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IPT Round Three: The Plot Thickens as the Field Thins

Round three starts today in the International Pool Tour’s North American Open and already 17,066 games have been played. Fatigue certainly played a role yesterday with 120 players facing a $5,000 difference in payout as they were whittled down to 60 in 12 straight hours of 8-ball action. The 60 remaining contenders who advanced to round three have been placed into 12 groups of five players each. Three players from each group will advance to the next round. The 24 who are eliminated will receive a lovely parting gift of $10,000.

Here’s a breakdown of yesterday’s highlights:

Mike Sigel was eliminated with a 2-3 record after losses to Marlon Manalo, Marko Lohtander and Quinten Hann. “The Mouth” settled for 61st and a $5,000 consolation prize.

The female players are near extinction, survived only by Sarah Ellerby who edged out Corey Harper by less than one percentage point in win average to advance to round three. Both Loree Jon Jones and Allison Fisher went winless in round two, and Gerda Hofstatter was eliminated with only one win.

Only eight players went undefeated throughout yesterday’s round, including three Americans: David Matlock, Nick Varner, and Charlie Williams. Also unscathed: Australian Quinten Hann, Filipino Santos Sambajon, Mexican Rafael Martinez, Mika Immonen of Finland, and Ivica Putnik of Croatia.

The Filipino contingent is now down three men, with Warren Kiamco and Gandy Valle eliminated after round two, and Jose Parica eliminated after round one. Still, 10 of the original 13 remain and most dominated their groups. Francisco Bustamante fell to Efren Reyes, but has the highest winning percentage of the entire field at 73.68 percent. (Johnny Archer is second with 70 percent.)

Snooker superstar Ronnie O’Sullivan held on by the skin of his teeth, with only two wins, but advanced on the merit of his winning percentage. On the other hand, Takeshi Okumura missed out on advancing by 0.03 percent to Larry Nevel.

Veterans Allen Hopkins, Kim Davenport, Keith McCready are all heading home. George San Souci and Tony Chohan went winless in round two. Other notables who are heading home with $5,000 consolation prizes: Danny Basavich, Jeremy Jones, George Breedlove and Oliver Ortmann.

Round three is upon us, and each player will play five matches among formidable fields. Here’s a quick analysis:

Ellerby will have to face two top Americans: Gabe Owen and Charlie Williams and two Filipinos: Marlon Manolo and Ronato Alcano. Good luck!

Earl Strickland is alive and well in the tournament, but grouped with Raj Hundal and Efren Reyes, the recently inducted Hall-of-Famer will have to fight hard to see another day.

German Thorsten Hohmann is by far the biggest name in his group, but will face Mick Hill, a promising British 8-baller.

Check out this group: Break-and-run Bustamante, Undefeated Ozzy Quinten Hann, 8-Ball Boy Wonder Karl Boyes, Prince of Pool Cory Deuel, and Bad Boy O’Sullivan. Yikes!

Mika Immonen and John Schmidt will face off in their group — undoubtedly there will be some good-looking pool played there.

Hohmann Takes World 14.1 Straight Pool Top Honor

The German penchant for straight pool was evident in the final of the World 14.1 Straight Pool Championship, in which Thorsten Hohmann defeated his fellow countryman Thomas Engert, 200-80.

The first tournament of its kind in over 15 years, the World 14.1 Straight Pool Championship took place over six days, from May 30 to June 4 at the Hilton in East Brunswick, N.J., attracting an international field of 64 players.

Hohmann topped the list of high runs with 174, and tore through the bracket in the double-elimination second round and single-elimination final. In the first round, a round-robin format among eight groups of eight players, Hohmann survived the elimination of half the field with a record of five wins and two losses, to John Schmidt and Allen Hopkins, respectively.

In the second round, among 32 players, Hohmann remained on the winners’ side with wins over Antonio Fazanes, 150-68, and Charlie Williams, 150-14. With only the top 16 advancing to the third and final round, Hohmann defeated everyone in his path. He avenged his first loss to Schmidt with a 200-64 win, then went on to beat Austrian “Ice Princess” Jasmin Ouschan, 200-117, and came out on top of a tight match against Max Eberle, 200-177 to land in the final with Engert.

Engert had a tough road to the finals, losing to Allen Hopkins in the second round, but making it into the top 16 with a win over Vilmos Foldes, 150-45, on the one-loss side. In the final round, he matched up against some formidable straight pool opponents, including Bobby Hunter, who he barely bested, 200-177, straight-pool veteran Allen Hopkins, 200-32, and Mika Immonen, 200-80.

