Donny Mills fights loss-side challenge from Linares to win Predator Sunshine State Pro Am stop

Raymond Linares, Donny Mills and Derek Laprairie

They are two of the more recognizeable names in the Florida pool community. Donny Mills and Raymond Linares have been ‘butting heads,’ figuratively speaking, since they both made their first appearances in our database; Mills, in 2003 and Linares, in 2009. They are both veterans of the Seminole Pro Tour, the KF Cues Tour, the Viking Tour, Tommy Kennedy’s Southeast Open 9-Ball Tour, the US Open 9-Ball Championships and lately, the Predator Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, where this past weekend (May 1-2), they met in the finals of a $1,500-added event ($500 from a Predator raffle) that drew 52 entrants to Stroker’s Billiards in Palm Harbor, FL. They missed meeting in the hot seat battle by one match, with Linares having to come from the loss side to challenge Mills in the final. Mills won it to claim his first (recorded) event title since winning Capone’s Labor Day Classic last September.

Mills, who never gave up more than three racks in any match until the final, got by Michael Xiahros, Jr. (3), Han Berber (another Florida veteran; 1), Bobby Garza (3), and Chuck White (3) to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal matchup versus New Jersey’s Desi Derado. Derek Laprairie, in the meantime, who, after an opening round bye, only gave up more than three racks once on his way to the hot seat match, got by Robert Batson (5), Trenton White (3) and Les Duffy (3) to draw Linares in his winners’ side semifinal.

Mills gave up only one rack versus Derado to get into the hot seat match. Laprairie gave up three to Linares to join him. Mills got into the hot seat by a very-popular-at-this-event 7-3 score over Laprairie.

Linares went to work on the loss side against Han Berber, who’d followed his second-round loss with six straight loss-side wins, including a double hill victory over Marcus Murillo and just before meeting up with Linares, a shutout over Chuck White. Derado drew Jerry Arvelaez, who’d followed his winners’ side quarterfinal defeat at the hands of Linares with victories over Lee Heuwagen 7-4 and Les Duffy 7-1.

Derado chalked up another one of those 7-3 wins, over Arvelaez, to earn himself a rematch against Linares, who’d demonstrated to Berber what a shutout felt like. Linares defeated Derado a second time 7-2 and then, got his shot against Mills with a 7-3 win over Laprairie. 

There’d been a baker’s dozen worth of double hill matches at this event and the extended-race-to-9 finals was the last of them. Mills closed out his undefeated run 9-8 to claim the event title.

Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked Jose Del Rio and his Stroker’s staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator, Kamui, Stitch It To Me Embroidery, Diamond Products, AZBilliards, Central Florida USA Pool League and Safety Harbor Resort & Spa. The next stop on the Predator Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, scheduled for the weekend of June 26-27, will be hosted by Brewlands Carrollwood in Tampa, FL.