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, 3-0. PROFESSIONAL BOWLERS TOUR REGIONAL PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP Thunderbowl Lanes, Allen Park, Mich., Monday CHAMPIONSHIP 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.