Strickland Salvages World Pool Championship Hopes

Strickland Salvages World Pool Championship Hopes
Earl Strickland put on a dazzling display of pocket billiards as he won nine racks back-to-back to salvage his 2007 World Pool Championship hopes at the expense of China’s Li He-wen. Strickland had earlier rolled over against Malaysia’s Alan Tan, 9-2, in his opening game but followed that up with a lackluster 9-6 win over Germany’s Kay Reike.
With the two wins to qualify and two defeats to leave the competition, Strickland, a three time winner of this event, faced Li He-wen, the studious looking Chinese who won a bronze medal at last year’s tournament.
At 5-0 down in the race to nine match, ‘the Pearl’ looked dead and buried as he battled with his demons on the main TV table.
He hit a gear though and returned to the imperious form that has seen him win countless titles in an illustrious career. Strickland ran five racks from the break as he controlled the table and restricted Li to occasional safety escapes.
The win saw Strickland secure a last 64 berth where he will face impressive Vietnamese shooter Luong Chi Dung of Vietnam.
Other big names through on day three of the first round include Ralf Souquet who survived a scare as he lost his opener to local veteran Leonardo Andam before scoring wins over Bernard Tey Choon Kiat of Singapore and Canada’s Ronnie Wiseman to make it through.
Fellow German former World Champion Thorsten Hohmann capped a disappointing season with an early exit in Manila as he lost twice to depart the competition.
He lost successive matches against sensational 18 year-old Taiwanese Ko Pin-yi and then seasoned Canadian / Filipino Edwin Montal.
There was double joy for Pinoy hopes Marlon Manalo and Jeff De Luna as they both battled their way through to the last 64 stages of the 2007 Philippines World Pool Championship with two wins from two matches.
With four more groups playing double elimination qualifying games today at the Araneta Coliseum, Quezon City, a further 16 players will secure spots in round two while the other 16 will depart the competition.
Manalo, of Mandaluyong City, Manila looked to be in total control as he led Li He-wen of China 8-3 but a missed ball in the 12th game let Li, a semi-finalist here last year, back to the table.
Li, who earlier this year was a World Cup of Pool winner, proceeded to run out the racks as he slowly silenced the pro-Manalo crowd. With the score at 7-8, Li ran slightly out of position and attempted a risky pot on the 3 ball as he was forced to hit down on the cue ball to swerve it.
He missed and left it sitting nicely for Manalo, who cleared the table to secure victory. Li eventually went out at the hands of Earl Strickland.
On Table 2, Jeff ‘Bata’ De Luna, who reached the last 16 of this competition in 2006 on his WPC debut, looked like he has the game to go even better this year as he gave Fu Che-wei of Chinese Taipei, something of a drubbing.
Fu, who was a bronze medalist at this tournament last year, found himself 8-0 down in no time at all, and although he mounted a comeback, the gulf was too wide to bridge as he lost 9-3.
De Luna can now look forward a mouth-watering last 64 match-up with fellow Filipino star Lee Van Corteza.
There were two tremendous performances from the Australian duo of Louis Condo and James Delahunty as both advanced with a brace of victories against high class opposition.
Condo, the 32 year-old from Melbourne, is playing in his sixth World Championship so he has plenty of experience at this level and he drew on it as he defeated highly rated Englishman Imran Majid 9-5 to advance to the winners’ side of the bracket.
In his next match he went even better as he recorded a comfortable 9-4 victory over 2005 World Pool Championship runner-up Kuo Po-cheng of Chinese Tapei.
Countryman James Delahunty, making his debut in the competition, looked good in beating 2006 Mosconi Cup player Mike Davis of the USA 9-5 and then defeated seasoned pro Ronnie Wiseman of Canada in a 9-8 thriller.
24 year-old Delahunty from Adelaide can now look forward to a day off before he resumes the competition in the last 64 straight knock-out.

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