Robert Gibbs, a hot shooter from Abilene, Texas, stayed ahead of the 32-man field Tuesday at Seminole Lanes in the first match-play round of the $85,000 Pinellas Suncoast Pinwheel PBA Senior Open.
The field bowls eight more match-play games today, starting at 8:30 a.m., with a cut to the top five qualifiers. The stepladder finals will be televised live on ESPN from 7:30 to 9 tonight. The winner earns $8,000. Admission is $7 for the morning session, $10 for tonight's finals.
Gibbs won 11 of his 16 matches Tuesday, averaging 225. He continues to bowl well in Florida; he won his first senior stop last year at Naples and finished third there last week.
Some of the tour's big names crept up in the standings Tuesday. Gene Stus of Allen Park, Mich., 12-3-1 in match play, moved into second. Third is John Hricsina of Franklin, Pa., with an 11-5 mark. Jim Brown of Columbia, Md., stands fourth, and Dave Soutar of Leawood, Kan., is fifth.
Stus has won four senior titles, two this year, and rolled the senior tour's first 300 game on TV _ only the sixth bowler to do so in a PBA event. Hricsina won his second title at Naples last week.
Brown never has won a senior title. Soutar, a member of the PBA and ABC halls of fame and a 17-time PBA tournament winner, has one senior title to his credit.
Hobo Boothe of Canoga Park, Calif., the tournament leader after Sunday's opening day, was 7-9 Tuesday and stands in 10th place.
Dave Davis, an 18-time PBA tour winner from North Palm Beach in his first senior tour year, is 11th. Bowling legend Dick Weber of St. Louis is 15th.
John Handegard of Thousand Oaks, Calif., the tour's 1991 Player of the Year and six-time winner, beat only five opponents and is in 18th place.
Ernie Strandberg of St. Petersburg, the only Suncoast entry, was 4-12 to rank 32nd in the field.
This is the last event of the 12-tournament season for the seniors.