A contingent of 29 Professional Bowlers Association competitors, including 20 invitees and nine PTQ hopefuls, are headed to Tokyo for the start of the 28th Round1 Japan Cup at Minami Suna Round 1 in Tokyo, hoping to return the prestigious Japan Cup to PBA hands.
The Round1 Japan Cup field includes 16 PBA Tour players who qualified, based upon competition points, four players invited by the hosts, and nine players who will bowl in a “pre-tournament qualifier” on Wednesday in hopes of joining the 20 invited players in the tournament field.
Players who are exempt from the PTQ include Ebonite’s Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, SC, a 3-time Japan Cup champion (2004, 2005, 2010), Hammer’s Bill O’Neill, Track’s Mika Koivuniemi, Harland, MI, a 2-time Japan Cup Champion (2007, 2012) and Dan MacLelland, Canada.
Players entered in the PTQ are Columbia 300 Pro Staff players, Josh Blanchard, Gilbert, AZ and Scott Norton, Mission Viejo, CA, along with Track’s Thomas Larsen, Denmark.
The Japan Cup is currently in the hands of Japan’s Yuya Katoh, who defeated countryman Kazuaki Watanabe, 243-235, in the first all-Japan title match in the entry’s 27-year history. In doing so, Katoh became the first Japanese player to win the Cup in 25 years.
Competition begins Thursday, when all players will be divided into A and B squads to bowl two five-game qualifying rounds to determine the 64 match play finalists. The 20 invited PBA players will be divided equally with 10 players assigned to each squad. After qualifying, the top 32 from each squad will advance to Friday’s best-of-five-game; single-elimination match play finals which will cull the field to the top eight for Saturday’s finals.