Fort Myers, Florida — “It’s a dream come true,” Tom Hess said after winning the 2023 PBA50 Fort Myers Lightning Strikes Classic on Wednesday.

Ever since Hess joined the PBA50 Tour, he has been focused on earning his spot in the exclusive PBA Hall of Fame. After his fifth PBA50 title and two being major wins, he is now eligible to be voted in.

After falling to Chris Barnes in the Round of 8, Hess was the fifth seed. All he did was dominate his opponents — averaging 239 — as he climbed the stepladder.

“It’s definitely more gratifying to take the road that I took,” Hess said of his path to winning his fifth PBA50 title. “I think Chris is the best bowler out here, so to beat him and get Hall of Fame eligible is going to add a little bit to it for me.”

Hess never had the opportunity to bowl professionally full-time, between work and his family, so achieving his dream now is even more meaningful.

“That makes these last couple of years really special,” Hess said.  

On the challenging 40-foot Amleto Monacelli oil pattern, Hess knew his opponents were going to use urethane, so he relied on valuable information he received from PBA player Tom Daugherty at a previous tournament.

“I crossed with Tom in Shawnee and a lot of guys were throwing urethane,” Hess said. “He told me I needed to go to a clean, quicker ball, and that has always been in my mind to do that.”

That moved paid off. Hess figured out a tricky left lane as he defeated Andres Gomez in the opening match, 249-140. He kept the striking going in match two, defeating John Janawicz 254-182.

Then came a match against Brad Angelo, the defending champion of the PBA50 Fort Myers Lightning Strikes Classic. Hess kept striking to get the win 259-197.

It was then time for a rematch against Chris Barnes, who had outscored him 783-631 in the Round of 8, for the title match. These two players have seen a lot of each other, and Hess has a lot of respect for Barnes who is a USBC and PBA Hall of Famer.

In the closest match of the day, Hess struck on three of his first four shots followed by four straight spares. Barnes had two open frames in the first six frames, finishing with 167. Hess got the win with a 194.

Hess, who ranks second in points this year, has cashed in every tournament. It’s been a memorable season.

“Absolutely incredible,” Hess said. “I just want to keep winning.”

The final PBA50 event of the year is a major at the Johnny Petraglia BVL Tournament of Champions, which begins Aug. 27 in Lakeland, Florida.


Match 1: Hess def. Gomez 249-140
Match 2: Hess def. Janawicz 254-182
Match 3: Hess def. Angelo 259-197
Championship match: Hess def. Barnes 194-167


  1. Tom Hess $7,500
  2. Chris Barnes $4,000
  3. Brad AngeIo $3,000
  4. John Janawicz $2,500
  5. Andres Gomez $2,000

Final standings – PBA50 Lightning Strikes Lanes Classic

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