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Upsets Galore at U.S. Open as Former Champs Drop to One-Loss Bracket

The giants all fell from the winners’ bracket on Friday night at the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship in Chesapeake, Va., as Johnny Archer, Francisco Bustamante, Efren Reyes, Ralf Souquet, Niels Feijen and Jeremy Jones dropped to the one-loss side in the same round of matches.

The carnage started at 9 p.m. Friday with Filipinos Alex Pagulayan and Francisco Bustamante lagging on the TV table. The wily Pagulayan jumped to a quick 5-0 lead, allowing his foe near the table only once – and that was for a push. Regaining his world-beating form after two years of ho-hum play, the resurgent Bustamante rocketed back to take the lead at 9-8, but a hung 4 ball in the 18th rack brought Pagulayan back to the table, where he ran out and then ran the next two racks for an 11-9 victory.

“At the end I got lucky with the 4 ball,” Pagulayan said. “That was the key to the match. I was thinking when it was 8-8, just give me one more chance.”

On the next table over, Filipino expatriate Jose Parica kept one step ahead of countryman and longtime rival Reyes to win, 11-9. Reyes was joined soon on the one-loss side by several other former Open champions: Johnny Archer fell to Troy Frank, 11-6; Jeremy Jones lost to Andreas Roschkowsky, 11-9; and Ralf Souquet dropped a hill-hill slugfest with upstart Sylver Ochoa, 11-10.

This was all in the same round, mind you, and all within an hour of each other. Other significant winners’-bracket results from the 9 p.m. round included Nick Van den Berg smashing Charlie “Hillbilly” Bryant, 11-4; Viet Nam native Tang Hoa elbowing Holland’s Feijen, 11-8; and Charlie Williams halting Ernesto Dominguez.

That left eight men still in the winners’ bracket, and dozens left to brave the extraordinarily deep one-loss bracket in this field-of-256 competition with a $200,000 prize fund. At 3 p.m. EST, Tang will play Roschkowsky, Pagulayan will face Frank, Van den Berg will meet Parica, and Williams will lag against Ochoa.

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.

U.S. Fields Powerhouse Platoon for World Championship

The United States has fielded one of its strongest contingents yet for the 2005 World Pool Championship, bringing 12 proven shooters with at least one significant title each.

Producer Matchroom Sport this week announced the draw for the round-robin stage of the 128-man event, to be held July 2-10 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

The U.S. contingent will consist of former world champions Johnny Archer and Earl Strickland; U.S. Open victors Rodney Morris, Jeremy Jones and Gabe Owen; Reno Open champs Mike Davis, John Schmidt and Danny Basavich; BCA Open winners Cory Deuel and Charlie Williams; Glass City Open champion Charles Bryant; and 2005 Pro Players title-holder Shawn Putnam. (Several of these players have won more than one major title.)

At least in this case, new performance-based entry criteria devised by Matchroom Sport appear to have accomplished the goal of fielding the strongest players from participating countries. In recent years, with the United States Professional Poolplayers Association charged with fielding America’s participants, several marginal players slipped into the tournament when higher-ranked players declined invitations.

This year’s WPC field will feature players from at least 45 different countries. Six remaining slots for the final 128 will be determined during a qualifying tournament to be held in late June in Kaohsiung.

In the round-robin stage, it appears that Schmidt and Deuel have the toughest draws. Deuel’s 8-man group includes Holland’s Niels Feijen, Korea’s Young-hwa Jeong, Ronato Alcano from the Phillippines, Thorsten Schober from Germany and Italian champ Fabio Petroni.

Schmidt must contend with Sweden’s Marcus Chamat, Germany’s Andreas Roschkowsky, Gandy Valle of the Philippines, Spanish star David Alcaide, and Ying-chieh Chen of Taiwan, among others.

The top 64 players from the round-robin stage will advance to the single-elimination round. This year’s top prize is $75,000.

Reno: First Biggie For Basavich

Basavich won his first major title in Reno.

Basavich won his first major title in Reno.

At the Glass City Open in November, Danny “Kid Delicious” Basavich beat pool hero Jeremy Jones for the first time, and went on to take second place. According to the Kid, it was a highlight of his career to date.

At the Sands Regency Reno Open, Dec. 9-14, Basavich did himself one better. He beat Jones twice in a true double-elimination final, 9-5 and 9-6, to score his first major title ever.

Basavich came through the one-loss side of the tournament after a hill-hill loss to Cory Deuel early in the tournament. He plowed through the likes of Tony Chohan, Glenn Atwell, Charlie Bryant and Ernesto Dominguez to earn a chance to take down Jones.

