Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Riga Kalfas Tops the Field at Regional Players Championships

Riga Kalfas of Florence, KY, revived his game just in time to win the
Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Regional Players Championship at
Thunderbowl Lanes Monday.

Kalfas, a 42-year-old truck driver by day and bowling pro shop operator by 
night, defeated Chris Collins of Savannah, GA, 236-216, to complete a 
near-perfect day and claim the $7,500 first prize along with a guaranteed berth 
in the 2011 PBA Tournament of Champions, a record $1 million event with a 
$250,000 first prize.

Coming into the Detroit area event, however, Kalfas was on the brink of giving 
up the game.

“Three weeks ago, I was bowling so bad, I didn’t plan on bowling anything,” the 
former PBA Touring Player said. “I felt like the game had passed me by. To win 
this title is unbelievable. I can’t describe how it feels. I’m numb.”

After qualifying fifth in the field of 172 non-exempt PBA members to advance to 
Monday’s single-elimination match play finals, Kalfas lost first game of day, 
254-252, to Bo Goergen of Midland, MI, but he didn’t lose again, winning nine 
consecutive games for the victory. His closest call was a 210-209 squeeker 
against Tommy Gollick of Oberlin, PA, in the semifinal round.

“I was throwing the ball good until toward the end,” he said, “but by the grace 
of God, I held on. I don’t know how.”

The Regional Players Championship is one of two major championships for PBA 
regional competitors, and a win means a paid entry into the Tournament of 
Champions. “I’ll probably bowl that one,” Kalfas said with a relieved laugh. 
“Hopefully this win will loosen up my arm swing a bit.”

The top three qualifiers – No. 1 Jonathan Van Hees of Charlestown, RI; No. 2 
Matt White of Warren, PA, and No. 3 Don Hogue of Akron, OH, were eliminated 
in the opening best-of-five-game match play round. No. 24 seed Chris Hibbitts II 
of Fort Worth, TX, eliminated Van Hees, 3-1; No. 23 Richard Kidd of El Paso, 
IL, ousted White, 3-2, and No. 22 Rick Zakrajsek, Lorain, OH, swept Hogue, 

Thunderbowl Lanes, Allen Park, Mich., Monday

Riga Kalfas, Florence, Ky., ($7,500) def. Chris Collins, Savannah, Ga., 
($4,000), 236-216.

SEMIFINAL ROUND (losers eliminated and earned $2,200)
Kalfas def. Tommy Gollick, Oberlin, Pa., 210-209.
Collins def. Rick Zakrajsek, Lorain, Ohio, 233-153.

ROUND OF 8 (best of 3 games, losers eliminated and earned $1,450)
Gollick def. Chris Hibbitts II, Fort Worth, Texas, 2-1.
Kalfas def. Jeff Hicks, Allen Park, Mich., 2-0.
Zakrajsek def. Jesse Buss, Wichita, Kan., 2-1.
Collins def. Troy Stus, South Lyon, Mich., 2-1.

ROUND OF 16 (best of 3 games, losers eliminated and earned $950)
Hibbitts def. Cassidy Schaub, Ashland, Ohio, 2-1.
Gollick def. Jason Poli, West Des Moines, Iowa, 2-1.
Kalfas def. Brian Valenta, Lockport, Ill., 2-0.
Hicks def. Jason Sterner, McDonough, Ga., 2-1.
Buss def. Craig Hanson, Orlando, Fla., 2-1.
Zakrajsek def. Michael Gaither, Grain Valley, Mo., 2-1.
Collins def. Brian Himmler, Cincinnati, 2-0.
Stus def. Richard Kidd, El Paso, Ill., 2-0.

ROUND OF 32 (best of 5 games, losers eliminated and earned $750)
Hibbitts def. Jonathan Van Hees, Charlestown, R.I., 3-1.
Schaub def. JR Raymond, Belleville, Ill., 3-1.
Gollick def. Andy Patterson, Tyler, Texas, 3-1.
Poli def. Jason Wojnar, Chicago, 3-1.
Kalfas def. Bo Goergen, Midland, Mich., 3-1.
Valenta def. Matt Smallin, Minot, N.D., 3-2.
Sterner def. Nathan Bohr, Wichita, Kan., 3-2.
Hicks def. Greg Strahora, West Hazelton, Pa., 3-1.
Buss def. Eddie VanDaniker Jr., Essex, Md., 3-1.
Hanson def. Patrick Dombrowski, Parma, Ohio, 3-0.
Zakrajsek def. Donald Hogue, Akron, Ohio, 3-0.
Gaither def. Tom Sorce, Blasdell, N.Y., 3-2.
Himmler def. Tim Behrendt, St. Louis, 3-1.
Collins def. Shannon Pluhowsky, Kettering, Ohio, 3-2.
Stus def. John Szczerbinski, North Tonawanda, N.Y., 3-1.
Kidd def. Matt White, Warren, Pa., 3-2.

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