Oct. 22, 2016
Shane Van Boening has defeated Jung Lin Chang to claim the 41st U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships.
Our final day began with two matches. On the one-loss side Shane Van Boening took on Dennis Orcullo. This one stayed close at first as our two combatants were tied at 1, then 2, then 3 and finally at 4 games apiece. But then Shane went on a roll and surged to a two-game lead at 6-4. He would never trail again. By the time Orcullo scored another rack the score was 10-5 and Shane won the next rack to win 11-5 and send Orcullo home in fourth place.
Our winner’s side match found Jayson Shaw taking on Jung Lin Chang. Shaw did not seem his usual self in the early going. Instead of the bouncy and positive Shaw we had seen all week he seemed gloomy at the table and both his shot-making and position play were not nearly as sharp as we had seen on previous days. By the time he got in gear he trailed Chang 8-2. Chang got to the hill at 10-4 before Shaw began his run and began to look more like himself. Shaw took rack after rack and denied Chang opportunities until he had tied the score on the hill at 10-10. But in the final rack he missed a very tough opening shot on the three ball and Chang took full advantage and ran the rack out to claim the win.
Still with only one loss for the week Shaw next took on Shane Van Boening. Shaw jumped out to a 6-0 lead before Van Boening got out of the gate to take us to 6-1. Then Van Boening began stringing racks. 6-1 became 6-2, then 6-3, then 6-4, then 6-5. Shane was two balls away from leveling the score at 6 when he miscued on the 7 ball. Shaw finished that rack out to make the score 7-5. Shaw was running out the next rack when he overcooked his position on the 9 ball and scratched. SVB now trailed 7-6 with the break.
In the next rack Van Boening missed a long shot down the rail on the three ball. Shaw again took advantage and took us to 8-6. He won the next as well and then made the nine on the snap but also scratched. Van Boening had ball in hand. Shane took it all the way home to narrow the score to 9-7. He then broke and ran the next rack to get to 9-8. He dd the same in the next rack and we were tied at nine games apiece.
Now we had a race to two games to determine which of these men would go on to play in the finals and which would go home with third-place honors. Once again Shaw had to just sit in his chair and watch Van Boening break and run to get the hill first at 10-9.
Shane came to the table determined to make a good break shot. He did. The nine was kicked into the corner and it was over with Van Boening winning 11-9.
That set up our final match between Shane Van Boening and Jung Lin Chang. Both men had been shooting impeccable pool through the week but Van Boening was the crowd favorite as they wished to see hm tie the record held by Earl Strickland of winning five U.S. Open titles. The final would be a race to thirteen games with the requirement that you must win by two at that point. If not, the race is extended to a race to fifteen so 14-14 becomes hill-hill.
The opening lag was so close it took a few minutes for our Head Referee and Master of Ceremonies Ken Shuman to determine that Jung Lin Chang had won the lag. Our shooting war had already begun. Chang broke the first rack and his playing speed had noticeably slowed. But his shooting had not dulled a bit. He broke and ran the first rack. The next rack he broke dry. Shane missed a shot on the two ball in the side pocket and brought Chang back to the table. Chang ran out the rack for a 2-0 lead. Chang broke dry but left Shane only a safety opportunity. Van Boening left the balls nine feet apart with only a terribly thin cut shot available for aggression. Chang took it on and made it. The man was sending a statement. He finished it by running out to a 3-0 lead.
Shane got to the table early in the next rack and took it home to draw his first bead. Then he broke and ran to draw within one game. Ditto for the next rack and we were tied at 3. Shane took his first lead when he ran out the next rack as well to go up 4-3. In the next rack Van Boening played a safety on the one ball that left Chang kicking. That left Van Boening a shot on the one and you just shouldn’t leave Van Boening a shot on the one. He cleared the rack with ease to lead 5-3.
Van Boening broke dry but left a shot. Chang ran down to the nine but left himself almost on top of it with nothing but a razor cut into the corner. He made it take us to 5-4. But Shane got the table after a scratch in the next rack to go up 6-4. Then another break and run for 7-4. After a brief safety battle in the next rack Chang got the first shot and finished early with a 4-9 combination. Score: 7-5. An illegal break brought Shane to the table. He ran out to 8-5.
A difficult layout gave innings to both players in the next game but Chang made an amazing jump shot on the three ball and ran out from there. 8-6. When Shane took the next rack to lead 9-6 the crowd began to feel that he had rounded the turn and was heading for home. That feeling as fortified when he broke and ran the next one to lead 10-6 and stand only three wins away from victory.
On the next break Van Boning scratched in the side pocket. Chang cashed that to narrow the score by one to 10-7. Then he broke and ran the next rack and took the next game as well to bring us to 10-9. The handsome four-game lead Van Boening had owned only minutes earlier had virtually vanished. But Chang had an illegal break and Van Boening once again rose from his chair. He took that game. 11-9. The next rack also went his way and Van Boening stood on the hill. Chang got to the table in the next rack but soon Van Boening was back in control and he took the rack home to win his fifth U.S. Open title. That means he has won half of the U.S. Opens in which he has participated.