Jacoby Carolina Tour / Burlington, NC
by Lea Andrews
Earl Strickland was the man to beat at the Jacoby Carolina Tour the weekend of June 13-14, but nobody was up to the daunting task. Strickland made an undefeated run through the field of 20 in the $1,000-added event, which was hosted by Family Billiards in Burlington, NC.
Strickland finished off Saturday’s play with a shut-out win over Bill Duggan, putting him in Sunday’s match for the hot seat, while Keith Bennett earned his spot with a 7-2 win over Tony Morrison. On the one-loss side, Saturday’s play concluded with two hill-hill matches: Arnold Hamlett over Cary Dunn and Scott Lewis over Steve Moore, who’d earlier fallen to Jeff Pruitt.
On Sunday, Lewis brought his A game, putting Morrison in fifth 7-4 to meet up with Duggan, who’d edged out Hamlett 7-6. With a 7-3 win over Duggan, Lewis was into the one-loss semifinal.
Meanwhile, in the match for the hot seat, Strickland was exacting his revenge on Bennett, who’d come out on top of Strickland in the match for the hot seat at the last Jacoby event. Up 3-0, Strickland scratched on the break for the third time in a row, and Bennett ran to the 7 ball and played a strong safety. Strickland, with the knowledge and perfect speed of a five-time U.S. Open champion, played a three-rail kick that clipped the 7 and sent the cue ball one rail behind the 9. That shot, giving Strickland ball in hand, made it 4-0, and though Bennett rallied, putting together a couple racks at a time, Strickland closed it out 7-5.
The semifinal match didn’t go Bennett’s way either, as Lewis marked up the first game and kept his lead through the match, putting Bennett in third with a score of 7-4.
Against Strickland in the single race-to-9 final set, Lewis came back from a 2-0 deficit to get up 4-2 and then 5-3, but Strickland couldn’t hide his true world-champion colors, winning six games straight to capture first.
Besides the main event, there were, as usual, four smaller tournaments. Cary Dunn took the early-bird event Friday night with a 7-3 win over Lay Thammavong, while Anthony Arney finished in third. On Sunday, Melissa Goss bested Rachel Eliazar 7-5 in the finals of the ladies’ event, while DJ Graves earned his spot in Junior Nationals with his win in the junior event. The finals of the second-chance tournament featured David Brown with a 7-4 win over Tony Morrison, while Cary Dunn and Chris Baker finished in third.
1st Earl Strickland $1,000
2nd Scott Lewis $500
3rd Keith Bennett $225
4th Bill Duggan $125
5th Arnold Hamlett $75