Bobby McGrath Wins 2007 International Speed Pool Championship
The 2007 ESPN Zone Billiards Shootout was held October 3 in Las Vegas. Bobby McGrath defeated Dave Pearson for the International Speed Pool Championship crown and the $50,000 purse. ESPN Zone Las Vegas was host to the event, which was taped for three 1-hour telecasts on ESPN.
International Speed Pool Championship drew an international lineup battling for the $50,000 winner-take-all prize. The action in Speed Pool is fast and furious (the speed of light compared to 9-ball) with two sets, twelve racks in each set, the first set Straight Pool and the second set 8-Ball. Players routinely run racks of fifteen balls in about 1-minute and the player with the lowest accumulated time for twelve racks wins the match. In the event of tied sets, the tiebreaker was one rack for each player, with the fastest time determining the winner.
McGrath and Pearson emerged from the pack as the top guns. In the Championship Match, McGrath overcame Pearson by scores of 7:08 / 7:22 minutes the first set and 9:01 / 9:17 minutes the second set to capture the title and $50,000. The difference for both sets was a mere thirty seconds, in a match with twenty-four racks and 360 balls pocketed. McGrath’s victory was all the more remarkable because he is virtually unknown in professional billiards, even though he won the 2007 VNEA Speed Pool Championship. Pearson, by contrast, is a long-time star of the sport and holds several Speed Pool records in the Guinness Book of World Records. McGrath, from the U.S.A. resides in Washington, Illinois, and Pearson is a native of England.
In semifinal action, Francisco Diaz of Spain zipped past Pearson in the first set 7:04 / 7:38, and Pearson took the second set 7:07 / 7:38. They then played a two-rack sudden death, with Pearson the winner by 55 seconds to 1:14. The other semifinal saw McGrath edge out Luc Salvas of Canada in the first set 6:31 / 6:45, and Salvas claim the second set 8:05 / 8:49. Their two-rack sudden death was a squeaker, with McGrath prevailing by only two seconds in scores of 1:07 / 1:09. McGrath’s semifinal victory was also remarkable in that Salvas was the defending Champion, having won the event in 2006. Displaying both skill and exceptional poise, McGrath beat the two best Speed Pool players in the world on the same day.
The standing-room-only crowd gave Bobby McGrath a rousing ovation at the conclusion of the final match. The winner’s check was presented by ESPN Zone and Connelly Billiards, and Lucasi Cues presented a one-of-a-kind cue to the 2007 International Speed Pool Champion. The presentation brought another round of cheers from the audience.
In addition to the fine tournament site at ESPN Zone at the New York New York Hotel Casino, the event was sponsored by Connelly Billiards, Lucasi Cues, Aramith Super Pro Balls, Simonis Cloth, The Association for P.O.O.L., L.E.A.N.I. Italian Slate, Ozone Billiards, AcCue Shot Training Device and Silver Cup Chalk. The world sanctioned event was produced by Billiards International, Ltd. in association with Allen Hopkins.