The all-German final saw Hohmann ahead for the entire match, jumping out to a 160-49 lead. Engert was able to narrow the gap to 80, but missed the 15 in the side pocket after leaving the cue ball burrowed into a stack of balls. Hohmann ran out the next two racks for the win.

A Day On The HIll At Mosconi Cup

On a day filled with tight matches, Team USA gained a two-match lead over Team Europe, 6-4, Friday at the 12th Annual Mosconi Cup in Las Vegas, although both squads will likely spend a restless night reliving missed opportunities that could have impacted the match score.

Bucking the trend of previous Mosconi Cups, Team USA won all three of its doubles matches on Day Two of the race-to-11 transatlantic 9-ball clash, while dropping both of its singles contests. And in both instances, American players all but handed the match to their Euro counterparts. Shawn Putnam, fresh off an opening match doubles win, squandered numerous opportunities and a 3-0 lead in dropping a 5-4 match to England’s Raj Hundal. And Jeremy Jones, coming off a doubles win with US captain Johnny Archer, bungled his way out of four elementary run-outs in a heartbreaking 5-4 loss to Germany’s Thorsten Hohmann.

But the Americans swept through doubles play, with Putnam and Charlie Williams besting Hohmann and Holland’s Neils Feijen, and Jones and Archer topping Euro captain Mika Immonen and Sweden’s Marcus Chamat by identical 5-4 margins.

In the day’s final match, Earl Strickland played the perfect gentleman with partner Rodney Morris in a convincing 5-2 win over Hundal and Holland’s Alex Lely. The Euros held an early 2-0 advantage, and threatened in game three, before a miss by Lely opened the floodgates for a five-rack US assault.

Strickland, who had battled fans during his Day One match, and unleashed an expletive-laced barrage during a live on-air interview, explained his change of heart.

“I need to stay more under control,” Strickland said after the match. “Because my emotions hurt my teammate. But I just think every player here deserves equal respect when they’re playing. These are the best players in the world.

“But I’ll tell you,” he added, “There will never be another one of me. I guess that’s why I’m always introduced as ‘The One and Only,'”

Comeback, Blowup Highlight Mosconi Day One!

After dropping the opening two matches on the first day of the 2005 Mosconi Cup, Team USA charged back with three consecutive wins, highlighted by a contentious 5-4 doubles victory, to earn a 3-2 lead at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

The transatlantic team event features two new twists for 2005, a 30-second shot clock and alternating singles-doubles matches. Because the event is carried live throughout the United Kingdom on Sky Sports, the format features one five-hour block of matches each day. The shortened TV window forced promoter Matchroom Sport to cut the 2005 Mosconi to a race to 11. To assure each player opportunities for singles play, Matchroom is running a three doubles matches, with two singles matches sandwiched in between.

The event opened with Thorsten Hohmann of Germany and Neils Feijen of Holland thumping the American duo of captain Johnny Archer and Jeremy Jones, 5-1. Euro captain Mika Immonen then beat Archer in singles, 5-2, to give Europe a quick 2-0 match lead.

But the Americans stormed back with Cup newcomer Shawn Putnam and Charlie Williams bouncing 24-year-old Raj Hundal of England and Alex Lely of Holland, 5-3. Williams, not traditionally a strong performer in the Mosconi Cup, continued his powerful Day One performance with a convincing 5-3 singles win over Feijen to draw the Americans even, 2-2.

As if scripted, the day’s finale, pitting the U.S. duo of Earl Strickland and Rodney Morris (unbeaten in 2004) against Immonen and Sweden’s Marcus Chamat, evolved into drama-filled cat fight. The Americans free-wheeled to a 4-0 lead, then withstood a furious Euro rally that knotted the match at 4-4. During the match, the pro-Euro and pro-American fans took turns pushing the good-taste envelope, and Strickland got into one of his patented verbal sparring matches with several fans.

The Euro pair had a chance to complete the comeback, but found themselves hooked shooting at the 5 ball. With their extensions used up (each team is allowed two per rack), Chamat appeared to foul by not attempting his shot before the clock expired. Referee Micheala Tabb awarded the Euros a second chance after ruling that the clock had not given Chamat fair warning. Chamat fouled on his attempt, and the Americans ran out to earn the 5-4 win and a 3-2 match lead at the close of action.

