PoolRoom

Strickland sent packing

One night after barely squeezing into the Round of 32 with a 9-8 win over Ramil Gallego, Earl Strickland was eliminated from the 2001 Admiral World Pool Championship in Cardiff, Wales, on Thursday night. German Andreas Roschkowsky topped the five-time Player of the Year, 9-7, to advance to the last 16, beginning on Friday.

Byrne, Ceulemans get BCA Hall of Fame nods

The voters have spoken, and Earl Strickland can begin making plans to attend the World Pool Championship in Cardiff.

In a vote that seemed to underscore the business nature of the BCA electorate, author Robert Byrne and legendary Belgian 3-cushion star Raymond Ceulemans earned entry into the Billiard Congress Hall of Fame, according to the BCA. Byrne and Ceulemans become the 39th and 40th members of the Hall. The duo emerged as the top vote-getters on a five-person ballot that included Strickland and fellow contemporary players Jim Rempe and Allen Hopkins. Strickland had previously insisted that, if elected, he would bypass the $300,000 world championship to attend the BCA Hall of Fame banquet.

Byrne, 70, credited with drawing thousands of players into the game through his seven books and five videos on billiards, will become the eighth person to be inducted in the Meritorious Service category. Ceulemans, 63, dominated the world 3-cushion scene from the ’60s into the ’90s, winning 16 of his 19 world-titles in an 18-year period between 1962 and 1980.

That the Hall of Fame vote is in the hands of BCA’s 125 Voting members and 175 Associate members (nearly 60 percent of the Voting membership voted, while just 25 percent of the Assoicate members submitted ballots, according to the BCA) probably increased Byrne’s chances, since his books and videos are well known to the BCA business populace. Meanwhile, industry pundits will likely wonder whether the lack of support for Strickland was a direct reflection of his sometimes volatile career.

Hall of Fame Ballot Released

Three first-timers joined a pair of returning nominees on the 2001 Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame Ballot. Author Bob Byrne, three-cushion legend Raymond Ceulemans and player of the year Earl Strickland all make their first appearance on the ballot. Allen Hopkins and Jim Rempe are holdovers from last year. The voting membership of the BCA will elect one or two of the nominees and the winner will be announced in the spring.

Strickland’s holiday wish

By edging Efren Reyes, 13-9, in the final of the US-RP Challenge in Muntinlupa City, Philippines, American Earl Strickland may have already secured his biggest holiday wish. “Finally, I got what I wished for,” Strickland told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, “to beat Reyes on his own turf.” With the victory, Strickland earned $20,000, while Reyes took home $10,000 for second place.

After knocking off Francisco Bustamante in the semifinals, 13-9, Strickland held off all of Reyes’ comeback efforts in the final, including a brief run that cut Strickland’s 10-6 lead in half. Strickland added wins in three of he final four racks to claim the victory.

U.S. Surge, Regain Mosconi Cup

Unleashing its arsenal of high-powered talend, Team USA rebounded from an 8-6 deficit to win four of five matches on Sunday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas to win the 2003 Mosconi Cup over Team Europe, 11-9. Cup-clinching 9 ball honors went to U.S. Open winner Jeremy Jones, whose 5-3 win over Sweden’s Marcus Chamat allowed the U.S. squad to recapture the Cup it had lost to the Euros in London last December.

After suffering through a five-match drought on Saturday, Team USA opened the final day’s action with four consecutive match wins. Cup debutante Rodney Morris opened the floodgates with a energizing 5-3 win over reigning world 9-ball champion Thorsten Hohmann of Germany. Johnny Archer then tied the contest with a 5-2 thumping of Steve Davis, and Earl Strickland gave the U.S. a lead it would never relinquish with a thrilling, 5-4, win over 23-year-old Dutchman Nick Van den Berg.

The U.S. squad got perhaps its biggest boost in the next match, when Mosconi rookie Tony Robles, who had not played well through the four-day event, put together a near-perfect performance against Europe’s top player, Mika Immonen of Finland. Immonen had been unbeaten in three matches going into Sunday, and earned the MVP award as the player who scored the most match points. But Robles scored a 5-2 win to put the Americans on the hill, 10-8.

