Sam Cooley, from Mt. Warrigal New South Wales has won his first PBA (Professional Bowlers Association) title, the Cheetah Championship at the World Series of Bowling XII in Tampa, Florida.
It has taken six years for Cooley to earn his first tournament victory since joining the tour in 2015, with his previous career best finish of third which he achieved on three separate occasions.
He survived against multiple-time PBA Tour titlists Anthony Simonson and Marshall Kent in the first two matches of the finals, televised on FS1 in the US. Advancing to the first PBA tournament final of his career, Cooley comfortably took down the heavily favoured Kris Prather 247-185 to claim his first win.
The final turned out to be completely one sided, as Prather fouled while attempting a spare in the first frame to give Cooley the early advantage. He went on to roll a four-bagger (four strikes in-a-row) to claim a huge lead and never looked back, as Prather struggled to string strikes together.
It was an emotional victory for the Australian, as he dedicated his first title to his mother, who passed away early last year to cancer. Cooley, who is usually a cool customer on and off the lanes, struggled to hold back the tears in the moment he knew he had the Cheetah Championship won – the biggest moment of his professional bowling career.
Now that the monkey is off the back and Cooley has finally achieved that elusive first win on tour, he now has the self-belief that he can notch up more titles in the future.
“I’m glad today worked out,” Cooley told PBA.com. “I’ll have a lot more confidence moving forward. Now that I know I can do it, hopefully it’ll happen more regularly.”
Cooley joins fellow Australian and world number one Jason Belmonte as a PBA Tour titlist.
“So happy and proud of my fellow countryman, Belmonte said on Twitter. “Sam was legit tonight, showing the world of his potential. So happy to have another Aussie now own a PBA Tour title”.
Cooley’s attention now shifts to the final two majors of the season, the USBC Masters followed by the US Open in April, before returning home to Australia.
Feature Photo: Courtesy of BowlersJournal.com