In the post-match interview, aired live in the U.K., Strickland berated the European fans and engaged in a profanity-laced exchange with a female fan in the crowd.

With that, the 2005 Mosconi Cup was off and running. Play will continue Friday with another round of three doubles and two singles matches. For more information on the day’s action, log on to MosconiCup.com

Team Europe Gunning for USA at Mosconi Cup

One of the strongest European teams in years believes that it can dethrone Team USA at the 2005 Mosconi Cup, set to kick off Thursday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nev.

The four-day international pool tilt will pit Americans Johnny Archer, Rodney Morris, Shawn Putnam, Jeremy Jones, Earl Strickland and Charlie Williams against a stacked European squad, featuring Mika Immonen, Niels Feijen, Thorsten Hohmann, Raj Hundal, Marcus Chamat and Alex Lely.

The Americans have won nine of the 11 previous Cups, including a 12-9 victory in 2004.

BD Publisher Mike Panozzo notes that, in previous years, Team Europe has been somewhat handicapped by the inclusion of snooker stars and unproven United Kingdom 9-ballers, often included to boost interest and television ratings in the U.K., home of tournament producer Matchroom Sports and primary TV partner Sky Sports. Team Europe has no such hindrances in 2005, and has, in fact, pieced together its most talented squad ever.

However, Panozzo has still picked the USA to win the event this year (and in the process has set off a firestorm of controversy in online chat rooms), based on its overall talent, experience and sense of entitlement.

For up-to-the-minute updates on Mosconi Cup action, go to the event’s Web site at www.mosconicup.com.

U.S. Open Field Down to Half

Ochoa's play is turning some heads.

Ochoa’s play is turning some heads.

The 256-man full-capacity field has been cut in half on the fifth day of the 30th annual U.S. Open 9-ball Championships in Chesapeake, Va. there were no gimme matches left as several big name had slipped into the treacherous, mile-deep losers’ bracket.

Reno Open winner Marlon Manalo and 2003 BCA 9-ball Open titlist Tony Robles found themselves slugging it out deep in the one-loss bracket on Friday afternoon. Nearby, major event winners Marcus Chamat and Mike Davis faced off as red-hot Robb Saez and 2004 BCA champion Thorsten Hohmann battled for survival in the one-loss bracket.

Playing on diamond tables with 4 1/2 inch pockets and an absolutely unforgiving cut the finesse players and most experienced pros seemed to have an edge.

“You aren’t seeing a lot of guys breaking and running out,” said pro Tony Crosby.

Among the 16 players left in the winners’ bracket was Efren Reyes, who dropped defending U.S. Open champ Gabe Owen to the one-loss side, 11-8 on Thursday night. Reyes will meet Filipino countryman Jose Parica on Friday night. After a weak showing at the World Pool Championships, the Filipino contingent is performing quite well here; Alex Pagulayan and a resurgent Francisco Bustamante will meet in a winners’-bracket match on Friday night as well.

So far, the surprise of the tournament is young Sylver Ochoa, 19, a college sophomore at Texas-Pan American and a mainstay on the Fast Eddie’s regional tour. Ochoa beat Keith McCready Thursday night, 11-8, to stay undefeated. He will face Ralf Souquet on Friday night in a winners’-bracket match.

The sixteen players now left in the winners’ bracket are:
Nick Van den Berg, Charlie “Hillbilly” Bryant, Jose Parica, Efren Reyes, Ernesto Dominguez, Charlie Williams, Ralf Souquet, Sylver Ochoa, Tang Hoa, Niels Feijen, Andreas Roschkowsky, Jeremy Jones, Alex Pagulayan, Francisco Bustamante, Johnny Archer and Troy Frank.

“Rocket” Lone US Medal Hope

Rodney Morris overcame an early 4-1 deficit against Germany’s Thomas Engert Friday evening to win 11-8 and advance to the semifinals of the men’s 9-ball division at the 2005 World Games in Duisburg, Germany. With the ousters Friday of Charlie Williams and Vivian Villarreal, Morris is the only U.S. contestant remaining in the four cue sport medal categories.

