Ringgold goes undefeated to win his first Open event; the Action Pool Tour’s season finale

For the Action Pool Tour, the 2018 season ended where it began, at Q Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA. For JT Ringgold, his aspirations as a competitive pool player had a new beginning, when the APT’s 2018 season finale came to an end, with him as the winner of the tour’s $3,750-added, Invitational season finale that drew 46 entrants on the weekend of December 15-16. It was Ringgold’s first victory in an Open event, and by the time he reached the finals, he was already further along in an Open field of competitors than he’d ever been. He was truly thrilled enough to be there to take the nerves out of actually getting on the table against Eric Moore and winning in those finals.
“It was strange for me,” he said of the ‘finals’ experience, “because I wasn’t nervous at all.”
“I didn’t want to give up and just be satisfied, either,” he added. “I did want to compete, and when I started coming back against him, I got confident, thinking – I can take control of this.”
And he did. And has, over the course of 2018; Ringgold’s strongest recorded earnings year to date, which has included three wins on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour. He was runner-up once, third three times (to include the tour’s annual Bar Box Tour Championships), fourth twice and 5th three times in 12 appearances on that tour this year. In his only money-earned appearance on the APT this year, he finished 7th.
That said, Ringgold ran a sort of gauntlet of the APT’s top competitors, which began with a victory over Jake Lawson (#4 on the tour’s Points List), and then went through Bill Duggan (#35) and Chris Bruner (#31), to draw a winners’ side semifinal match against Mike Davis, Jr. (#22). Meanwhile, Eric Moore (#7) squared off against RJ Carmona (#28, and the APT competitor who knocked Ringgold out, back in May).
Moore and Carmona locked up in a double hill fight that eventually, 9-8, sent Moore to the hot seat match. Ringgold joined him after a 9-6 win over Davis. Moore and Ringgold got into a double hill fight, as well, and contrary to how he’d feel in the later finals, Ringgold was a bundle of nerves in the battle for the hot seat.
“I never shook so hard in my life,” he recalled. “My hands and legs were just shaking during that hot seat match.”
He held on to win it though, using a bank to seal the deal.
As Carmona and Davis showed up for the first time on the loss side, they ran into Scott Haas (#20) and Shaun Wilkie (#3). Haas was in the midst of a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that had, moving into the money rounds, included victories over Tuan Chau and Steve Fleming (#1), both 7-5 and a double hill win over Bruner that set him up to face Carmona. Davis drew Wilkie in something of an APT marquee matchup.
Carmona stopped Haas’ loss side run and got into the quarterfinals with a 7-5 win. He was joined by Wilkie, who’d eliminated Davis 7-2. Wilkie, who’d been sent to the loss side by Carmona and was in the midst of his own seven-match, loss-side run, advanced another step when he successfully won his re-match against Carmona 7-5 in those quarterfinals.
Moore stopped Wilkie’s seven-match, loss-side run with a 7-5 victory in the semifinals. And then, in the finals against Ringgold, in a race to 11, Moore took an early 4-0 lead. It was, according to Ringgold, just the way he liked it.
“Whenever (I get ahead and) someone comes back at me,” he said, “is when I get worried.”
Ringgold chalked up the next three racks to draw within one. Moore, though, came right back to win three of his own to put him up 7-3. It was Ringgold’s turn (and preference, apparently) to come back. He would win eight of the next 10 games, and won it 11-7, with another bank shot at the end. The ‘nervous’ shoe was apparently on the other foot.
“Moore made a few more mistakes than I did, at the end,” said Ringgold, “including a couple of that (normally) he wouldn’t have made.”
Tour directors Tiger Baker and Kris Wylie thanked the ownership and staff at Q Master Billiards for their season-finale (and season-opening) hospitality, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, Viking Cues, Tiger, Simonis Cloth, Aramith Balls, Diamond Billiard Products, Ozone Billiards, Kamui Tips and George Hammerbacher (Advanced Pool Instructor).