LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Chris Barnes of Double Oak, Texas, captured his 16th career title in the Professional Bowlers Association Viper Championship presented by PBA Bowling Challenge, defeating top qualifier Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga, N.Y., 230-212, when Ciminelli left a 7-10 split in the 10th frame of the title match.
The second of seven telecasts from PBA World Series of Bowling V at the South Point Hotel and Casino complex aired Sunday on ESPN, and again featured the use of a unique “blue oil” on the lanes to help television viewers and on-site fans see the otherwise invisible lane conditioning pattern.
“It’s way more fun winning than losing, and I’ve tried both,” Barnes said of his second PBA Tour victory of the 2012-13 season.
England’s Stuart Williams started the four-man Viper stepladder finals with a 203-194 victory over Australia’s PBA Player of the Year contender, Jason Belmonte, but Barnes then eliminated Williams, 200-171, to advance to the title match.
Ciminelli jumped into a 15-pin lead over Barnes after five frames, striking on four of his first five shots, and he maintained his lead heading into the 10th frame when disaster struck. He left the 7-10 split on a light pocket hit, and nearly converted the spare when he bounced the 7 pin out of the pit in front of the 10 pin. Barnes, working on strikes in the eighth and ninth frames, then locked up the title with two more strikes in his 10th frame.
“It was an awful shot,” Ciminelli said of his fatal 10th-frame error. “I guess I could have gotten lucky and got nine or something, but you can’t rely on that. You have to throw it good when you’re in that position. I made all of my good frames irrelevant with one bad shot.”
Barnes knew he got a break, but predicted Ciminelli would return to the winner’s circle soon.
“(Ryan) keeps getting better and better,” Barnes said of the 27-year-old Ciminelli, who won his only PBA Tour title in Dublin, Calif., in January 2011. “He’s better in qualifying and better in match play, and he’s getting better at finishing. He almost made the 7-10, which would have changed things considerably.
“Ryan’s going to be one of the guys to beat and he’s trying to step in as the premier left-hander on tour. I’m not sure (33-time PBA Tour winner and Hall of Famer) Parker (Bohn III) is ready to step aside right yet, but Ryan is certainly laying his claim to be that guy.”
Barnes also said the two previous right-handed players in the finals (Williams and Belmonte) had moved the oil around on the lanes, which forced him to make continuously move around until he found a consistent shot to the pocket.
“I kept moving around and trying to make the ball hook, and eventually I got back to where I started and made some good shots,” Barnes said. “It was kind of what you’d see (Hall of Famers) Walter Ray (Williams Jr.) or Norm (Duke) do – pick a spot and keep hitting that spot, and make the other guy show up.”
The Viper Championship used the same blue oil used in the Cheetah Championship earlier in the World Series. The Viper pattern was applied to 39 feet compared an application to 35 feet for the Cheetah. The unique colored oil also will be used in the Chameleon Championship which airs on Dec. 15 at 1 p.m. ET and the Scorpion Championship telecast on Dec. 22 at 3:30 p.m. ET.
“I don’t even see the oil when I’m bowling; I didn’t even notice it was there,” Ciminelli said, but Barnes noted with a grin, “The funniest thing was, when I threw my spare ball, it disappeared (his spare ball is light blue, almost the same shade as the oil).
“On one of these (blue oil) shows, if all of the guys play in the same area of the lane, I think we’ll see much better how the condition will get lighter,” Barnes added, “but this show was like the U.S. Open. One guy was playing first arrow, another was playing fourth arrow, one playing the 12 board, so it was hard to see (the movement of oil).
“I’m not sure what we’ll learn from it, but I don’t have a problem with it at all,” he added. “It doesn’t really create any kind of advantage for what we do because we’re still going to rely on what we know. We don’t know enough about (the blue oil) to trust our eyes over our feel for the lanes.”
The Viper telecast also included a segment called “Time to Strike,” the second of four special PBA League Challenge segments in which the eight PBA League franchise players are demonstrating their skills in unique competitions. In the second round, players tried to throw as many strikes as possible within a span of 90 seconds.
“Speed bowling is not for me,” said 51-year-old Hall of Famer Pete Weber, franchise player for the New York City WTT KingPins, who threw two strikes. “Go back 30 years, maybe…”
“I thought I was going to rule that one,” the Dallas Strikers’ Duke noted, “but I ended up dead last with no strikes. I could hear Chris Berman in the background saying, Come on, man!”
“I did really well in the speed challenge,” said Philadelphia Hitmen representative Bill O’Neill, who won the competition in a two-shot roll-off against L.A. X franchise player Jason Belmonte after each had thrown five strikes in the 90-second round. “Apparently that’s how I need to bowl from now on. When I pick my ball up and think for a second, things go haywire, so I’ve got to just get up and run to the line.”
Next Sunday’s Chameleon Championship finals include top qualifier Dom Barrett, England; No. 2 qualifier Brian Kretzer, Dayton, Ohio; No. 3 Ciminelli and No. 4 Tom Smallwood of Saginaw, Mich. The telecast also will include a PBA League “Obstacle Bowling” Challenge, calling for players to knock down as many pins as possible with three shots in or around rubber bowling pins placed on the lane.
A post-finals look at the Viper Championship and a preview of the Chameleon Championship, along with other features, will be available Monday on “The Bowling Center” on YouTube.com. Xtra Frame subscribers who may have missed Sunday’s telecasts will be able to watch the finals “on demand” in the Xtra Frame archives one week after the original show airs.
2013 VIPER CHAMPIONSHIP presented by PBA Bowling Challenge
South Point Exhibition Hall, Las Vegas, Nov. 2 (ESPN telecast Dec. 8)
1, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, $20,000.
2, Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., $10,000.
3, Stuart Williams, England, $7,000.
4, Jason Belmonte, Australia, $5,000.
Match One – Williams def. Belmonte, 203-194.
Semifinal Match – Barnes def. Williams, 200-171.
Championship – Barnes def. Ciminelli, 230-212.