Local News

Four pro bowlers coming to Sebring Will bowl, teach, meet public

— Carolyn Dorin-Ballard, Randy Pedersen, Jason Belmonte and Mike Fagan.

Bowlers know those names. They are four of the best in the world, and they’ll be in Sebring on Saturday, Sunday and Monday for a series of fundraisers for cancer.

Dorin-Ballard, twice the Professional Woman Bowler of the Year, has won 22 national titles. Before the PWBA disbanded, she had moved up to sixth on the earnings list with more than $900,000. She will teach a free bowling fundamentals clinic for kids from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

“I grew up with her in New Jersey,” said Heartland Bowl proprietor Jack Kordusky, who will also emcee the three-day event.

Although her husband won’t be in Sebring, she’s married to Del Ballard Jr., who owns about 13 PBA titles himself. Both are in the Hall of Fame, and Del has won over $1 million over his career.

Pedersen is a PBA Hall of Famer and color analyst for ESPN’s coverage of the PBA Tour. A Southern California resident, he relocated to Clermont. With $1.1 million in earnings, Pedersen is currently number 33 on the PBA’s list of top money winners.

At noon on Sunday, Pedersen will bowl an exhibition match with one of Heartland Bowl’s best, Vernon Peterson, in a breast cancer fundraiser called “Showdown for the Tatas.” This is the eighth year of the Beverly J. Wright Memorial Tournament, which so far has raised more than $70,000.

“For every $25 you bet, you’ll receive a pro shop gift certificate worth $25,” Kordusky said. The cash bets on Pederson or Petersen are donated to the cancer fundraiser.

Also on Sunday, a free mystery doubles tournament is scheduled with free food, jackpots, raffles and giveaways. Reservations are required from 1 to 3 p.m.

“You bowl a game, then draw a name,” Kordusky said. The pair will be assigned a handicap based on their scores, and $750 in prizes will be given away. First place wins $200, based on 300 entries. There is no entry fee.

From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Fagan and Belmonte will be available for a meet and greet, Kordusky said.

Fagan, nicknamed the King of Swing, has a powerful pendulum backswing. He was the 1997 Teen Masters Champion, a three-time collegiate All American, and World Games gold medalist in 2013 for mixed doubles. He has won four PBA championships and has been the European Tour champ five times.

“He’s one of the best bowlers in the world right now,” Kordusky said. “He’s from Long Island. When I knew him, he was like a god. Nobody could beat him.” The PBA lists his earnings at $726,000.

Belmonte is currently the PBA’s top-ranked bowler, Kordusky said. With a unique two-handed style, Belmonte is the 2009 PBA Rookie of the Year. The Australian has won a European Bowling Tour title, Brunswick Euro Challenge, World Tenpin Masters championship, Korea Cup, Bowling Foundation Long Island Classic, and the 2012–13 USBC Masters. He was named the 2012-13 Player of the Year, and has earned more than $600,000.

A bounce house will be in the parking lot, and laser tag will be set up behind Heartland Bowl, Kordusky said. Hot dogs will be free on Saturday, and food will be free all day Sunday, which is Customer Appreciation Day.

All the events are free. Heartland Bowl is at 6800 US 27 N. More information: 382-2643.