Team USA Needs Two For Mosconi Cup Glory
2009 PartyPoker.net Mosconi Cup / Las Vegas, NV
by Sally P. Timko
The third day of the 2009 PartyPoker.net Mosconi Cup, which is being hosted by the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV, saw Team USA moved closer to the goal of 11 matches, while Team Europe began to dig themselves out of the hole they have been in for the past two days. But they still have a long way to go to capture the Cup.
The first match saw Team Europe pair former world 9-ball champion Thorsten Hohmann and Niels “The Terminator” Feijen, and they faced off against veteran Corey Deuel and newbie Dennis “The Hatchetman” Hatch. In the first rack Deuel missed a routine 7 ball, and Europe took that game. A break and run-out by Team USA evened the score, but Europe regained the lead after winning the next. A missed 2 ball by Deuel in the following game put Team Europe up 3-1 in the race to 6, and then a superb table-length bank shot on the 4 ball by Feijen gave them another bead. A safety exchange in the following rack saw Deuel foul on the 7 ball, and Europe, with ball in hand, easily reached the hill 5-1. In the last rack, Hohmann made four balls on the break, but Europe was forced to play safe on the 6 ball. Hatch kicked at it and hung it in the pocket, and Europe dished up for the first win of the day, putting Europe back in contention for the Cup.
“We’re not going down without a fight,” warned Hohmann in his post-match interview. “Maybe on paper we were the favorites, but we knew that the American team was going to be very strong this year.”
Play was kicked up a notch in the next when Oscar Dominguez and Shane Van Boening went up against Mosconi Cup veterans Ralf Souquet and Mika Immonen. Three consecutive break and runs saw the U.S. take a 2-1 lead, but Europe took the next after a couple of rolls went against the U.S. Kicking out of a safety, Van Boening fouled, and Europe collected the fifth rack to take the lead for the first time in the match 3-2. Another unforced error by Van Boening, this time on the 4 ball, saw Europe inch closer to the goal. “The Big O” broke in the next rack, and without a good shot on the 1 ball, Van Boening was forced to kick at it and left it next to the side pocket. In a stunning shot, “The Surgeon” avoided the scratch and used the point of the side pocket to get position on the next ball while pocketing the 1 in the corner. Europe cleaned up the rest of that rack to reach the hill.
Souquet’s subsequent break dropped the 7 ball and left the other balls wide open, and it looked as though the match would go to Europe then. However, Immonen left Souquet in poor position for the 5 and, oddly, Souquet chose to attempt a bank safety that left an open shot for the U.S. Van Boening and Dominguez made quick work of that rack to make it 5-3 Europe. A sweet jump shot by Dominguez on the 3 ball didn’t leave much for Van Boening, who tried to play safe on the 4 but left an open shot. Souquet cleanly pocketed the 4 and it again looked like a lock for Europe until Immonen rattled the 7 ball, astonishing the crowd. It was a bit dicey for the U.S. to get from the 7 to the 8, and Van Boening was left with a short bank, which he made effortlessly, and the U.S. won another rack to make it 5-4. Immonen redeemed himself with his next break by pocketing four balls, and Europe finally cinched the win by running out 6-4, making the overall score 7-4 in the race to 11 for the Cup.
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Feijen and Hatch had a singles rematch in the third match, which turned out to be a scrapper. Hatch won the lag and took an early lead, but Feijen took the next two to put Team Europe up 2-1. In the next game, to everybody’s surprise, Hatch was attempting to come around the table for position on the 6 and scratched, and Feijen took that rack as well. The Dutchman fouled after a safety on the 5 ball by Hatch and handed over ball in hand, which Hatch utilized for a combo on the 9 to make it 3-2 Europe. A break and run-out by each followed, and when Feijen scratched on his next break, Hatch knotted the score at 4 apiece. Team USA regained the lead when Feijen was torn between playing safe or attempting a bank shot on the 4 ball and chose the latter, leaving an open table for Hatch to reach the hill. It was do or die in the next rack as it was Feijen’s break, but though he made three balls on the break, he badly missed the 5 ball, and Hatch cleared the table to win the first match of the day for Team USA 6-4, with the overall score now at 8-4.
“I never gave up. It didn’t look good, but I never gave up,” Hatch stated after the match. Regarding the missed 5 ball that gave him the match, Hatch said of Feijen, “His arm was shaking, so I thought he might dog it.
“This is the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to me,” Hatch added. “Win or lose, this is the best experience of my life.”
In the last doubles match of the event, it was Deuel paired with recent BCA Hall of Fame inductee Johnny Archer versus Hohmann and Darren Appleton. The U.S. broke and ran the first rack, but Appleton converted a safety on the 8 ball to a win for Europe with a beautiful long-rail bank. But the U.S. quickly took the next two with a break and run and then an empty break by Appleton. Deuel missed an easy 8 ball in the following rack, and Europe put another game under their belt, making it 3-2 U.S. The teams split the next two, and then Europe tied it at 4 when Appleton scored a 4-9 combo after an Archer foul. A break and run-out put Team USA on the hill, and it became a hill-hill bout after Europe took the next. A safety exchange over the 1 ball in the final rack saw USA prevail, and they moved one match closer to the Cup, with the overall score at 9-4 USA.
Dominguez and Immonen went up against each other in the final match of the day, with the USA making a move to attain the hill, while Europe was hoping to stave off disaster. A miss by Immonen on the 4 ball was followed by a missed 8 by Dominguez, but Immonen opted to try the bank shot on the 8 ball and left it for Dominguez to take the first rack. An illegal break by “The Big O” gave Immonen a free shot, and he took it, clearing the table to tie the score at 1 apiece. A messy third rack saw the players exchange multiple innings, ending when Immonen rattled the 4 ball and Dominguez got out. An empty break by Dominguez gave control to Immonen, who cleared the table to even the score at 2-all. On his way to a break and run-out in the next, Immonen hit too hard for position on the 7 ball and ended up on top of it, so he played safe, which Dominguez returned. In kicking at the 7 ball, Immonen scratched, and the Europeans groaned. Dominguez took that rack for the 3-2 lead, but he sent the cue ball flying off the table on his next break, and Immonen cleared the table.
Things started looking up for Europe when Dominguez scratched while addressing a safety on the 3 ball by Immonen, giving another rack to the Finn and putting Team Europe in the lead for the first time in the match. It looked as though the U.S. was going to tie things up again after Immonen missed a hanging 2 ball, but Dominguez demonstrated iffy position throughout and ended up missing the 8 ball in the side, handing Immonen a gift rack to reach the hill. Dominguez narrowed the gap in the next when Immonen attempted to play safe and left a shot on the 2 ball, and Dominguez ran out, but Immonen closed the deal in the following rack when Dominguez came up empty on the break and the Finn dished up to win 6-4.
“Just closing the gap, putting a little more pressure on them,” Immonen stated in a brief interview.
While Team USA goes into Sunday’s matches only needing two wins, Team Europe will need to make every match count in order to reach the goal of 11 from where they stand now at 5.
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