INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – It’s been just over six years since the Professional Bowlers Association has graced the lanes of the Treasure Coast and after their experience at Vero Bowl it probably won’t be their last. Some of the top professional bowlers in the world were in Vero Beach this weekend to compete for the $3,400 cash prize.
Sam Zurich has been a professional bowler for over 30 years and is currently the South Regional Tournament Director for the Professional Bowlers Association.
“The PBA has been in business since the 1950s. It’s a premiere sports organization for the sport of bowling,” Zurich said. “We pride ourselves in maintaining the integrity of the sport and the game and we’re proud to have this event right here in Vero Beach.”
Zurich also stated that Vero Bowl added to the cash purse to secure the event.
“We heard about all of the renovations to the facility and we were able to strike a deal and Vero Bowl stepped up to the plate,” Zurich said. “It’s one of the finest establishments in the state of Florida and it’s centrally located. That coupled with the fact Vero Bowl put up more money than a regular regional host normally would to have a bigger prize for the pros. That was a big draw to attract the big names and we jumped at the opportunity.”
Craig Borgman has been the General Manager at Vero Bowl since its inception two years ago. Borgman came up with the idea for the PBA to return to the Treasure Coast when the North Carolina venue was paired with the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
“The PBA usually holds an annual tournament in North Carolina during the Labor Day weekend,” Borgman said. “All of the hotels were booked for the DNC so I asked the owner Michael Rechter if he would like to try and bring the Professional Bowlers Association to Vero Beach for their regional tournament and he said, ‘Make it happen.’”
And make it happen they did. Over 70 professional bowlers, and their families, set up their pins in Vero Beach for the four-day Southern Regional tournament with the top bowler taking home $3,400 in prize money.
Dale Coleman, of Gainesville, is currently in the driver’s seat finishing first in the two-day qualifier. Coleman said the tournament and the venue are exceptional.
“This tournament has one of the highest levels of competition,” Coleman said. “This is a great facility. It’s one of the nicest facilities we’ve stopped at on the tour. The hosts have been great to us, bending over backwards to make sure we have everything we need.”
The PBA is also conducting an instructional tournament hosted by Walter Ray Williams Jr. Williams boasts 47 PBA titles, is a member of the PBA Hall of Fame, and is currently in fifth place.
“It’s nice to be able to bowl in Florida. I live in Florida so it’s great for me,” Williams said. “This is a nice open facility, perfect for a tournament. There are a lot of good players in the Southern Region and I hope to move up tomorrow.”
Borgman said there are plans to have the PBA back next year.
“Everything has gone better than expected and we have received numerous compliments,” Borgman said. “The staff and I have been preparing for this tournament for six months to make sure everything would be perfect. We are currently working with the PBA on securing an annual tournament here at Vero Bowl.”