Moore Makes Back-to-Back Comebacks to Stay Alive
U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships / Chesapeake, VA
by Lea Andrews
On the penultimate day of the 34th Annual U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships, the final four on the winners’ side have come through, and on the one-loss side, Steve Moore came from behind two matches in a row to reach the final twelve. The remaining elite players are part of the original field of 216 who gathered October 18-24 at the Chesapeake Conference Center in Chesapeake, VA.
After falling to Ralf Souquet 11-4 on the winners’ side final eight, Moore faced Keith Bennett, who’d just edged out Kenichi Uchigaki 11-10. Bennett got to a 9-3 lead over Moore, who rallied to tie it up at 9, and the two traded off to make it hill-hill. In the final rack, Moore found himself sharked on the 5 ball by the red light on a spectator’s camera. “I got up and I got back down, and she did it again,” recalled Moore after the match. “I got up and I told her about it, but when I got back down, I was still thinking about it.” He missed. But he was back at the table after Bennett miscued on the 6, though he was looking at a kick. After Moore’s hit, Bennett was left with a shot, but his position was off on the 7 ball, and the cue ball found the side pocket. Moore was out, and his next match against Yukio Akagarivama was called nearly instantly.
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Once again Moore was down several games, then tied at 9 and at 10. After some safety play in the final rack, it was Akagarivama who had control, and he moved carefully through the rack. His shot on the 7 down the rail grazed the cushion, though, leaving the 7 hanging in the pocket and the crowd all gasping at once. Moore tapped it in for position on the 8 in the side, which he considered carefully before getting down on the shot. “There were so many options on the eight,” he explained afterwards. “And then I was like, ‘You know what? Just spin the ball in, three-rail it.’ It’s a pretty routine shot—I was just looking at all my options, and I hit it real well. I knew as soon as I hit it.” After getting perfect position on the 9, Moore dropped it in for the win and the right to face Imran Majid, who fell 11-7 to Lee Van Corteza on the winners’ side. About the rest of the tournament, Moore doesn’t care how the matches go—not exactly. “I don’t care if I’m behind and win or ahead and win—I just want to win. Whatever it takes.”
On the other side of the bracket, 1996 U.S. Open champion “Rocket” Rodney Morris blew by Kim Davenport 11-2 on the TV table to reach the undefeated final four. Morris, who won his first match on the TV table 11-9 against Corey Deuel despite feeling nervous about the way it played, was prepared this time around. “My touch was better than his on the table, and it’s so lightning fast that it’s all touch,” he explained. “It’s easy to lose the cue ball on safeties, but mine were coming out perfect.” Morris faces Donnie Mills, who eased past Karl Boyes 11-3, while Souquet and Corteza round out the final four.
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