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When it was announced that the 2011 PBA Tournament of Champions would be open to anyone who had won any PBA tournament and feature a $250,000 top prize and $1 million prize fund, I was obviously intrigued.

I was mainly curious about two things: what would be the categories for champions and what would be the format for the tournament, which will be Jan. 16-22 at palatial Red Rock Lanes in Las Vegas.

On Friday, the PBA answered those questions in this news release.

I was mildly disappointed in the categories for champions, since I was selfishly hoping that my 28 Regional titles and 1 Regional Major title would put me in an intermediary category higher than, for example, someone with just one Regional title.

Instead, there will be just two categories -- "Champions" and "Elite" -- which I do understand considering the format.

According to the news release, the "Elite field" will be composed of: 2010-11 Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour exempt players; any player who was listed among the "50 Greatest Players in PBA History" during the PBA Tour's 50th anniversary celebration in 2009; any PBA Hall of Famer; any player who has won five or more PBA Tour titles; any player who has won a PBA major championship; the 2010 PBA Senior U.S. Open and USBC Senior Masters champions, and the 2010 PBA Regional Players Championship and Regional Players Invitational winners.

All other PBA title winners, up to a maximum of 180, will make up the "Champions" field. The Champions field will include players who have won four or fewer PBA Tour titles or a PBA regional, PBA Women's Series, PBA Senior Tour or PBA Senior Regional title as of Jan. 9, 2011.

Titles won by players who were not PBA members when they won do not count, even if they later join the PBA. And members must be "Full" PBA members - the highest category -- as of Oct. 1, 2010. With my hip injury and stint on the disabled list, I am just a "Standard" member this year -- meaning I can bowl only three Regionals -- and would have to upgrade, which I would have done if I wanted to bowl the TOC.

The Champions field will bowl 14 games -- two seven-game qualifying rounds each on Jan. 16 and 17. The top half of the Champions field (up to 90 players) will then join the Elite field, with pinfall being dropped.

In essence, the Champions field bowls a "Rabbit Squad."

The Elite field -- including Champions field qualifiers and Elite players -- then begins qualifying the night of Jan. 17.

All bowlers will bowl 20 games in four 5-game blocks to determine the top 54 (based on 216 entries) who will advance into the Cashers Round.

After two eight-game blocks in the Cashers Round, the top 24 based on 36 total games will advance to a traditional 24 games of round-robin match play. The top four bowlers then make the TV finals.

If you're keeping track, that would be 34 games (plus practice) just to cash, 16 more games to make match play, then 24 games of match play.

My creaky, three-times-operated-on wrist probably could make the 34 games OK, but would be way too sore and stiff to be competitive for 16 or 40 more games.

So essentially I'd be paying the $750 entry fee ($1,000 after Dec. 15) with my best performance likely earning me a low cashing spot - and while last cash is a hefty $2,500 (based on 216 entries) that's just not a logical equation.

So as much as I'd enjoy a tax deductible week in Vegas in January competing with the greatest bowlers in the world at an awesome tournament, it just doesn't make sense to spend a week's worth of precious vacation days that way.

In addition to the $250,000 top prize, second will be $100,000, third $60,000, and fourth $40,000.

The PBA previously announced that the TV finals will be live on ABC-TV on Sat., Jan. 22, and the PBA Hall of Fame dinner will be held that night.

2011 PBA TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS

Red Rock Resort, Las Vegas, Nev., Jan. 15-22

(all times Pacific)

Saturday, Jan. 15

9 and 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m. - Pro-Am squads

4:30 p.m. - Autograph sessions

6:30 p.m. - Champions field practice

Sunday, Jan. 16

9 a.m. - Elite field practice

1 p.m. - Champions field, 7 qualifying games

Monday, Jan. 17

8 a.m. - Champions field, 7 qualifying games

Top half after 14 games advance to Elite field

4 p.m. - Squad A, 5 qualifying games

7 p.m. - Squad B, 5 qualifying games

Tuesday, Jan. 18

8 a.m. - Squad B, 5 qualifying games

11 a.m. - Squad A, 5 qualifying games

4 p.m. - Squad B, 5 qualifying games

7 p.m. - Squad A, 5 qualifying games

Wednesday, Jan. 19

8 a.m. - Squad A, 5 qualifying games

11 a.m. - Squad B, 5 qualifying games

top 54 (based on 216 entries) after 20 games advances to Cashers Round

5 p.m. - Cashers Round 1, 8 qualifying games

Thursday, Jan. 20

10 a.m. - Cashers Round 2, 8 qualifying games

Top 24 after 36 games advance to round robin match play

5 p.m. - Top 24, 8 match play games

Friday, Jan. 21

11 a.m. - Top 24, 8 match play games

5 p.m. - Top 24, 8 match play games

Top 4 advance after 60 games advance to stepladder finals

Saturday, Jan. 22

tba - Top 4 stepladder finals

7 p.m. - PBA Hall of Fame dinner

 

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