2018 FloBowling PBA Fall Swing

Five Players Who Could Win Their First Title At Fall Swing

Five Players Who Could Win Their First Title At Fall Swing

There are plenty of talented players in the field at the FloBowling PBA Fall Swing who have yet to win a title. Here's a look at five who may break through.

Oct 11, 2018 by Jef Goodger
Five Players Who Could Win Their First Title At Fall Swing

One of the oldest questions within bowling fandom: is it more exciting to see new players compete for titles or would we rather watch established stars pile up more titles and build their legacies?

The answer is both, with a tendency toward whichever one isn’t happening at the time. Since we’ve had a lot of familiar champions recently, this is for the I’m-sick-of-seeing-the-same-guys crowd.

Here are five players who have yet to win a PBA Tour title who may pull off the feat next week at the FloBowling PBA Fall Swing, which will be broadcast LIVE on FloBowling.

Kamron Doyle

Hyped forever and the youngest to accomplish just about anything in bowling, Kamron Doyle is getting closer all the time to his first PBA Tour title. Winning a title at the Fall Swing might clinch PBA Rookie of the Year for him, as he currently owns a slight edge in that race over his fellow rookies… probably. That award, by the way, isn’t required to be bestowed in any given year, so a good performance at the Fall Swing would force the PBA not only to hand it out but to most likely hand it to Doyle. Incidentally, he really wants that award.

Still only 20 years old, Doyle finished third in the 2018 PBA Xtra Frame Gene Carter’s Pro Shop Classic in Middletown, Delaware, and also made the top 20 in two other Xtra Frame Tour events (Parkside Lanes Open and Kenn-Feld Classic). Back-to-back top-five finishes in European Bowling Tour events earlier this year gave him valuable experience in championship rounds, but he remains short of victory. Most pro bowlers get pummeled in exactly this fashion for a while before they finally collect their first title. Has Doyle been pummeled enough yet?

A.J. Johnson

Speaking of going through the pummeling process, A.J. Johnson has been at it longer than Doyle, and it may be time for the 26-year-old Johnson to win his first PBA Tour championship. He’s made at least one championship-round appearance every year since his 2015 rookie season, including a second-place finish earlier this year in the Xtra Frame Wilmington Open, but hasn’t yet been able to win that final match.

Johnson was thrilled to be chosen by Mark Baker as a member of the Silver Lake Atom Splitters and helped his team win the Elias Cup. The PBA League championship was Johnson’s first taste of top-tier triumph, but he will do all he can to get a trophy of his own at the Fall Swing.

Chris Via

Plenty of international medals prove three-time Team USA member Chris Via can win, but he hasn’t yet done so on the PBA Tour. His best finishes have come on the Xtra Frame Tour, taking third in the Xtra Frame Parkside Lanes Open this season and finishing second in the Kenn-Feld Group Classic in 2017. One thing those tournaments have in common: difficult lane conditions.

With the historically tough Bear pattern being one of the two in play next week, Via may be able to further his he’s-especially-good-when-they’re-tough reputation and earn his first professional title.

Not insignificant: his mom gave homemade cookies to the FloBowling livestream team in Coldwater, a crucial act of kindness that fueled the crew through 19 hours of qualifying. Mrs. Via deserves to have a son with a PBA Tour title.

Trey Ford III

Trey Ford III sightings are getting more frequent, and each time he enters an event, the story is two-fold: how young he is and how good he is. At the Fall Swing, the 18-year-old Ford will attempt to become the youngest PBA Tour champion in history.

Norm Duke holds the record at 18 years, 345 days, meaning Ford has until Aug. 4 of next year to win a title and break that record. Will he get it out of the way next week? He’s only bowled four PBA Tour events so far this year and cashed in one, so he’s not the most likely choice to win, but he has the ability to put together good blocks, and the all-qualifying format for the first two events could favor a player like Ford.

Kris Prather

Kris Prather looked like he was on the verge of a title early in 2018, finishing in the top 10 in four consecutive events in February. Beginning with a 10th-place finish in the Tournament of Champions, followed by coming in eighth in the PBA 60th Anniversary Classic. Prather then made two consecutive national telecasts, finishing fourth in both the Barbasol PBA Players Championship and, with partner Brandon Novak, the Roth/Holman Doubles Championship.

Since February, Prather has only bowled three national PBA Tour events, though, with a best finish of 17th at the Xtra Frame Parkside Lanes Open. If he can recapture the run he was on to begin the season, perhaps he can add a title to the end of it.

Anybody else?

How about Michael and Darren Tang? They have a strange ability to finish near each other in just about everything they bowl, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see one or both of them qualify for at least one of the three stepladders. Anthony Lavery-Spahr makes match play every time we see him. J.R. Raymond is another player who might excel on the challenging conditions. John Furey and Charlie Brown have recent second-place finishes to their names, and Sam Cooley and Keven Williams could also find their way into a stepladder. Maybe this is the week Zeke Bayt or Devin Bidwell find a career-best finish. Everyone in the field is rooting for Martin Larsen (as long as he’s not against them), who seems like he has a title even if he doesn’t.

Which of these notable non-champions has the best chance to win his first title? A lot of that will depend on the established superstars, who are also going to be there.

Whoever claims the three titles available at the Fall Swing will have to defeat a massive international field of current and future PBA Hall of Fame players whose only focus is to add championships to their own resumes.