John Handegard spent nearly half a century bowling with not much to show for his efforts, until last year when he became the PBA Senior Player of the Year.
The 53-year-old right-hander from Las Vegas sat down one day and figured his career earnings. He had bowled in 166 PBA events and earned a little more than $79,000. "That figured out to about $476 per event," Handegard said, "barely enough to make it to the next stop."
Handegard's next stop is this weekend at Seminole Lanes, where he will join 239 fellow pros for the $85,000 Pinellas Suncoast Pinwheel PBA Senior Open.
Handegard has a habit of picking over tournament entry blanks on bowling center desks, then chasing after the events in his motor home.
Sometimes, the results of those forays have been better than on the tour. Just before the 1990 tour opened, Handegard won $8,000 in a non-PBA event, bankrolling his entry fees for the summer. He promptly made two finals, and promptly blew them. "I bowled terribly. I just couldn't get started and I didn't attack the pins the way I should," he said.
Then Handegard got his act together and won two straight, at Hammond, Ind., and Battle Creek, Mich.
Last year he did even better. He won three Senior titles, was second in two others, and cashed in a national PBA stop and a couple of regionals.
For his consistency, Handegard was voted 1991 Senior Player of the Year with earnings of $52,220 and an impressive 221.38 average through 443 games.
This season, Handegard has won the Rocky Mountain Open and finished second three times, his latest last week behind winner Les Zikes at West Palm Beach.
Neither the regular PBA tour nor the PBA senior tour has ever visited Pinellas County. The nearest stops were the $40,000 Sertoma Opens in Tampa in 1967-68. The Sarasota Opens were held in 1977-78. The seniors were in Fort Pierce from 1987-90, and last year ran back-to-back events in Naples and Lady Lake.
The seniors are in Naples this week before moving to Seminole Lanes for the final stop of the season.
High school shakeup: The Gibbs High girls jumped to second and Osceola to third behind leader Northeast after three weeks of Pinellas County High School League action last Thursday.
Two weeks ago, the Gibbs girls were fourth and Osceola fifth, but an outstanding series by Cyndy Wolf and great team play pushed the Gladiators up the standings.
The Seminole boys, also fourth two weeks ago, leaped into the lead off the good showing of Rick Langton and Richie Sancho. The league bowls at area centers every Thursday at 3:30 p.m. Action is at Southland Lanes this Thursday.
Pearson wins NABI: Larry Pearson of Beverly Hills defeated Clearwater's Tim Quick 242-185 to win the NABI Club tournament at Tarpon Lanes on Sunday. Pearson collected $1,000, Quick $500. Events this weekend are at Sunrise Lanes, Bradenton, Orange City and Pensacola.
Around the lanes: Gary Gordon rolled a 298-803, Gary Graber fired a 299-796 and Burl Sharrow recorded a 299-786 at Dunedin Lanes last week. Jon Valesky fired a 290-775 and Tom Reinagel's 289 game was 116 pins over his average at Liberty Lanes.