First it was Barry Gurney.
Now it’s Michael Haugen Jr. and David Haynes.
The Laughlin Cup is spilling over with bowling talent.
Celebrated bowlers Haugen and Haynes are the latest to commit to the Feb. 2 bowling event at Laughlin’s Riverside Lanes that is the brainchild of Bowling Evolved personalities Dustin Markowitz and Eric Forkel.
At least 50 bowlers are expected to take part in the tournament with the winner guaranteed a $500 payday and free entry into the high-priced Proprietors Cup, which will be held July 10-14 in Beavercreek, Ohio.
The 71-year-old Gurney, a longtime standout on the senior circuit and a West Hills resident, was the first well-known commitment to the tournament. And now he’s been joined by Haugen and Haynes.
Haugen, a Carefree Ariz., resident, claimed the 2008 Tournament of Champions. In so doing, Haugen made a name for himself by becoming the second bowler in history to win his first PBA title (Lake County Indiana Classic) and the Tournament of Champions major in the same season. He has smoked 25 perfect games in PBA events, according to Wikipedia.
Haynes, called by Markowitz the “King of Las Vegas,” is a Las Vegas native with a long resume. He’s won five PBA regional titles and is a 10-year member of Team USA. His team won the gold medal at the 2006 men’s world championships in South Korea.
Markowitz said Bowling Evolved will be filming the Laughlin Cup and that interest in the tournament has been impressive.
“It’s going to be big,” Markowitz said of the tournament. “We have entrants from Tucson, Vegas and L.A. It will be a pretty well-rounded tournament.”
This will be the first year the Laughlin Cup will be contested and it will take place under a scratch format. Five bowlers will move into the finals. The top qualifier will bowl only once – for the championship.
“We’re trying to improve [bowling tournaments] and expand in a shrinking industry,” said Markowitz, who expects the tournament to be an annual affair. “We’re not afraid to push the envelope for change.”
Forkel, a former San Fernando Valley resident who teams with Markowitz on podcasts for Bowling Evolved, is a longtime pro bowler with earnings of more than $1.2 million. Bowling Evolved was launched in July and discusses various hot topics in bowling. It can be accessed through bowlingevolved.com, Facebook or YouTube.