The PBA Tour will return to the Tampa Bay area next year for the first time in nearly 30 years.
Tampa proprietor Bill Morris of Crown Lanes said Wednesday the Comfort Inn Classic will be April 15-19.
Morris said he hopes to hold an arena final, but the site and details have not been finalized. The prize fund, pro-am and sponsors also will be announced later.
Steve Hoskins, Tarpon Springs, won his fourth PBA title at the $300,000 Comfort Inn Classic at Don Carter's All-Star Lanes March 30 in Sunrise. Comfort Inn also offered an extra $25,000 to the winner of a shootout between the tournament winner and a top senior pro. Morris said that, too, would be part of the Tampa event.
The PBA Senior Tour has been established at Seminole Lanes and Sunshine Bowl in Pinellas County for five years and the Brunswick World Team Challenge came to Seminole Lanes four years ago. Central Florida has seen hundreds of PBA southern regional stops.
The PBA last visited Tampa in 1968 with the $40,000 Sertoma Open, won by Jim Stefanich, Joliet, Ill., the first of five titles that year. Then, it was gone.
It wasn't until a six-year stretch starting in 1977 that the tour even came close to the Tampa Bay area with the Sarasota Open. Its champions included Steve Westberg, Steve Martin, Nelson Burton Jr., Bill Coleman, Mike Durbin and Dave Husted. Another nearby event was the 1978 AMF MagicScore Open in Kissimmee, won by Earl Anthony.
The PBA Tour has stopped in Florida every year except 1994 and, with rare exception, in Miami since 1964.
Jerry Krauss, owner of Seminole and Sunrise lanes and Sunshine Bowl, and Morris, who also owns Tampa's Regal Lanes and Unity Lanes in Zephyrhills, are among the most progressive proprietors in the nation. Morris originated the National Classic Bowlers Association to challenge high-average men and women bowlers, and has NCBA franchises across the country. Krauss established a home-and-home bowling festival with the townspeople of Frankfurt, Germany. He also inspired PBA officials to bring the senior tour to his centers.
MACPHERSON'S YEAR: Wendy Macpherson has a stranglehold on the LPBT statistics and the winner of two events this year is experiencing one of her finest seasons.
An eight-time tour winner and 1988 Queens champion, Macpherson, from Henderson, Nev., has earned more than $56,000 this year and cashed in 11 events. She heads the Merit rankings with an 11,775 total. She averages 221 over 398 games, second behind Carolyn Dorin-Ballard, North Richland, Texas, who averages 223.
Macpherson picked up another $9,000 and her second win in the $65,000 Greater Little Rock Classic at Sam's Town in Tunica, Miss. Macpherson had to beat Cindy Coburn-Carroll, Michelle Mullen and Marianne DiRupo before an arena crowd to earn the title. Bradenton's Lisa Wagner finished 27th.
The tour moved to South Carolina for the $65,000 Greater Charleston Open, which ended Thursday. The summer tour ends with the Newport News Classic Monday-Thursday in Virginia.
COUNTRY LANES: Judith and Antonio Franco from Punta Gorda and Tim Miller, junior and senior, from Palm Bay, will represent Florida in the Mendes BPAA National Family Tournament Aug. 1-3 at Brooklyn Center, Minn.
_ Phil Gulick can be reached by e-mail at Xerxes6aol.com, Xerxes6 msn.com and Xerxesworldnet.com.