Alcano Erupts, Schmidt Stymied in Third-Round U.S. Open Play
Other favorites tested, few fail
by Paul Berg, InsidePOOL Magazine Staff
From one reigning champion to another, there was a world of difference on this Wednesday night at the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships. Current world champ Ronato Alcano allowed Chris Bartram fewer opportunities than could be counted on his bridge hand in a devastating 11-0 performance. Alcano’s fellow Filipino and childhood idol Efren Reyes was more tactically dominant in an 11-3 defeat of Italy’s Alessandro Torrenti that moves the two Pinoy greats forward to an epic fourth-round match with each other.
“He may not have run six or seven at once,” Columbus, OH, roadman Bartram said afterwards, unsure as many in the gallery were of precisely what happened during Alcano’s blitz of run-outs throughout the match. “But I think he ran eight of the eleven out from the break on me. And the chance I did get was the only time he tied up balls on the break,” Bartram concluded. Other greats from the Philippines moved forward with alacrity. Jose Parica will face Francisco Bustamante, the “Leader of the Invasion” crushing Derek “Chewing Tobacco” Leonard 11-3 while “Django” struggled with three-time junior national runner-up Joey Gray. The young player from Oklahoma led Bustamante 6-4 but was only able to take one game from there in an 11-7 loss that was a testament to the strength Gray’s home state had shown earlier.
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For 2006 Open winner John Schmidt, another march through the one-loss side will be his only option for a title defense after taking a debilitating 11-1 beating by Tulsa’s backroom legend James Walden. With a man that books winners against bad odds knack for getting out in the clutch, and a one-pocket specialist’s grasp of defense, Walden crippled Schmidt early, and the champ hasn’t been in the same stroke that ran him 403 balls in straight pool at Q-Master Billiards last Saturday.
The Open victor from two years ago has also entered the B-side of the chart, as Atlanta-based Louis Ulrich toppled Alex Pagulayan 11-7, making very few unforced errors in a well-played match. Next for Ulrich will be Ernesto Dominguez, winner of an excellent 11-10 set with Steve Moore that was cagily played. Moore reached the hill behind Dominguez only to break empty and watch as the Californian veteran handled the clearance with care.
While other winners’ in their quarter of the bracket include past Open champ Tommy Kennedy and an in-stroke Tony Robles, the favorites in the second chart during the early round had a far tougher time moving forward. 1999 Open champion Johnny Archer unceremoniously dropped his first game of the tournament immediately after the lag facing Michael Stansbury, and struggled up until a 5-5 tie. Archer only allowed one more game from there and advanced to face young all-around threat Tony Chohan.
Dennis Orcollo trailed David Hunt 6-3, and while the feared Filipino dropped in to dead punch from there, a couple of rattled balls on the demanding Diamond tables stretched the set to a dicey 11-9 result. Larry Nevel and Shawn Putnam played a very competitive match up to 7-all, where Nevel stepped on the gas with four straight wins to advance to a match with Ralf Souquet. Germany’s “Surgeon” is the only European ever to win an Open and looked the best of the favorites in his quarter, turning a 4-3 lead into an 11-5 victory over Maryland’s young shooter Brandon Shuff.
In the later round, while all his elders from the Filipino contingent were having fun, Lee Van Corteza was in a sudden dogfight with Niels Feijen. The Turning Stone Casino champion led by margins of 6-1 and 8-4, but Holland’s hope has turned in high finishes many recent years and managed to handle the pressure well. Feijen got within 9-8 before Corteza claimed the next two racks and a shot at Warren Kiamco, who himself escaped fine Seattle player Dan Louie 11-9. The two joined four other Filipinos remaining in their quarter, as well as Calgary’s Tyler Edey by way of an 11-5 win over Miami-based Robb Saez and frequent Open threat Thorsten Hohman, who handled Lee Holt 11-7.
The fourth quarter of the chart still has Corey Deuel, Shannon Daulton, Mike Davis, and John Morra after some tense matches. Deuel and Morra both needed the distance in 11-10 come-from-behind wins against John Fulcher and Toomo Takano, respectively. Daulton finished an 11-9 victory in a tough match with neighbor Nick Varner and will play Deuel next, while Davis took his first lead against Markus Juva at 8-7 and closed 11-8 from there.
Next for Maryland’s favorite Mike is Rodney Morris, who seems energized by his amazing comeback victory in the second round. Morris drilled Jeff Abernathy 11-2, and others were free from drama in a similar fashion. Ronnie Wiseman will play Morra after waltzing through an 11-5 victory over Chi Wai Au. Shane Van Boening found the going rough but was able to parlay his small leads into an 11-8 win over Sparky Ferrell. Marcus Chamat stands in his way, winner over Edwin Montal by the same score. Stay tuned to InisdePOOLmag.com for the latest from Chesapeake, where U.S. Open action is heating up along with the weather down at the beach.