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. Open Update!

Gabe Owen is the defending champ.

Gabe Owen is the defending champ.

The U.S. Open is going into its third day, and there are already a few upsets on the board. Pablo Matheu defeated Tony Robles and David Grossman beat Rodney Morris.

But many favorites are still undefeated after two rounds, including Efren Reyes and John Schmidt (who play each other today), as well as former U.S. Open Champs Johnny Archer and Francisco Bustamante and defending champ Gabe Owen.

BD Live Chat with Barry Behrman

Behrman (l.) with 2003 Open runner-up Jose Parica.

Behrman (l.) with 2003 Open runner-up Jose Parica.

Here’s your chance to chew the fat with one of pool’s most celebrated and controversial figures — U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship promoter Barry Behrman.

Behrman will make himself available for a live online chat beginning at 8 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Sept. 14, right here on the BD Web site. Just click the live chat icon on Wednesday for access.

Creator and promoter of the longest running major championship event in pool, Behrman has a unique and authoritative perspective on the history of the game and its current state. Among other topics, Behrman will hold forth on his special plans for the 30th annual U.S. Open, which will kick off Sept. 19; the upstart International Pool Tour, financed by controversial informercial magnate Kevin Trudeau; and perhaps even how Behrman is rehabilitating his image after legal troubles and skirmishes with the UPA men’s player association earlier in the decade.

Behrman’s always candid and eloquent, so don’t miss this chance to learn more about one of pool’s most fascinating figures. And with BD’s Player of the Year award entirely up for grabs this year, the Open could be 2005’s most important event. Don’t miss out.

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.

Deuel is U.S. Open Champ

Corey Deuel blanked reigning WPA World Champion Mika Immonen in Chesapeake, Va., Sunday, Sept. 16, to take the 26th U.S. Open title over a field of 217 players.

Deuel collected a reported $30,000 at the end of a controversial tournament that forged ahead despite the terrorist attack on New York’s World Trade Center on Tuesday, and promoter Barry Behrman’s mid-tournament prize-fund reduction.

See the November issue of Billiards Digest for full coverage.

More Trouble for Behrman

Chesapeake, Va. – Whether its natural disasters or continued trouble with the law, embattled U.S. Open promoter Barry Behrman just can’t seem to right his ship.

On Oct. 10, a judge found Behrman guilty of violating probation a second time since his conviction last year on illegal gambling charges, according to a report in The Virginian-Pilot.

Behrman was sentenced to six months in jail, but will receive credit for the 72 days he has served since his arrest in July.

“Mr. Behrman abused the court,” Circuit Judge Bruce H. Kushner said during the Oct. 10 hearing. “He took advantage of the court assisting him in making a living. He thinks he can hustle the world.”

Last month, Kushner allowed Behrman to leave jail temporarily so that he could direct the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships at the Chesapeake Conference Center. Behrman returned to jail the day after the tournament ended.

It was an eventful week for Behrman to say the least, as Hurricane Isabel rammed the Virginia coast and forced a one-day suspension in play. According to The Virginian-Pilot, Behrman told the court that he lost $50,000 on the Open.

Behrman also failed court-ordered drug testing during the tournament and thus violated his probation. Behrman, who has failed several drug tests in the past, had told his probation officer that he had used prescription drugs.

Behrman will be on probation again when he is released, and if he fails a drug test, Kushner said, he will be sent to prison to serve about six years that were suspended when he was convicted last year of running an illegal gambling operation, illegally selling alcohol and
failing to file a certificate for a business license.

According to The Virginian-Pilot, Behrman also told Kushner that he has had to sell his $625,000 home and is in trouble with the Internal Revenue Service, apparently for unpaid taxes in connection with his business, Q-Master Billiards in Virginia Beach.

Isabel Delays, But Does Not Stop, U.S. Open

Hurricane Isabel has hit land, with the eye of the storm centered just south of Ocracoke Island, N.C., and about 70 miles southeast of Chesapeake, Va., the site of the currently-delayed U.S. Open. While the Chesapeake Conference Center, where the event is being held, has closed for the day, their outgoing phone message predicts that they will be open by tomorrow. Over 300,000 homes are without power across Virginia and North Carolina, but the Open’s official hotel, the nearby Holiday Inn, still has phone services and power. They’ve taped the windows, but haven’t seen the need to board them, and they have yet to see any serious flooding in the immediate area. The representative who answered the phone at the Holiday Inn sounded optimistic: “Everything’s supposed to be cleared up by tomorrow. Tomorrow’s the clean-up day, and then we’re supposed to have a beautiful weekend.”

