Kris Prather Wins Inaugural PBA Playoffs Championship, $100,000 First Prize
by Bill Vint | Sunday, June 02, 12:07 PM
PORTLAND, Maine – Kris Prather of Plainfield, Illinois, made critical shot after critical shot in defeating Bill O’Neill of Langhorne, Pennsylvania, 226-215 and 216-185, to win the inaugural Professional Bowlers Association Playoffs Championship and its $100,000 first prize Sunday at Bayside Bowl.
The championship match aired live on FOX, concluding a 13-tournament qualifying series leading into a 24-player match play elimination competition. A calm and confident Prather, who entered the Playoffs as the No. 9 seed, was in complete control in claiming the championship.
“It was a lot easier thinking that no matter what happened, I was going to help my family financially,” Prather said after the biggest win of his career. “I told myself last night I couldn’t be disappointed no matter what. But after watching Bill’s ball motion not being that great, and me throwing a few good shots that loosened my arm swing really helped.
“When I came out on tour, I didn’t treat it as a job and it showed,” he added. “I hope people can see how much I’ve matured over the past five years, and it’s really having an impact on the success I’m having.”
Prather, a 27-year-old five-year PBA Tour veteran, used a string of four strikes to build a lead over the struggling O’Neill in the first game but had to convert a 3-4-6-7-10 split in the 10th frame to win the first in the “race to two points” match.
“I threw the ball about as bad as I could in that situation, and it showed,” Prather said. “On the spare I told myself I make that split all the time, so I just wanted to hit the pin in front and if I made it, it was meant to be.”
O’Neill, who didn’t throw back-to-back strikes until the sixth and seventh frames, had a chance to win by a pin with three strikes in his 10th frame but left the 2-8 on his second shot.
“I was unsure of what I was doing,” O’Neill admitted. “In hindsight I should have played the lanes a lot straighter. It was more a tactical error on my part. That second shot in the 10th frame I thought was pretty good, but that’s what happens when you’re not playing the lanes properly.”
Prather, who won his only PBA Tour title earlier in the season in the PBA Scorpion Championship during the PBA World Series of Bowling X, retained control in game two with a string of three strikes after O’Neill failed to convert the 4-9 split in the first frame and again struggled to put together consecutive strikes. When O’Neill finally put together a double, he left the 3-6-9-10 in the eighth frame and failed to convert, basically sealing the victory for Prather.
“This was the first time, in the whole playoffs, I had the lead early. In every other match, except one, I had to come from behind,” Prather said, noting he was surprised by how well the Bayside Bowl fans embraced him considering he’d never bowled in Maine before this year. “These fans are incredible. I never thought I’d be accepted into a place I’m not from, like I have been in Portland. You hear about how enthusiastic these fans are, but you don’t really know until you experience this place.”
The 2019 Go Bowling! PBA Tour will resume competition June 28-30 when the Lubbock Sports Shootout presented by Ebonite at South Plains Lanes in Lubbock, Texas, kicks off the PBA Summer Tour and USBC Cup points competition. The PBA Summer Tour will be livestreamed in its entirety by the PBA’s online streaming partner, FloBowling.
PBA PLAYOFFS CHAMPIONSHIP
(A Go Bowling! PBA Tour event)
Bayside Bowl, Portland, Maine, Sunday
Championship (Race to 2 Points format)
Kris Prather, Plainfield, Ill. ($100,000) def. Bill O’Neill, Langhorne, Pa. ($40,000), 226-215, 216-185.