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.

Manalo Hits His Stride in Reno

Filipino player Marlon Manalo went undefeated to win the Sands Regency Reno Open, June 3-12, in Reno, Nev. The win comes on the heels of his unexpected tie-for-fifth finish at the BCA Open 9-Ball Championships in May.

Manalo beat countryman Santos Sambajon Jr., 9-8, and advanced to vie for the hotseat against Shawn Putname, winning 9-7. On the one-loss side, Tony Chohan beat Putnam, 9-8, to advance to the final.

In the final, Chohan took a 6-2 lead, but then let victory slip through his fingers. Manalo won, 9-6, and collected $12,000 for top prize. Chohan earned $5,400 for second place.

It’s No Fluke — Putnam Keeps Winning

Surprising Shawn Putnam in now 2-for-2 in major pro events this year after powering past Fabio Petroni, 10-6, in the finals of the Brunswick Pro Players Championship, held March 17-20 in Valley Forge, Pa.

After scratching on his first break shot, Putnam fell into a 4-2 hole against Italy’s Petroni. But the vastly improved shooter from Youngstown, Ohio, went on a 6-1 run to take control of the match, 8-5. Putnam received almost no open shots after his thunderous breaks, but he created spectacular run-outs with an array of ballsy jump shots, combos and pinpoint-accurate kicks. Any hope Petroni had for a comeback ended in the 16th rack, when he broke dry for the fourth time in the match.

Early in the year, 33-year-old Putnam reengineered his game by trying more reliable run-out patterns, using center-ball hits instead of extreme English, and staying calm while shooting. He then won the North American Open Tour event in February in Pittsburgh — his first major pro victory — and followed up with his decisive Pro Players win.

“The whole thing is about keeping your heart rate constant — the same heart rate when you’re playing as when you’re sitting down, so you don’t have to get adrenaline going as you’re playing and then sit down and cool down,” Putnam said of his newfound Zen strategy.

With his $10,000 in winnings, Putnam planned to buy a 1996 Cadillac Seville he had test-driven recently. “Now it’s really getting bought; I don’t care what he wants for it,” he said.