U.S. Open promoter Barry Behrman’s room, Q-Master Billiards, where there were tentative plans for a party today, is much closer to the coast, in Chesapeake Bay. CCN.com is reporting that the 16th street pier in Chesapeake Bay has been pulled into the sea by the rising storm surge. Q-Master Billiards had no electricity as of 1:30 EST, but the phones were working and the employee answering the phone was in good spirits. Asked about the conditions, he laughed, “Oh, it’s wet.” The poolroom’s windows are taped, but not boarded, and the power outage has prevented them from holding any get-togethers. “[Q-Master’s] would be packed if the power was on right now. All we can do is wait at this point,” Behrman said.

When it comes to the main event, Behrman is sticking to the plan: “[The U.S. Open is] closed today, but we’ll re-open tomorrow … We’ll be there at 10am at the Conference Center tomorrow morning.”

Behrman Philosophical As Hurricane Isabele Threatens U.S. Open

WITH WHAT U.S. Open promoter Barry Behrman has been through in the past three years, the threat of a hurricane must seem like a minor nuisance.

Nonetheless, Hurricane Isabele, which is expected to rattle the eastern seaboard in the next two days, will cause the 28th running of the U.S. Open to shut down for at least a day. The City of Chesapeake has ordered all public facilities, including the Chesapeake Convention Center, which is hosting the U.S. Open, closed by 11:00 p.m. Wednesday evening, and not to be re-opened before Friday morning.

“We fully expect to be back up and running Friday morning,” said Behrman, who received a two-week release from prison, where he is awaiting a probation violation hearing, to conduct his annual tournament. “The forecast is for the winds to die down by the time it hits the Norfolk area.”

Behrman added that his 24-hour poolroom, Q-Master Billiards, will remain open on Thursday and will be the site of a daylong “Pool Party” for the players and spectators.

Should he receive the go-ahead to resume play Friday morning, Behrman said the tournament will conclude Sunday evening, as planned.

“Hey!” said the 57-year-old promoter. “I’ve got to be back in the pokey Monday, so we’ve got to be finished!”

In Behrman’s favor is the fact that the 2003 Open field closed with 154 players, 60 shy of 2002’s number. With 16 tables set up for usage, Behrman contends that one extra afternoon session, and one extra evening session on Friday and Saturday will keep the tournament on track for a Sunday night finale.

Behrman, whose 2001 tournament suffered mightily from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S., also insisted that there will be no prize fund adjustments in 2003.

“We’re still addding $52,000,” said Behrman. “First place will still be $30,000, and everyone will be paid off at the conclusion of the tournament. Guaranteed.”

Meanwhile, Behrman, who was convicted in 2002 of a pair of felonies stemming from illegal gambling parties at his Chesapeake home, and reportedly has twice tested positive for illegal drugs while on probation, was philosophical about his attendance at the Open.

“I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity to be here at the tournament,” said Behrman, who could still be sentenced to as much as six years in jail at this Oct. 10 hearing. “The thought of being in jail during this week was heartbreaking. I will never chance it again. After being in jail the past 58 days, believe me, I do not want to spend another two years behind bars.

“This is the most inspirational week of my life.”

Behrman Free To Oversee U.S. Open

IT’S UNLIKELY that the Chesapeake Convention Center, site of the upcoming U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship, will ever look better to pool promoter Barry Behrman than it will look when the 28th running of American pool’s premier tournament kicks off next Monday, Sept. 15th.

Behrman, who has spent the past 58 days in a Chesapeake, Va., jail for a probation violation, received a two-week release today at a bond hearing before Circuit Court Judge Bruce H. Kushner. Judge Kushner released Behrman to allow the 57-year-old owner of Q-Master Billiards to run his annual tournament. Judge Kushner also mandated that Behrman return to prison by 6 p.m. on Sept. 22, the day after the U.S. Open is completed, where he will remain until his Oct. 10 trial date. Behrman, who was released on a $3,000 surety bond, will still have to report to his probation officer daily.

Behrman was convicted in 2002 of a pair of felonies stemming from illegal gambling parties at his Chesapeake home. He was jailed in July following his second probation violation, and could face as much as a six-year prison senctence. With his trial continued from its original Sept. 8 date to Oct. 10, Behrman’s attornies sought a bond hearing in an effort to gain his release in time for the Open.