Western Women’s Amateur Open UnderwayBy InsidePool StaffThe first annual Western Women’s Amateur Open is currently underway in Payson, AZ, 80 miles north of Phoenix. Held at the luxurious Mazatzal Hotel Casino, this event has drawn some superstar amateur ladies from all over the country. The top 32 players of any professional tour were not eligible to participate.We can guarantee that this event will not be a one-hit wonder as the gracious Mazatzal Casino has committed to three years of adding $3,500 and providing a home for this tournament. Other supporters include Diamond Billiard Products, Predator Products, Dale Teague Custom Cues, and Inside English. “I have always wanted to see more independent events for women with decent added money,” said tournament promoter Holly Ryan.Eight 7-foot Diamond Smart Tables were brought in. Thursday night kicked off with a players’ meeting and mini tournaments. The main event format is 10-ball, race to 9. The 21 ladies will be vying for a total purse of $5,175. “The field was smaller than we anticipated,” said Ryan, but they do have big plans for expanding the event for the upcoming years. The ladies didn’t seem to mind. Fewer players meant a later start time.Some familiar faces include local AZ Women’s Tour top guns Susan Williams and Susan Mello, current VNEA 8- and 9-ball champion Bonnie Plowman from Colorado, OB Cues Tour champion Heather Lloyd from Texas, Grace Nakamura all the way from Canada, and top finisher on the Ladies Spirit Tour, Emily Wilmoth from Florida.Dale Teague and Predator have both donated cues for a raffle in which proceeds will go towards the Payson Habitat for Humanity. A portion of the proceeds from Thursday night’s minis also went towards this cause. Despite the unusual storm, muggy weather, and fire and accident on the main highway, this event hopes to be one that women amateurs can mark their calendars for in the next two years.Visit InsidePOOL for the latest news in the sport of billiards and pool.