Chris Bruner competed in all but one of the 12 Action Pool Tour stops in 2019. He won four of them - June, July, October (VA State 8-Ball Championship) and the tour’s season finale this past weekend (December 7-8). He was runner-up in two others; to Mike Davis in May and Kristina Tkach in August. He tripled the number of appearances he made on the tour this year, which, factored into tournament results as the APT’s season concluded, gave Bruner the 2019 Tour Champion title. Last year’s champion, Steve Fleming competed in all but two of this year’s tour stops and finished as runner-up.
Bruner went undefeated through a field of 19 pre-qualified entrants, who signed on for the season finale – The Pineapple Morris Memorial Shootout on Saturday, December 7 at Q Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA. Named after Craig “Pineapple” Morris, a fixture as a teacher at Q Master Billiards and doorman at the annual US Open 9-Ball Championships for many years, the event was limited to the Top 16 men and three women in the tour’s point standings. Thanks to primary tour sponsors Predator Cues, Aramith and Simonis, every player who competed was paid.
Fleming was on-hand as well, with the opportunity to defend his tour championship title there for the taking. Fleming was one of six entrants who played a preliminary round for entrance into the event’s official 16-player, double elimination bracket. He and Larry Kressel locked up in a double hill fight that advanced Kressel and sent Fleming to the loss side, where he lasted three rounds.
Bruner’s path to the winners’ circle climbed a straight-up ladder that went through #12 Greg Sabins and #8 Bill Duggan, to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against #4 Reymart Lim. Scott Roberts (#6), working in a pressure cooker of his own making, won two straight double hill matches against David Hunt (#5) and Jimmy Byrd (#18) to draw his winners’ side semifinal opponent, none other than the aforementioned Larry Kressel (#11).
Roberts won his third straight double hill match, downing Kressel to earn a spot in the hot seat match. Bruner joined him with a double hill win over Lim. Roberts recorded his first double hill loss, as Bruner chalked up his second straight double hill win to claim the hot seat.
On the loss side, Kressel picked up #3 RJ Carmona, who’d lost to #7 Scott Haas in the event’s first full opening round and was working on a four-match, loss-side winning streak that was about to end. He’d recently eliminated Bill Duggan 9-6 and David Hunt 9-5. Lim picked up Haas, who’d been sent over by Kressel in a winners’ side quarterfinal and then defeated Greg Sabins 9-5 and Jimmy Bird, double hill.
The possible Carmona/Haas rematch didn’t happen, as Kressel moved into the quarterfinals 9-7 over Carmona. Haas downed Lim 9-3, but in those quarterfinals, fell to Kressel 9-2.
The Roberts/Kressel semifinal came within a game of being the 5th double hill match among the event’s final 13 matches. Roberts prevailed 9-7 for a second shot at Bruner in the hot seat.
Bruner got out in front and claimed the event title and title of tour champion with an 11-7 victory over Roberts.
Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Q Master Billiards, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, Aramith Balls, Simonis Cloth. Viking Cues, Brown’s Mechanical LLC, Kamui, Diamond Billiard Products, Ozone Billiards, CSI, Grant Wylie Photography and George Hammerbacher, Advanced Pool Instructor.