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GBT Creates a New Home for Senior Bowlers
17 Event Inaugural Tour Leads to Expanded Bowling Season
2007-08 Season to Begin in the Fall

WOODBURY, NY – APR. 30 -- The story of the Generations Pro Bowling Tour’s inaugural season included dominating performances, breakthrough performances, memorable comebacks and the typical challenges facing a new Tour. The new senior professional tour, the brainchild of promoter Steve Sanders, conducted 17 events from October 2006 through April 2007 and distributed nearly $900,000 in prize money. Plans for the second season will be announced shortly with the second year scheduled announced at Bowl Expo in Las Vegas at the end of June.

The GBT kicked-off in the fall with an eight event swing including five events in Michigan and Ohio, and immediately grabbed the attention of the sports world when the legendary Mark Roth won the inaugural GBT title at Bay Lanes in Bay City, Mich. in one of the most exciting finishes in bowling history. Roth ended a three-year retirement to join the new GBT, and it only took one week for him to capture his 37th professional title. Despite nagging back injuries, he ended the season with $32,000 in prize money in 15 events and a new lease on his professional career. Roth will continue his professional competition on the PBA Senior circuit this summer which was expanded by the PBA this year.

The most impressive performance on tour, turned out to be the emergence of David Ozio as the star of senior pro bowling. Ozio dominated the circuit, winning his 50-59 division nine times in 16 events, with three titles (including a major on television in Toledo) and $86,300 in prize money, the most ever by a senior player.

Ozio also set a new single season average record of 231.5 for 486 games, and he did it under very trying personal circumstances. While he was traveling with the tour, his wife Lisa was at home in Texas battling breast cancer. In the end, David having the greatest season ever for a senior bowler was dwarfed by the news that Lisa’s cancer is in remission.

“As a competitor, I was a little disappointed winning only three times in nine chances, but it was a great tour,” said Ozio. “The GBT has stood for progress and delivered the opportunity for senior players to compete at the highest level under a well run organization that has a passion for the sport. I urge all of them to refocus their dedication to the sport and support this tour in the future.”

The GBT also made history by providing a stage for its more mature players to share the spotlight. GBT created two divisions, labeled ‘Senior’, for players age 50-59, and ‘Classic,’ for players 60 or better. Throughout the season, the two groups competed separately side-by-side, then came together in the stepladder finals to bowl for the title. The Classic players won eight times in 17 events.

In the Classic Division, Dale Eagle gave Ozio a great run for bowler of the year honors, winning three titles of his own. Eagle, who turned 61 on April 22, earned $73,050 in prize money, much more than he made as PBA Senior Bowler of the Year in 1999.

Other 60+ standouts in GBT’s first season were Hall of Famers Dave Soutar and Dave Davis, and Jim Brenner. Soutar missed the first eight weeks with a knee injury, but bounced back strong, winning his first GBT title in Wichita and finishing second the following week in Austin.

“All new organizations have a few bugs,” said Soutar, “but this was a well run tour that guaranteed all prize funds and paid them. It’s been tough for us to be off for eight months these past few years, so this tour is a blessing. Now, we get to bowl year round if we get behind their efforts to keep it going. It was a good all around tour.”

One of the most admired players in the sport, Hall of Famer Teata Semiz, also had a very good start with the GBT. The 72-year-old legend cashed in 10 of the 11 events he bowled, earning a very respectable $14,525 while posting a 213.8 average for the season.

Another major accomplishment for the GBT was its ability to entice former ‘megabuck’ bowlers to launch a new career in the pro ranks. Vinnie Atria, who won more than a half million dollars as an amateur, joined the tour and proved his prowess with the professionals. The Louisville native won the first GBT event he bowled in Jackson, MI and finished the season in style winning the tour’s final event of the season in Houston for his second title.

Atria bowled in eight GBT events, earning $43,500. He averaged 220.6 for 237 games of GBT competition. Two other amateurs who turned pro with the GBT were Brian Breazeau and Kerry Painter. Brazeau won a GBT title in Lansing, Mich., and Painter won in Boardman, Oh. Megabuck stars Mark Estes and Dennis Psaropoulos also turned in fine performances in GBT events.

Although the final look of the inaugural season was different than first envisioned, the result was the same. After the inaugural eight-event swing, Sanders and his staff altered the schedule and format to better fit the needs and demands of senior bowlers. Regardless of the changes, the GBT paid out all advertised prize funds which allowed the top 9 money leaders to earn more than $20,000 and the top 25 cashers to earn in excess of $10,000!

The GBT averaged 68 entries per event including three sold-out events in Florida in January and one in Ft. Wayne in March. In the first season, 57% of the players bowled in the 50-59 division, and 43% in the 60+ group. In all, 342 different bowlers competed with 156 becoming full time GBT members.

The GBT introduced many new pro-am formats to meet the needs of bowling center proprietors, senior bowlers and amateurs. One thing is certain, the kids and adults that bowled alongside the GBT pros will remember their experiences. They will cherish their autographed photos, and laugh and smile when they talk about the antics of ‘GEE BEE’, the tour’s giant bowling pin mascot.

Another immeasurable success of the new tour has been its media impact. The tour garnered extensive print and electronic coverage at almost every event, and captured attention in the mainstream and industry media. Bowling papers and magazines across the country covered the tour, and more than a dozen television stations featured GBT event stories ranging from sports reports to three-hour morning shows.

The GBT was also a success on the internet as its website, gbtour.com received millions of hits, and sites like bowl.com, bowlersjournal.com, bowlingdigital.com, and many others posted results and stories of the GBT. The tour was also featured on the bowling internet radio show, Phantom Radio.

In addition to local television event coverage, the GBT also has its first televised event as the ABC affiliate in Toledo showed the finals of Tour’s first major event and ran it live to their local market. Hall of Famer Nelson Burton Jr., who worked as the voice of pro bowling alongside sports broadcast legend Chris Schenkel for 22 years, returned to the mike to call the show with Toledo sports anchor Rob Powers. Ozio won the title and the $25,000 top prize. A DVD of that two-hour show is now available for purchase.

To insure growth for the 2007-08 season, the GBT is currently surveying its members, host proprietors and other bowling industry experts. The details for next season will be announced at Bowl Expo in Las Vegas. For more information and complete season stats, visit the website, or call toll free 1-888-GBT-BOWL (428-2695).

2006-2007 Event Results

Date

Event

Champion

April 20, 2007

2007 GBT Grand Championships

Vinnie Atria *

April 13, 2007

2007 Texas Open

David Ozio

April 6, 2007

2007 Wichita Open

Dave Soutar *

March 16, 2007

2007 Columbus Open

Dave Davis *

March 9, 2007

2007 Indiana Open

Brian Brazeau

March 2, 2007

2007 Michigan Open

Dale Eagle *

January 29, 2007

2007 Orlando Open

James Brenner *

January 22, 2007

2007 Treasure Coast Open

Dale Eagle *

January 16, 2007

2007 Kegel Classic

Michael Henry

November 21, 2006

2006 Eash Providence Open

Dale Eagle *

November 15, 2006

2006 Long Island Open

Steve Ferraro

November 8, 2006

2006 Johnny Petraglia Open To Benefit BVL

David Ozio

November 1, 2006

2006 Boardman Challenge

Kerry Painter

October 25, 2006

2006 Toledo Classic

David Ozio

October 18, 2006

2006 Jackson Open

Vinnie Atria *

October 11, 2006

2006 Detroit Open

Dave Patchen

October 5, 2006

2006 Bay City Open

Mark Roth

 

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Last Modified July 7, 2009
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