Cha coasts to Regional Tour Championship Win

Yu-Ram Cha (File photo courtesy of Anne Craig)

It is not easy to qualify to play on the WPBA tour. Players have to play on regional tours to earn points that get them invited to play in the Regional Tour Championship and that event takes place once a year. Finish in the top eight at that event and you are in. Play poorly at that event, and it is back to the regional tours for another year. That is the process for any player who is not in the top 40 players at the end of the tour year. There are no exceptions; not even for a former Amway Cup winner who happened to have Visa problems and lost her place on the points list.

That was the case for Korea's Yu Ram Cha this year. So even though she is ranked in the top 20 in the world, Cha still had to compete alongside the best the regional tours have to offer this week at Bogies Billiards in Houston, Tx. The fans in attendance quickly got to see the difference between the #14 ranked player in the world and the best that the regional tours have to offer. Fortunately for the rest of the players in attendance, a top eight finish earns a WPBA tour card.

Cha got things started in Houston with back to back lopsided wins over Becky Jones and Jana Montour. After two matches, Cha had an 18-1 record in games. Her next opponent, Lisa Marr, was able to win three racks against Cha; and then young powerhouse Briana Miller was able to win four games before succumbing to Cha. Four games would be the most anyone would win against Cha in this event.

After a 9-1 win over Sharon O'Hanlon, Cha took the hot seat with a 9-4 win over Canada's Joanne Ashton.

Meanwhile on the one loss side, players were fighting it out for the remaining seven tour cards.

Arizona's Susan Williams bounced back from a heartbreaking hill-hill loss to Janet Atwell and defeated Hiroko Makiyami to make her way into the final eight. Makiyami fell one match short of the tour card. Also falling one match short were Helen Laiche, Suzanne Smith and Shelby Locati.

With the tournament down to the final eight, the ladies were able to relax in knowing that they had won their tour cards and start concentrating on the $13,000 in prize money that would also be awarded at this event.

Williams earned a 7-5 win over Kim Benson and Briana Miller eliminated Canadian Veronique Menard 7-1 to leave Benson and Menard in 7th place.

The next round saw Williams defeat O'Hanlon and Miller send Atwell packing with identical 7-3 scores.

Williams then ended Miller's campaign with a 7-4 scoreline and prepared to face off against Ashton in the semi-finals. This match was another hill-hill match, Ashton getting to the hill first at 6-5, but Williams winning the next two games for the 7-6 win. That win earned Williams the daunting task of beat Cha twice in the finals.

The first set of the finals started out close at 1-1, but that wouldn't last long as Cha won the next three games. While Williams fought hard, the difference in the two players games was apparent from the start. Cha raced to the hill at 8-2, leaving Williams in a do-or-die position. Williams won the next two games to get back to 8-4, but that was as close as she would get as Cha won the case game and the match 9-4.

Cha earned $3,250 in prize money to go along with the WPBA tour card, while Williams settled for $1930 along with her tour card.