Germany’s Ralf Souquet kept Europe’s hopes alive with a 5-3 win over Charlie Williams, but Jones closed the door on Europe’s hopes against Chamat. It marks the eighth time in the 10-year history of the event that the U.S. squad came out on top.

For more Mosconi Cup highlights and photos, log on to www.mosconicup.com.

Team Europe Blitzes to Mosconi Lead

In a stunning turnaround that had members of the U.S. squad befuddled and bitter, Team Europe rolled through five straight match wins Saturday afternoon to take an 8-6 lead in the 2004 Mosconi Cup at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Trailing, 6-3, as the third day of the Ryder Cup-styled team 9-ball tournament kicked off, the Euros earned a much-needed boost when 23-year-old Nick Van den Berg scored a 5-3 win over mistake-prone Mosconi rookie Tony Robles. Then, in what may be looked back on as the event’s critical match, Germans Ralf Souquet and Thorsten Hohmann edged the U.S. duo of Johnny Archer and Rodney Morris, 5-4, to trim the overall score to 6-5 in the race-to-11.

With European fans becoming more boisterous by the game, snooker legend Steve Davis pitched an unlikely 5-0 shutout against Earl Strickland. Strickland was livid before and after the match, as Mosconi producers Sky Sports aired a pre-match promo that centered on the volatile Strickland’s actions during a match against Davis at the World Pool Championships in Cardiff in July. At that event, Strickland battled the pro-Davis crowd, the match referee, and Davis himself.

Scandanavians Mika Immonen and Marcus Chamat then topped Charlie Williams and Jeremy Jones, 5-3, in the final doubles match to give Europe its first lead of the event at 7-6. The day finished with Souquet pocketing a table-length kick at the 8 ball in the case game for a 5-4 triumph over Jones.

For more match highlights and photos from the 2004 Mosconi Cup, log on to www.mosconicup.com.

U.S. Assumes Command

On the heels of spirited and nearly flawless play from Mosconi Cup debutante Rodney Morris, Team USA won three of four matches Friday afternoon at the MGM Grand Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas to take a 6-3 lead over Team Europe in the annual Matchroom Sport-promoted team tournament.

Morris, unbeaten in his two matches thus far (one doubles win and one singles victory), made the most of every shooting opportunity and worked the capacity crowd into near hysteria while teamming with Johnny Archer in a 5-1 stomping of the German duo of Ralf Souquet and Thorsten Hohmann. Morris continually urged the pro-U..S. crowd for support during the match.

Day Two of the Ryder Cup-style event began with Jeremy Jones, who learned he would be leading off in singles competition just 20 minutes prior to the opening lag, beating Sweden’s Marcus Chamat, 5-3. Earl Strickland and Tony Robles then paired to topple Steve Davis and Nick Van den Berg by the same score. The only thing that kept Europe from squandering all four opportunities on Friday was Mika Immonen’s thrilling 5-4 win over Charlie Williams. Williams had fought back from a 4-1 deficit to tie the match, and had the break in the case game. Not only did Williams fail to make a ball on the break, but he left Immonen a 1-9 combination that sealed his doom. Because of the U.S.’s three-game lead, the promoters decided not to stage a fifth match on Friday, for fear that another U.S. win might lead to an early end to the race-to-11 tournament. In 2001, the U.S. ended the event on Saturday with a 12-1 thrashing, leaving Matchroom and TV partner Sky Sports with no Sunday programming.

For more information on the 2004 Mosconi Cup, log onto www.mosconicup.com.

U.S. Takes Early Mosconi Cup Lead

A surprisingly large and boisterous turn-out greeted Team USA and Team Europe on Thursday when the Mosconi Cup team tournament made its U.S. debut at the MGM Grand Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas, and the players didn’t disappoint. In a five-match mix of singles and doubles play, the U.S. squad closed out the opening day with a 3-2 advantage in the race-to-11 tournament.

