Strickland Stomps the Jacoby Field
Jacoby Custom Cues Carolina Tour / Raleigh, NC
by Lea Andrews
After a couple of disappointing showings on the Jacoby Custom Cues Carolina Tour earlier this season, Earl Strickland is back in top form. “The Pearl” showed off his stuff by plowing undefeated through a strong field of 15 at the $1,000-added June 26-27 stop, which was held at Brown’s Billiards in Raleigh, NC.
To reach the hot seat match, Strickland first had to get past BJ Ussery, who was looking for his fourth Jacoby win in a row — fifth total this season — but Strickland managed to mark up the last game in their hill-hill match to meet up with Keith Bennett, who’d just sent Delton Howard west 7-4. No strangers, the hot seat match, the finals, or each other, Bennett and Strickland both fought hard to become the last man standing on the winners’ side, but it was Strickland who earned it 7-5.
On the one-loss side, Sam Monday, who was there thanks to a second-round 7-4 loss to Howard, swept past WPBA pro Belinda Calhoun 7-2 and Brian Simpson 7-2 to meet up with Ussery. Meanwhile, Tony Morrison notched his own 7-2 victory over Jeff Pruitt and a strong 7-1 win over Chris Vollmar to face Howard, but a 7-4 loss planted him in fifth. Howard moved on to the quarterfinals against Monday, who’d ended Ussery’s hopes of four in a row 7-2, but Howard’s second go at Monday didn’t end as well for him as the first — Monday exacted his revenge 7-4 to advance to the semifinals against Bennett. Bennett was ready to get back to Strickland, though, and he blew past Monday 7-1 to get there.
But Strickland was ready for him, and the first six games of the single race-to-11 final match were over in 18 minutes — Strickland was up 6-0. His scratch on the break in the next rack, though, gave control to Bennett, who ran to a 4-9 combination to mark up his first game, and he marked up his second after Strickland hung the 2 ball. Strickland took the next two to make it 8-2, and though Bennett rebounded a bit to get it to 8-5 and 9-7, that was as close as he got. Strickland took the last two racks to close out his first win this season 11-7.Other victors this weekend include Solomon Pope, winner of Friday’s early bird event; Dylan Wetchworth, who topped the juniors’ division; Belinda Calhoun, who topped the ladies’; and Michael Yingling, winner of the second chance event. Mike Bogey took home a brand new Jacoby cue after his ticket was drawn in the raffle, and John Trinh took home $85 for his performance in the break contest. The break and run pot went unclaimed at this event, and it will roll over at $91 at the next event, which will be held July 23-24 at Breaktime Billiards in Wilmington, NC.
1st Earl Strickland $1,000
2nd Keith Bennett $475
3rd Sam Monday $200
4th Delton Howard $75