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Comfort Inn Classic is PBA's richest

The winner of the $320,000 PBA Comfort Inn Classic and one lucky pro-am bowler could walk out of the Tampa Convention Center on April 19 very wealthy people.

If the PBA tournament champion rolls a perfect game during the final match, he will receive not only the $50,000 winner's share, but $1-million. He also could earn another $25,000 for capturing the Winning Never Gets Old side tournament against the top PBA senior pro.

The top four adult pro-am leaders will compete in a one-ball shootout for a 1997 Buick Century, given away by tournament co-sponsor Florida Buick Dealers.

The tournament is the PBA's richest this year, the winner's payoff is among the largest and the $1-million is the biggest bonus ever offered in a PBA event.

Steve Hoskins of Tarpon Springs won the Comfort Inn Classic and $50,000 at Sunrise last year. He just missed a perfect game and another $150,000 in the ninth frame of the final. He lost his chance at $25,000 when PBA senior pro John Handegard beat him in the challenge match.

Opening ceremonies are at 8:45 a.m. April 13 at Tampa's Crown Lanes. The junior and adult pro-am bowlers follow. Monday, a pro tournament qualifier will be held 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Crown Lanes for nonexempt PBA card members _ there's a $200 entry fee _ with the junior pro-am that night.

A full field of 120 pros begins practice at Crown Lanes on Tuesday starting at 9 a.m., followed by final pro-am action that night.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are devoted to pro qualifying with the cut to the top five coming after two eight-game match-play blocks Friday. The ABC-TV finals are at 3 p.m. Saturday in the Convention Center's arena setting.

General admission at Crown Lanes is $5 Sunday and Monday, $7 Tuesday and Wednesday, and $10 Thursday and Friday. Premium seating for the final at the convention center is $20, with $10 general admission. A $30 six-day admission ticket to all Crown Lanes' sessions also is available.

Pro-am entry fees are $80 for adults, $40 for seniors and $30 for juniors. Re-entries are $40 for adults, $20 for seniors and $10 for juniors. A luxury adult entry of $170 includes a Brunswick Zone bowling ball.

Adult pro-am competitors will be shooting for $30,000 in the prize fund, based on 1,000 entries. The top four adult pro-am winners will receive a tour package for two from Comfort Inn and compete for the car. Seniors will shoot for a five-day Bahamas cruise offered by Premier Cruise Line, and juniors are after more than $3,000 in scholarship money. TransWorld Diversified Services is sponsoring the junior pro-am.

Tickets and entry forms are available at Tampa Bay area bowling centers. Ticket and pro-am information may be obtained by calling Crown Lanes at 884-1475.

ABC UPDATE: Dan Ottman Enterprises of Troy, Mich., grabbed the team lead with 3,379 in the championship tournament at Huntsville, Ala. John Socha leads the singles with his record 847 series.

Steve Brinkman and Len Boresch head the doubles with a 1,450 total. Booster team leader is Lucky Lanes No. 1 of Denison, Iowa, with 2,831.

University of Nebraska junior Jeremy Sonnenfeld, who rolled bowling's only sanctioned 900 series recently, was fifth in the all-events. He narrowly missed a 300 game in doubles, leaving a 10-pin. Twelve perfect games have been rolled.

WIBC UPDATE: Home on the Lanes from Brandon is third in the Classic Division team race at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev. Brandon Auto Salvage from Valrico is third in Division I team standings. Clermont's Debra Jones is third in Division II singles with a 612 series.

_ Phil Gulick can be reached at, or