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Medford will again be a PBA Tour stop

After catching my breath from a couple weeks immersed in the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour event here, it's time to tie a bow on things:


FIRST THINGS FIRST, the Bayer Earl Anthony Medford Classic will be back next year (and no doubt will have more title sponsors I'll feel compelled to include in the official name).

Ric Donnelly of Lava Lanes and the Medford Visitors and Convention Bureau contracted with the PBA last March on a two-year deal, with an option for a third year. I'd actually forgotten that — it's tough getting old — until PBA Commissioner Fred Schreyer needled me about it during the tourney.

This was the eighth straight season for the event, which ties for the longest running regular stop on tour. Scheduling for the ninth version won't be known until after this season, as is customary.

It does look like Reno won't be a stop to start the second half next season, so we're not sure exactly where Medford will fall. Donnelly and Co. want it about the same time after the holidays, and that seems a pretty safe bet given the PBA's desire to work with its best supporters.


I HAD A long phone conversation with Tom Clark, who was named vice president and chief operating officer of the PBA just weeks after the deal was struck to bring the tour back to Medford.

Among the things we talked about were the many changes in tournament format and lane conditions being unveiled this year. A lot of it has to do with the 50th-year celebration, but some of it will continue in coming years.

The players and everyone involved in the PBA has to realize that "business as usual" isn't going to work, he said.

"There has to be some changes for us to grow," said Clark. "The model has to look a little different."

A fresh look, theoretically, will bring new audience members and much-needed attention.

"Essentially, we're ignored by the media," said Clark, once an accomplished big-market sports writer. "A lot of things have to be done, and we can't be afraid to do them. I think everybody knows and understands what's at stake. We'll weigh the pros and cons, but we're better off taking risks rather than resting on any laurels."

Among the things thrown against the wall: an ultimate scoring tournament, a controversial plastic ball event, multiple oil patterns during the same event.

Sometimes the changes seem bigger than they are. Take the ultimate scoring event, for instance. There's always a stop or two where scores are high, like Erie, Pa., said Clark.

"We just called it what it is," he said. "We branded the event a certain way."

The plastic ball, the oil patterns, the house pattern at the ultimate scoring event, they all give the PBA a chance to educate followers on advancements in equipment and drive home the point that the game isn't as simple as it looks.

There are reasons, Clark says, that Marshall Holman can have a higher average bowling once a week in league than he did when he was the best player in the world. New formats bring those explanations to light.

Certainly, not all the players are cool with change.

Plastic balls, for instance, which don't react at all like today's equipment, will be used next month for an event in the midst of the season and will require a different approach. Some players are worried it'll mess them up at a critical juncture.

Clark likened it to pro golfers going to the British Open and using punch 5-irons off the tee and putters from well off the greens.

"People who are psyching themselves out because of the format, I don't know that they're approaching it the right way," said Clark.

Shrinking from a challenge rather than embracing it, "To me," said Clark, "that's not being real professional."

The beauty is, since the plastic ball event was announced, there's been a lot of talk about it.

Attention is good.


I'VE WRITTEN A few things about Brad Angelo over the years but didn't get a chance to feature him this time. And this was his first visit here as a tour champion.

Until winning in the first half of the season, Angelo was the best active player without a title.

In a chat away from the lanes, he said winning hadn't changed him, although it was exceedingly nice to get that monkey off his back. He changed well before, he said, after reading "The Shack." It's a Christian fiction book, by a Portland-area salesman, that became an instant best seller. I've not read it, but it apparently had quite an effect on Angelo.

The author, who lives in Gresham, was inspired by Multnomah Falls. Angelo didn't say if he made the trip north to see the natural wonder while here.

Angelo, who lives in Lockport, N.Y., held a camp at Lava Lanes last summer. The response was good and he plans to do it again.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 776-4479, or e-mail ttrower@mailtribune.com

Wes Malott is the Earl Anthony Medford Classic's only two-time winner.