PoolRoom

Who Will Rule Pool?

The World Pool Masters are underway at the Hotel Zuiderduin in Egmond aan Zee, The Netherlands, with 16 male players vying for wold dominance in straight-knockout, single-elimination 9-ball.

Of the 16 players, nine are Europeans: Nick van den Berg, Alex Lely and Neils Feijen of Holland, Thomas Engert and Ralf Souquet of Germany, and Ronnie O’Sullivan, Steve Davis, Imran Majid and Raj Hundal of England. The remainder of the field was filled out by Wu Chia-ching of the Chinese Taipei, Hiroshi Takenaka of Japan, Efren Reyes and Alex Pagulayan of the Philippines and Rodney Morris as the lone American.

The first-round began today (June 16) and so far, defending champion Hundal eliminated Hiroshi Takenaka, 8-5, while Feijen sent Morris packing, 8-3. Feijin’s win will put him in the quarterfinal with Hundal on Saturday evening.

Morris, who reached the final of last year’s event, said: “I felt good but with the alternate-break format I couldn’t come back when I went down a couple of games.”

Meanwhile, Foldes nabbed a nail-biter match against van den Berg, 7-8. The back-and-forth match was at hill-hill when Foldes broke and ran out for the win, much to the dismay of the Dutch crowd.

“I’m delighted to have won. It was a very tough game and either of us could have won it but in the end I kept it together to clear that last rack for victory,” Foldes said afterwards.

IPT Holds Press Conference in London Relating to International Television Deals

International Pool Tour founder Kevin Trudeau, along with IPT Executive Director Jon Denny and IPT Tour Director Deno Andrews, is expected to make several major announcements about the global television deals that have been signed by the tour, including unprecedented live coverage of all 2006 events.

The event, held today at the Hard Rock Café in central London, is being called the biggest press conference in the history of pool, with dozens of representatives of major U.K. and European newspapers, magazines and television networks expected to attend.

Top IPT European players are scheduled to attend the media event, including Ronnie O’Sullivan and Raj Hundal of the U.K., Neils Feijin and Nick Van Den Berg of the Netherlands, France’s Vincent Facquet and Gerda Hofstatter, originally from Austria.

Stay tuned to Headstring News for any breaking news items that result from the press conference.

Team USA Puts the Hammer Down

Team USA captain Johnny Archer couldn’t wait for the action to commence on Day Three of the 2005 Mosconi Cup in Las Vegas. With his team holding a 6-4 lead in the 12th annual edition of the transatlantic 9-ball clash, Archer knew he could stack his line-up for the three doubles and two singles matches.

The only Americans who had yet to play singles were heavy-hitters Rodney Morris and Earl Strickland. They would be matched up against Holland’s Alex Lely and Sweden’s Marcus Chamat, the only Euros who’d yet to see singles action.

“We set today’s line-up to sweep all five matches and end this tournament right now,” Archer said of the race-to-11 format. “As long as we were ahead during the first two days, I wanted to save Rodney and Earl for today. And I could put them in the doubles match between their two singles matches. The Europeans will have to face them three matches in a row. Then, we’ll close the day with me and Jeremy (Jones). We’re going for the kill.”

Archer’s plan almost worked to perfection, as Team USA , despite dropping the first match of the day, rolled to four wins and now teeter on the brink of their 10th Mosconi Cup title in the 12-year history of the event.

Having lost five of the first six doubles matches, Team Europe juggled its pairings for Saturday’s action. Captain Mika Immonen of Finland paired the Dutch duo of Alex Lely and Neils Feijen, and placed newcomer Raj Hundal of England with Germany’s Thorsten Hohmann.

The move paid immediate dividends when Lely and Feijen topped the American duo of Charlie Williams and Shawn Putnam, 5-3, to narrow the US’s overall lead to a single match, 6-5.

Things continued to look promising for the Euros when Lely, playing flawlessly after a shaky opening day, opened a 3-1 lead over Morris. But a positional error and miss allowed Morris to tie the match at 3-3, and a scratch on the break when leading 4-3 signaled Lely’s last trip to the table. Morris cleaned up that rack, and ran out from the break for a 5-4 win to give the US another two-match cushion.

From there, the US floodgates opened. Strickland and Morris continued their unbeaten streak as teammates with a convincing 5-2 beating of Immonen and Chamat, and Strickland raced through a 5-2 pounding of Chamat in singles. The team of Archer and Jones then pushed the US to the hill with a solid 5-3 win over Hundal and Hohmann.
The final day of the Mosconi Cup will consist solely of single matches, with the US needing just one win to secure the trophy.

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.

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.

England’s Raj Hundal Wins World Pool Masters

Hundal made a prize winning comeback.

Hundal made a prize winning comeback.

Playing against American powerhouse Rodney Morris, Raj Hundal was down. He was way down, in fact — behind 7-1 in a race-to-8 final at the 888.com World Pool Masters, held Sept. 2-4 in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England.

But the 23-year-old Londoner wasn’t finished just yet. He’d already had the run of his life, beating Niels Feijen and Thomas Engert, among others, to get to the finals. Morris got to the hill after Hundal scratched on the break, and victory seemed unimaginable for Hundal, but he wasn’t ready to hang up his stick. Morris missed a long cut on the 1 in the next game, and Hundal turned it into the opportunity of a lifetime.

Game after game, Hundal put himself back on the scoreboard. He won eight consecutive games to win it all with a final score of 8-7. “I guess what goes around comes around,” Morris told event promoter Matchroom Sport. “But that’s pool. I don’t mind losing to Raj, though, because he’s a cool guy!”

Hundal, who collected $20,000 for the win, was overwhelmed: “It was the best day of my career, but now I’m just at a loss for words,” he said.

“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.