fairlawn, OH)
- The PBA World Championships (Wauwatosa, Wis.)
- The USBC Masters (Las Vegas)
Last five TOC winners
- 2021: Francois Lavoie
- 2020: Kris Prather
- 2019: Jason Belmonte
- 2018: Matt O’Grady
- 2017: E. J. Tackett
Stay tuned for launch news in Ohio to know when Ohio residents will be able to bet on sports like the PBA’s TOC.