Uncertain of how the Mosconi Cup, wildly successful for nine years in London, would fare in America, promoter Barry Hearn of Matchroom Sport was overwhelmed by the 300-plus fans that filled the arena for the 11 a.m. opening lag. “This is absolutely fantastic,” said Hearn, who hopes to switch the Cup to a home-and-home series from this point on. Bouyed by nearly 100 Euros who made the pre-Christmas trek to Las Vegas, the first day featured raucous cheering for the two sides.

The opening match featured Johnny Archer, pool’s hotest player, against reigning World Pool Champion Thorsten Hohmann of Germany. Archer jumped to an early lead, and held on for a nerve-wracking 5-4 win in a match that lasted some 90 minutes.

Europe tied the match when the Scandanavian duo of Marcus Chamat and Mika Immonen rolled to a 5-1 win over Tony Robles and Charlie Williams.

The U.S. took a 3-1 lead after Rodney Morris made an impressive Mosconi Cup debut with a 5-3 pasting of Ralf Souquet, and the team of Earl Strickland and Jeremy Jones squandered a 4-0 lead, but outlasted Steve Davis and Nick Van den Berg, 5-4.

Europe stayed within striking distance of the Americans when Immonen topped Archer, 5-3, in the day’s final match.

For more information and photos from the 2004 Mosconi Cup, and match-by-match updates, go to www.mosconicup.com.

Drago, Dragon Take Titles

Tony Drago of Malta is making a splash in 9-ball circles after years as a snooker pro. He gave the 9-ball world his notice by reaching the semi-finals of the WPA World Pool Championships earlier in the summer, and now he’s proved his worth with a first-place finish at the 2003 World Pool Masters, in Egmond aan Zee, Holland. Drago defeated Taiwan’s Hui-kai Hsia, 8-6, in a tense battle highlighted by a handful of Drago’s lightning-fast run-outs. To get to the final, Drago took matches from Earl Strickland, Nick van den Berg and Alex Pagulayan. The 37-year-old potter was elated by his success. “To win this was something else for me. I enjoyed it so much, and the crowd here were fantastic — the best in the world. I’m starting to play more and more, and 9-ball will be a big part of my future,” he told event promoter Matchroom Sport. Drago’s win earned him $20,000.

On the other side of the ocean, American pool pro Charlie Williams was busy winning his second title within a two-week span. Williams’ 13-8 victory over Ronnie Wiseman in the finals of the 2003 Capital City Classic, comes right on the heels of his Big Apple 9-Ball Challenge win last week in New York City. To take the Capital City win, Williams powered through 9 straight games after being sent to the losers’ side by Wiseman early in the tournament. Williams took $8,500 for first place, while Wiseman settled for $4,700. Cory Deuel and Luc Salvas took third and fourth, respectively.

Danny Hewitt Takes 10-Ball Crown

Danny Hewitt of Montreal, Quebec, defeated Hall-of-famer Jim Rempe in a tense hill-hill match, 10-9, to take the title at the Trump Marina 10-Ball Challenge in Atlantic City, N.J., held Feb. 19-23.

Hewitt was fresh off a second-place finish at the Joss Northeast 9-ball tour’s stop at Cap’s Cue Club in Syracuse, N.Y., where he had met defeat in the form of Alex Pagulayan.

On his way to the 10-ball win, Hewitt got his revenge over Pagulayan. He lost his first match to fellow Canadian Claude Bernatchez (winner of this year’s Senior Masters Tournament) before plowing through the likes of Luc Salvas, Pagulayan, Ronnie Alcano, and Francisco Bustamante, to name a few. Rempe, for his part, defeated Hungarian star Sandor Tot, Pagulayan, and Earl Strickland, among others, to earn his shot at the big prize.

Hewitt earned $20,000 for coming out on top while Rempe took home $14,000 for second place; Alcano and Bustamante rounded out the top four spots.