Basavich’s win earned him $12,000 while Jones settled for $5,500. Breakthrough player Mike Vidas and Mexican stalwart Ernesto Dominguez finished third and fourth, respectively.

Owen Unlikely U.S. Open Champ

Saving his best for last Gabe Owen completed an unlikely run to the 29th U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship Sunday night in Chesapeake, Va., with a nearly flawless 11-3 drubbing of 2003 WPA World 9-Ball champion Thorsten Hohmann of Germany.

The 26-year-old Owen, who lives in Tulsa, Okla., took advantage of Hohmann’s opening-rack miscue and never looked back in completing his undefeated run through the traditionally star-studded 191-player field.

Hohmann looked poised to take the early lead, running through the first rack with ease, but he botched a short shot on the 9 ball. Owen raced off to leads of 5-1 and 10-2, running out from the break on five occasions, before closing out his surprising victory. The Open title was Owen’s first professional major win, and earned him $30,000.

“I’m really in shock,” said Owen, who was bear-hugged by best friend and 2003 U.S. Open champ Jeremy Jones after the final 9 had dropped. “Everyone is telling me I played almost perfect, but to be honest, it’s all a blur right now.”

Hohmann, who also lost in the winner’s bracket final to Owen, picked up $15,000 for second place.

Archer Wins Carolinas Open 9-Ball

It was a classic case of “Johnny Archer can’t lose” in the 9-ball division of the Carolinas Open at Fast Eddie’s in Goldsboro, N.C., Aug 18-22. The successful Scorpion was fresh from an early August win at the Master Billiard 9-Ball Challenge and clearly on a roll.

But for Archer’s final-match opponent, Texas’ “Double J,” Jeremy Jones, the situation looked more like double trouble. Jones was the man Archer beat to take the Big Apple crown, and here he was, facing his recent nemesis (and good friend) again, just a few weeks later.

It looked like this time might have a happy ending for Jones, as Jones took an early 9-4 lead in the race to 15. But Jone marked only two more game wins after that point, and Archer fought through to a 15-11 win.

Archer collected $4,500 for first place; Jones settled for $3,000. Shannon Daulton and Rodney Morris took third and fourth places, respectively.

Archer wins Big Apple 9-Ball Challenge

Johnny Archer has won the Master Billiards Big Apple 9-Ball Challenge.

Archer defeated Jose Parica to earn the hot-seat early Sunday afternoon and then defeated longtime friend and rival Jeremy Jones 13-12 in an epic battle.

Archer won $10,000 for first place while Jones settled for $6,000. Parica and Rodney Morris filled out the top four spots.

Mosconi Cup Lineup Set

57aMatchroom Sport released its Team USA and Team Europe rosters for the popular Mosconi Cup, held at York Hall in Bethnal Green, England, Dec. 20-23. The two six-man rosters were respectively selected in consultation with the Billiard Congress of America and European Pocket Billiard Federation.

Five-time Player of the Year Earl Strickland will return as captain of the American squad, which is rounded out by Corey Deuel, Johnny Archer, Jeremy Jones, Nick Varner and Charlie Williams. All but Varner and Williams were members of last year’s Cup-winning team.

Team Europe is comprised of captain Ralf Souquet (Germany), Marcus Chamat (Sweden), Steve Davis (England), Niels Feijen (Holland), Mika Immonen (Finland) and Steve Knight (England).

“Kaiser” Rolls On; Jones Finished

Germany’s Ralf “The Kaiser” Souquet continued his torrid play at the 2001 Admiral World Pool Championship in Cardiff, Wales. He controlled every moment of his quarterfinal match against Sweden’s Marcus Chamat, and captured an 11-1 victory.

Lone remaining American Jeremy Jones was also eliminated on Saturday. Jones, who battled a slight cold the night before, dropped his first seven games against Chia-hsiung Lai of Chinese Taipei. Lai never looked back, and held on for an 11-3 win. Jones collected $8,500 for a share of fifth place.

“We exchanged safeties early,” said Jones, “The next time I looked up, it was 7-0. I wish I could have represented the country a little further. I really wanted to win this tournament.”

USA’s Jeremy Jones Advances

At least one American player has reached the final eight, thanks to Texas’ Jeremy Jones. Battling a slight cold and fatigue, Jones held close to Spain’s David Alcaide, and finished him off by nailing a difficult jump shot on the 8 ball in the final rack to win, 11-9.

The only other American player remaining, Florida’s Charlie Williams, plays Leonardo Andam later this evening.