Bowling: PBA super regional coming to Tinley Park
By Steve T. Gorches Sun-Times Media July 16, 2013 9:34PM
Updated: August 19, 2013 2:31PM
It’s been just six months since Tim Kelly bought Tinley Park Bowl, but it didn’t take long for the new owner to make a huge impression on the area’s bowling community.
Starting Thursday, the 51-year-old center (it was under the previous ownership for 50½ of those years) will host the Professional Bowlers Association IGrind Autism Awareness Classic regional tournament. It’s not the first time a PBA regional has been in the Chicago area — Stardust Bowl II in Hobart, Ind., hosted the Regional Players Championship five years ago and Willowbrook and Lynwood have hosted smaller regionals in recent years. But this is no ordinary regional.
In fact, it’s being called one of a handful of “super regionals” taking place to get more interest in the PBA and provide more prize money.
Tinley Park’s event this week will make history with a guaranteed $15,000 first-place prize — the most ever for a PBA regional.
As a former PBA member and longtime bowler, Kelly knows the importance of the PBA and the trickle-down effect it has in the bowling community.
“I think we need to promote every aspect of bowling,” he said. “The sport is not dying, but you need younger minds in it who don’t think it’s the 1970s. Our core ownership here are all bowlers through and through.
“The biggest challenge in hosting a PBA event is figuring out how to make your money back. Lucky for me, IGrind is putting up most of the money.”
IGrind is a fairly new bowling apparel and accessory company that originated on the Internet and has a lofty goal of being “committed to revolutionizing the sport of bowling” according to its website.
“They want to help bowlers make the kind of money they deserve,” Kelly said of IGrind.
That won’t be an issue when qualifying begins Friday. In addition to the $15,000 first prize — more than the $12,500 paid in the most recent super regional and $10,000 or so paid at the RPC in Northwest Indiana — the lowest cashing spot will be $500.
The lucrative prize fund means big national names will be on hand. According to Kelly, that includes player of the year candidates Jason Belmonte (the two-handed star from Australia); Chris Barnes, who just won earlier this summer in Milwaukee; reigning player of the year Sean Rash, from nearby Montgomery, Ill.; and Dyer, Ind., native and Chicago resident Diandra Asbaty.
Pro-ams that allow amateurs to compete with the pros will be at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Thursday.