In the first iteration of the PBA50 Tournament of Champions this century, the man who rewrote the PBA TOC record books holds the early lead.

Jason Couch, who won an unprecedented three straight TOC titles from 1999-2002, leads the PBA50 Johnny Petraglia BVL Tournament of Champions through the first round of qualifying.

Couch averaged over 244 to tally a 1,959 eight-game pinfall (+359) at Orange Bowl Lanes in Lakeland, Fla.

Couch finished 51st and averaged about 218 last month on this 46-foot Petraglia pattern at the PBA50 World Series of Bowling. The Florida native said his 30 years of experience competing at Orange Bowl Lanes and his comfortability on longer patterns played a significant factor in his success today.

“It feels like there is more volume this week,” Couch said. “I tend to do better on the longer patterns because I can get my ball to be a little straighter to the front of the lane. My ball tends to roll a lot earlier and so the longer the pattern, it seems to suit me a whole lot more.”

Couch resides just a 45-minute drive away in Clermont. He said the season wrapping up with three consecutive tournaments in his home state has been a huge advantage for him.

“I'm sleeping in my own bed every night and I get to see my family, so without question it definitely helps mentally to stay more focused,” Couch said. “It's awful nice to be able to have family there supporting you when you've been out in [other] parts of the country the whole year. They don't get to see me very often. My wife and two daughters were here today, and then my father is actually coming tomorrow.”

Couch leads Mitch Beasley by 57 pins, followed by Scott Greiner, Danny Wiseman and Tom Adcock. Greiner and Adcock both shot 300 in Game 1 this morning.

Sitting just inside the current cut line are the two contenders for PBA50 Player of the Year.

Troy Lint sits in 31st place at +144 through eight games. He can clinch the award with a 14th place finish this week.

Tom Hess, Lint’s lone challenger, sits 11 pins ahead in 28th place. Hess will need to win the tournament combined with a sub-14th place finish from Lint to surpass Lint in points.

In the Rookie of the Year race, front-runner John Janawicz sits in eighth place at +271. He needs a top-six finish to shut out the other elite freshman Jon Rakoski, who sits in 21st place at +190. Rakoski, like Hess, needs to win the title and get help from Janawicz.

But before any of those players can worry about the trophy presentation, they’ll have to bowl eight more games and remain inside the first cut.

The second round of qualifying will begin at 10 a.m. Eastern on Monday. The top 32 players following that round will advance to Tuesday’s competition.

An additional eight-game block on Tuesday morning will determine the 16 advancers to round-robin match play.

The tournament and season will close out at 6 p.m. ET on Wednesday evening with the five-player stepladder finals.

All rounds of the PBA50 Johnny Petraglia BVL Tournament of Champions will be livestreamed on BowlTV.

Qualifying Round 1 Leaders

  1. Jason Couch, 1,959 (+359)
  2. Mitch Beasley, 1,902 (+302)
  3. Scott Greiner, 1,897 (+297)
  4. Danny Wiseman, 1,897 (+297)
  5. Tom Adcock 1,893 (+293)
  6. Parker Bohn III, 1,885 (+285)
  7. Andres Gomez, 1,883 (+283)
  8. John Janawicz, 1,871 (+271)
  9. Lennie Boresch Jr., 1,870 (+270)
  10. Chris Barnes, 1,867 (+267)

Full standings — PBA50 TOC

Remaining Schedule

Orange Bowl Lanes | Lakeland, Fla.
All times listed in Eastern.

Monday, Aug. 28
10 a.m. — Qualifying Round 2 (eight games)
Top 32 players advance

Tuesday, Aug. 29
8:30 a.m. — Advancers Round (eight games)
Top 16 players advance
2 p.m. — Match Play Round 1 (eight games)

Wednesday, Aug. 30
12 p.m. — Match Play Round 2 (eight games)
Top five players advance
6 p.m. — Stepladder finals

More information is available here.