Morris will face former world 9-ball champion and reigning Billiard Congress of American Open 9-Ball Champion Thorsten Hohmann of Germany on Saturday for the right to play in the Gold Medal game. Hohmann squeaked past Sweden’s Tom Storm, 11-10, to earn his semifinal spot. The other Saturday semi in the men’s division will pit China’s Pei-Wei Chang against surprising Vangelis Vettas of Greece. Vettas, who shocked Germany’s Ralf Souquet in the opening round of the 16-player single-elimination field, dumped Williams, 11-7, on Friday. Chang, 2004 World Pool Championship runnerup, beat Holland’s Niels Feijen, 11-7.

In Women’s 9-Ball, Korea’s Sung-Hyun Jung beat Villarreal, 11-8, to earn a spot in the semifinals. She’ll be joined by Jennifer Chen, who upended Allison Fisher, Jasmin Oschan of Austria, and Norway’s Line Kjorsvik.

Two Turks, Semih Sayginer and Murat Coklu, earned semifinal spots in the Men’s Carom discipline, along with Dick Jaspers of Holland and defending champion Danny Sanchez of Spain.

Men’s Snooker saw 18-year-old Jun-Hui Ding post a 138 clearance enroute to a 3-0 win over Germany’s Lasse Munstermann. Ding reached the semis along with Amateur World Champion Mark Allen of England, countryman Gerard Greene and Belgium’s Bjorn Haneveer, who overcame a 2-1 deficit to beat England’s Gavin Pantall, 3 sets to 2.

World Games Quarterfinals Set

Americans Rodney Morris, Charlie Williams and Vivian Villarreal will take U.S. medal hopes into quarterfinal matches today at the World Games in Duisburg, Germany.

In men’s 9-ball, Morris, who routed Aruba’s Roland Acosta, 11-4, on Wednesday, will face Germany’s Thomas Engert, and Williams, an 11-7 winner over Japan’s Massashi Hoshi, will battle Vangelis Vettas of Greece. Vettas shocked Germany’s Ralf Souquet, 11-10, in the opening round of the 16-player single-elimination event.

Villiarreal, the lone U.S. competitor in the women’s 9-ball division, faces Korea’s Sung-Hyun Jung. Defending champion Jeanette Lee pulled out of the competition at the last minute because of impending back surgery.

Sweden’s Tom Storm, Germany’s Thorsten Hohmann, Holland’s Neils Feijen and Chinese star Pei-Wei Chang round out the final eight in the men’s division.

Top-ranked Allison Fisher, Taiwan’s Jennifer Chen, Italy’s Tiziana Cacciamani, Austria’s Jasmine Ouschan, Japan’s Yukiko Hamanishi and former WPBA regular Line Kjorsvik of Norway make up the remaining women competitors.

Men’s carom billiards and men’s snooker is also being contested at the international sports festival, which is seen as an important stepping stone for the cue sports’ Olympic Games hopes. Two high-ranking officials, Kelly Fairweather, Sports Director of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Ron Froelich, President of the International World Games Association (IWGA), were on hand at the Saalbau arena in Bottrop for the opening matches of the billiard competition.

Morris, Williams and Villarreal Cue Up at World Games

DUISBURG, Germany, July 20 — The billiard portion of the 2005 World Games kicks off today with men competing in three disciplines (carom, snooker and 9-ball) and women in 9-ball only. Rodney Morris and Charlie Williams will represent the U.S. in 9-ball on the men’s side, and Vivian Villarreal will cue up for the American women.

The finals in all four groups will be played on Sunday, July 24. Billiards Digest staff will have regular updates here on Headstring News from the competition.

From July 14-24 at the World Games, Duisburg and partner cities Bottrop, Oberhausen and Mülheim an der Ruhr are expected to welcome 500,000 spectators in 27 venues, plus host the over 3,500 athletes from 100 nations who will compete in 40 sports and 177 disciplines.

WPC Knows No Favorites as Big Names Fall

As round-robin play at the World Pool Championship draws to a close, some big names are arranging for flights out of Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Top performers like Mosconi Cup veterans Ralf Souquet (Germany) and Charlie Williams (USA) are packing their bags, and Steve Davis (England) and Filipino legend Efren Reyes are hanging on by a mathematical thread.

The ranks of the undefeated include Johnny Archer (USA), the Philippines’ Marlon Manalo, Taiwanese hopes Po-cheng Kuo and Che-wei Fu, Japan’s Satoshi Kawabata and Scottish challenger Michael Valentine.

There’s one more day to go in the round-robin stage, which pares the 128-man field to 64 players, who then will brave the single-elimination stage.