Bennett Turns the Page on Another Jacoby Win
Jacoby Carolina Tour / Rocky Mount, NC
by Lea Andrews
On May 16-17, Sharks-n-Shooters in Rocky Mount, NC, hosted the guaranteed $1,000-added ninth stop of the Jacoby Carolina Tour, and the field of 40 was a solid spectrum of players, from juniors Jackson “Smoky” Jeffreys and Patrick Pipkin to local bigwigs Sam Monday, Mike Fuller, and B.J. Ussery and even seasoned pro Earl Strickland. Out of many came one Keith Bennett, who played an undefeated weekend to earn his third win on the tour this season.
Bennett began his path to the finals with 7-1 wins over Stephen Skuarka and Willie Simpson and made it to the final four with a 7-3 win over Mike Fuller. Joining Bennett in the final four of the winners’ side on Sunday were Eddie Little, Steven Page, and unsurprisingly, Earl Strickland. Strickland and Bennett sent Page and Little to the one-loss side with matching 7-5 scores, and it was time for the match for the hot seat.
Strickland, with both earplugs and oversized headphones blocking out the sound of a few chattering railbirds in an otherwise spellbound crowd, jumped to an early 3-0 lead, but Bennett took advantage of a few unlikely opportunities to tie it up at 3. After trading games for a few racks, Strickland was up 5-4 and a break-and-run in rack ten put him on the hill. A dry break in rack eleven, though, cost Strickland the match as Bennett ran out the rack and broke and ran the next to earn his spot in the finals.
Waiting for his second chance at Strickland was Page, who’d followed up his earlier loss to Strickland with a strong 7-5 win over Monday. Page started the match by getting up 3-1, but Strickland tied it at 4 and at 5. Page reached the hill first, and when Strickland got to the table in the final rack, it looked like he’d make it hill-hill even after getting out of line on the 8. The speedy 9 ball barely missed the pocket, though, and before he could even see where it would end up, he conceded the match by spearing it straight into a pocket with his tennis-racket-grip cue. Page moved on to the finals with a score of 7-5.
In the race-to-9 final set, Bennett took an early 3-0 lead and increased it to 7-2. Page managed to come back on a few games, but it wasn’t enough to keep Bennett from the win, and Bennett closed out the match with a strong 9-5 victory.
In addition to the main event were the ladies’ and junior divisions and the second-chance tournament Sunday. Karen Webb had a solid 9-2 win over Lea Andrews in the finals of the ladies’ event, while Jackson Jeffreys bested Patrick Pipkin 9-5 in the finals of the junior division. As the high finishers of the division, Jeffreys and Pipkin both earned spots into the Junior Nationals. In the finals of the second-chance tournament, Bill Duggan won 7-2 over Mac Harrell.
1st Keith Bennett $1,000
2nd Steven Page $500
3rd Earl Strickland $350
4th Eddie Little $250
5th Sam Monday $175
7th B.J. Ussery $125
9th Mike Fuller $75