LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, exorcised his television demons Sunday, upsetting top qualifier Bill O’Neill of Southampton, Pa., 267-237, to win the Professional Bowlers Association World Championship at South Point Bowling Center and become the sixth player in PBA history to complete the sport’s Triple Crown.
Along with his 13th career title, the 40-year-old Barnes won a $50,000 first prize. He previously had won the 2005 U.S. Open and the 2006 PBA Tournament of Champions, the other two legs in the PBA Triple Crown. The only other Triple Crown winners are Billy Hardwick, Johnny Petraglia, Pete Weber, Mike Aulby and Norm Duke – all PBA Hall of Famers.
Barnes, the No. 4 qualifier, came into the PBA World Championship with a 7-14 record on television in major championships, but he won four consecutive matches for the title to improve his record to 11-14. He defeated Michael Haugen Jr. of Carefree, Ariz., in Saturday night’s elimination round, 243-172, to reach Sunday’s finals where he eliminated Finland’s Osku Palermaa, 246-176, and Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., 237-161, for the chance to meet O’Neill for the title.
In the title match, Barnes started with six strikes to build a 31-pin lead after seven frames, but O’Neill refused to back down, finishing with a string of four strikes to force Barnes to mark in the 10th frame. Barnes’ strike on his first shot in the clinched the title.
“I feel bad for Bill,” Barnes said. “He was the best bowler in the PBA World Series to get here, but I’ve been in his shoes a few times and I’m not going to give the trophy back.
“There are a lot of guys who have won the PBA World Championship, but it’s a short and distinguished list of guys who have won the Triple Crown,” he added. “Right after I won, Billy Hardwick called my wife and told her to welcome me to the club.”
“I’m not unhappy with my performance,” O’Neill said. “I threw all but one shot on line. When I needed shots to make Chris show up in 10th, they were all good. That’s something I’ve struggled with out here. I think it’s a good sign of things to come.”
The Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour immediately moved to Red Rock Lanes in northwest Las Vegas later Sunday for the opening qualifying round for the Champions Field in the $1 million PBA Tournament of Champions. Following a second qualifying round Monday morning, half of the Champions Field will join the elite field for the duration of the Tournament of Champions.
The richest tournament in PBA history concludes Saturday when a record $250,000 first prize will be decided live on ABC at 2:30 p.m. Eastern. Kelly Kulick of Union, N.J., is defending champion.
PBA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
South Point Bowling Center, Las Vegas, Nev., Sunday
Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, def. Osku Palermaa, Finland ($12,000), 246-176.
Barnes def. Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill. ($14,000), 237-161.
Barnes ($50,000) def. Bill O’Neill, Southampton, Pa. ($25,000), 267-237.