The PBA Tour will officially begin its 2021 season next month with an expanded version of the PBA Players Championship that will feature regional qualifying at five sites.
The new format for the PBA Players Championship will allow the PBA to produce six shows from the event in the coming months. In addition, the event will feature a $1 million prize fund with $250,000 going to the champion.
Players will qualify for the PBA Players Championships at regional sites in Tampa, Florida; Richmond, Virginia; Wauwatosa, Wisconsin; Garland, Texas; and Christown, Arizona. Competition from all five regions will be broadcast live exclusively on FloBowling on Jan. 16-17.
Each regional will be limited to 96 entries and players will bowl 28 games of qualifying. The top five players in each region will advance to the regional stepladder finals.
Those advancers will head to Bowlero Jupiter in Florida for the five regional stepladder shows. The West Region finals will air Jan. 24 and will be followed by the Southwest Region (Jan. 31), Central Region (Feb. 6), East Region (Feb. 7) and South Region (Feb. 14). All of those shows will air on FS1 in the United States and on FloBowling internationally.
The winner of each regional stepladder will then advance to the live PBA Players Championship stepladder finals, which will be held Feb. 21 also from Bowlero Jupiter. That show will air at 12:30 p.m. Eastern on FOX (U.S.) and FloBowling (international).
Priority entry into the regionals will be given to the top 75 in points in 2020, Hall of Famers and PBA national and regional champions.
Last year, the PBA Players Championship was held at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl in Columbus, Ohio, with a field of 92 bowlers. At that event, Bill O’Neill won his first major title in 10 years, beating EJ Tackett in the final 233-232.
The format in 2021 would allow for significantly more entries with a possible 480 players competing at the regional level.
The past two seasons, the PBA Tour has had a front-loaded schedule to the year starting in January and running hot through March. The PBA is still expected to add more events to its schedule throughout 2021.
The only other event currently scheduled in the first two months of 2021 is the U.S. Open, which the United States Bowling Congress previously announced would take place the last week of February in the Green Bay area.
USBC also announced recently the USBC Masters, another major on the PBA Tour, would take place in Las Vegas from March 30-April 4.