The Professional Bowlers Association and the World Tenpin Bowling Association recently announced an historic agreement that will result in the first true global professional bowling tour.
The alliance between the PBA and the WTBA, the international governing body for tenpin bowling in the eyes of the International Olympic Commit-tee, will allow international and domestic PBA members who compete in World Bowling Tour events to earn PBA Tour titles in WBT events and to bowl in PBA Tour events in the United States.
WTBA President Kevin Dornberger said that the alliance is just the beginning.
“We are greatly indebted to the international bowling federations and tournament hosts who have given us the opportunity to create the World Bowling Tour,” said Dornberger. “We sincerely believe this alliance will lead to even bigger things.” PBA CEO Geoff Reiss said the expanded relationship between the PBA and WTBA has the potential to lead to greater marketing and sponsorship opportunities.
“The PBA is ecstatic over the overwhelming acceptance and support we have received from the World Tenpin Bowling Association’s leadership in making this relationship happen,” Reiss said. “For the sport of bowling, we have literally opened an entire new world of possibilities.”
The agreement was finalized during a meeting in Las Vegas between PBA leadership and WTBA’s Executive Board, including representatives from Sweden, the Netherlands, El Salvador, Finland, Hong Kong, Australia, Denmark, and Chile.
The 2012 World Bowling Tour began in January with the Brunswick Ballmaster Open in Helsinki, Finland, which was won by Bill O’Neill of Southampton, Pa. The PBA-WBT agreement includes three tournaments in the United States (the Alka-Seltzer Plus Liquid Gels United States Bowling Congress Masters, won by Mike Fagan of Dallas in Las Vegas; a new WTBA International Open currently underway in Las Vegas; and the U.S. Open Feb. 20-26 in North Brunswick, New Jersey).
Other events will include stops in Japan, Kuwait, France, the Bahamas, Korea, Thailand, Austria and Australia. Players who bowl in the WBT events will earn points toward the second annual World Bowling Tour Finals presented by the PBA, which will be held during the 2012 PBA World Series of Bowling on a date to be announced.
WBT points are compiled over a cumulative span of two years. The top three men and three top women in WBT points will bowl for $20,000 first prizes in November during the fourth PBA World Series of Bowling. The finals will be televised by ESPN.
Beginning with the U.S. Open, all international and domestic PBA members who win WBT-PBA titles will be eligible to bowl in the end-of-season PBA Tournament of Champions in Las Vegas. PBA members will receive credit for official PBA Tour earnings from WBT events, but will only earn PBA Tour competition points in the USBC Masters and U.S. Open.
A new PBA international membership is available for non-domestic players. For information, call the PBA Membership Services at 206-654-6025.
While several WBT events allow women to compete in their own category, women will be eligible for PBA Tour titles only if they compete as equals against their male counterparts. Two events on the WBT schedule are for women only and will not be part of the PBA agreement.
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