PBA Firestone Tournament Of Champions
$100,000 PBA FIRESTONE TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
Firestone Bowlarama, Akron, Ohio, Apr 5-10, 1965
Hardwick Is Firestone Champion
The daddy of them all . . . The richest, most colorful tournament in the history of the game: The Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) $100,000 Firestone Tournament of Champions!
And, the winner! Billy Hardwick! ! !
A festive air and bunting-laden Main St. greeted the 43 champs as they converged on Akron, O. for the Firestone event on April 5, 1965.
A "Champions Banquet" at Firestone Country Club kicked off the gala week. After an afternoon practice session and a pro am tourney, the boys who had recorded titles after the last Tournament of Champions in 1962, began their 24game qualifying sets. There were standing-room-only crowds at Firestone Bowlarama Lanes.
Dick Weber of St. Louis looked the part of the leading PBA tournament winner (14) as he paced the field through the 24-game qualifier and past the 24-game match play semifinals.
Hardwick stayed near the top, being fifth after the first 24. He moved into third and finally to second. Joe Joseph, the defending champion from Lansing, Mich. made the other spot in the televised finals when he wound up third.
Then the grand finale: With $25,000 going to the winner and a nation-wide television audience looking on, Weber and Hardwick strung five strikes apiece in the first of the two-game series. Hardwick went on to post three more strikes after sparing to finish with 258. Weber knocked down 231 pins and Joseph was still in the ball game with 226.
Weber didn't give up but his 237 in the second game couldn't overcome the lead Hardwick carried into the payoff shot. Billy had 226 for a two-game total of 484. Weber was second with 468 and Joseph finished third with 404.
The 23-year-old Hardwick was "in the clouds" as he accepted the 25 grand. And the PBAers were just as high when the Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. announced that there would be a rerun in 1966.
CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES: First Game: Hardwick 258, Weber 231, Joseph 226. Second Game: Weber 237, Hardwick 226, Joseph 178. Hardwick defeated both Weber and Joseph on a total of 484 pins for the two games. Weber had 468, and Joseph had 404. 24 GAMES