Davis Comes Back Big TimeSeminole Florida Pro Tour / Holiday, FL
by Rick Davis
While his play is often hot or cold, either seizing the event or falling short early, Mike Davis continued a record year for himself as he came back from a first-round loss to take the October 5-7 billiards stop of the Seminole Florida Pro Tour. The only 10-ball tour in existence, it always draws in top players from around the world, including WPA and WPBA pros, as well as a smattering of local and regional greats. This event, the sixth of the season, took in 60 players who battled it out through the strict rules and double-elimination format at Hammer Heads Billiard Lounge in Holiday, Florida.
Getting things started the players faced races to 7 through the first two days, and with pros everywhere, a stacked field and tough matches were seen anywhere you looked. Tournament director John DiToro continued to play his best in years as he started by defeating Davis 7-5 then dropped the axe on Richard Broumpton 7-2 and local Southern player Javier Chirino double-hill. Corey Deuel poked his head through, dropping Tommy Kennedy 7-3 and then Dave Broxson 7-4 before taking the long walk to the one-loss side. Ending the day’s highlights, Donnie Mills defeated Robb Saez 7-4, and Tony Crosby sent Thorsten Hohmann west after a 7-5 finish.
The third and final day of the action bumped the races to 8 with a single race to 9 slated for the finals. On the winners’ side everyone was scratching for the top, although it was DiToro who stunned the crowd and reached the summit. DiToro defeated Adam Wheeler 8-3 and Crosby 8-4 to reach the hot seat match, while a huge upset unfolded when long-time tour regular Neil Fujiwara slipped past multiple-event winner Steve Moore double-hill. Fujiwara soon found himself on the wrong end of a 8-4 thumping after facing Rafael Martinez, and then to finish the chart strong, DiToro squeaked past Martinez 8-7 to earn a rest in the hot seat.
On the one-los s side the longest survivor was Davis, who took four matches to reach the final day, eliminating a trio of players by not giving up more than 5 racks total. He then sent Hohmann home after a double-hill finish to end the day. Davis continued his terror in day three by knocking out Gabe Owen 8-7, Moore 8-6, and Saez 8-5 to reach the final six. In the remaining piece of the chart, Louis Ulrich was king as he eliminated Deuel 8-5 and Paul Song 8-6 also to see top-six action.
The final handful of matches blazed by as Ulrich sent Fujiwara home after an 8-5 match and Davis managed one rack better, defeating Crosby 8-4. Now raising the eyebrows of the crowd, Davis was in high gear and drilled Fujiwara 8-1 in the quarterfinals and Martinez 8-4 in the semifinals. Both Martinez, who has numerous top finishes on tour, and Fujiwara, who ended with his best finish in quite some time, played a great event and made Davis work for all he took.
With a single match waiting for either DiToro or Davis to claim, both players had their high and low points. Davis was calling upon any remaining energy after a long weekend, and DiToro was not used to late-night playoffs, having only being active on this single tour. Once the starting pistol shot Davis quickly took over, and before DiToro could answer back, Davis had taken the match 9-2 and capped off an amazing comeback, defying the odds and showing his skill and heart for the game.