Hogue 9-Ball Tournament / Louisville, KY
by Tom Fryer
Youth was served at Louisville’s bank shot Billiards January 5, as 14-year-old Landon Shuffett took the $1,000 first prize in Truman Hogue’s 9-ball event. As always, Hogue filled his 32-player field a week before the opening break shot. He also tweaked the format and raced to 6 on both sides with alternating breaks. Those changes, plus Bank Shots’ pre-pro cut Diamond pockets, figured to produce some upsets, but no one was complaining when their $50 entry gave them a shot at the $2,100 prize fund.
The upsets started immediately. Many of the supposed pre-tournament favorites were out altogether by the third round. But the quality of play among the field was stellar. In the winners’ semifinals, Kenny Tran held off Donny Sinkhorn by 6-3. Shuffett ambushed the venerable Bryan Roberts 6-2, and Kevin Nichols then eliminated Bryan, who never made a ball on the break, in a strong 6-0 win. Rob Ganote awaited Sinkhorn in a battle of southpaws, with Ganote moving on in a tightly contested 6-4.
The winners’ final matched Tran and Shuffett that saw Shuffett advance in a well-played match by a 6-4 count. Nichols then went after Ganote in the one-loss side semifinals. This entertaining match went to Nichols at double-hill as Ganote wound up in fourth place. Nichols and Tran battled back and forth until Tran got over at 6-4, leaving Nichols in a solid third place.
Repeating the winners’-bracket finals were Tran and Shuffett. Shuffett held the advantage of true double elimination, and in the finals it would be races to 9. He jumped out early at 3-1, but Tran began a surge when he two-rail-kicked in an 8 ball after hooking himself behind the 9. He broke and ran the next rack to tie and continued on to lead 6-4. But when they arrived at hill-hill, Shuffett was running out for the title when a miscue gave Tran a chance and he ran out to force the deciding set. Shuffett was forced to up his focus and played well, jumping out to a 4-1 lead and stretching it out for a 9-4 victory.
1st Landon Shuffett $1,000
2nd Kenny Tran $600
3rd Kevin Nichols $300
4th Rob Ganote $200