McKenny comes back from semifinals to down Buckley and claim Florida State 10-Ball title
Skip Maloney - AzB Staff
Jan. 10, 2017
Tony Crosby, Daniel McKinney, Benji Buckey and room owner Mike Zingale
Tony Crosby, Daniel McKinney, Benji Buckey and room owner Mike Zingale
With competitors like Mosconi Cup team member Sky Woodward, former US Open Champion Tommy Kennedy, Robb Saez and Shane McMinn (among others) on the entrant list, one might have been forgiven for expecting a series of marquee matchups in the final hours of the Florida State 10-Ball Open, held on the weekend of January 7-8. Instead, in what must surely have been a surprise to Calcutta participants, you had Daniel McKenny and Benji Buckley battling twice - hot seat and finals - with Buckley, who was the 2016 champion, taking the first and McKenny claiming the title by winning the last. The $4,000-added event drew 77 entrants to Zingale's Billiards and Sports Bar in Tallahassee, FL.
 
With the aforementioned marquee players at work on the loss side (none of whom would make it out of the 7/8 slots), McKenny and Buckley advanced to the winners' side semifinals; McKenny taking on Butch Croft, Buckley meeting Stoney Stone. McKenny moved into the hot seat match with a 7-1 victory over Croft, while Buckley downed Stone 7-4. For the second year in a row, Buckley claimed the hot seat, this time 7-2 and waited for McKenny to get back from the semifinals.
 
On the loss side, the 'marquee four' found themselves battling in the second (9/12) money round. Saez eliminated Woodward 7-5, McMinn took care of Clint Nichols 7-1, and Denny Singletary finished Tommy Kennedy's weekend 7-5. Manny Perez knocked tour director Tony Crosby out of the running 7-4. McMinn and Saez were eliminated next; McMinn by Singletary, double hill, and Saez by Perez 7-3.
 
Singletary drew Stone, coming off his defeat in the winners' side semifinal, and Perez picked up Croft, coming off his. Singletary and Croft got right back into the swing of things and advanced to the quarterfinals; Singletary 7-3 over Stone, Croft surviving a double hill fight against Perez.
 
The quarterfinals were, at minimum, a $300 contest (the payout difference between 3rd and 4th place) and went double hill. Croft denied Stone a second shot against Buckley with the double hill win that gave him a shot. The semifinals were a $500 minimum battle (the difference between 2nd and 3rd place) and it almost went double hill. At the end, though, McKenny edged ahead by two 7-5 to get his second shot (an absolute $1,000 contest) against the reigning event champion, Buckley.
 
McKenny pulled it off. For the second match in a row, he was able to get ahead by two at the end to win it (9-7) and snatch the Florida State 10-Ball title away from Buckley.
 
A $1,000-added Second Chance event, which drew 50 entrants, saw Jamie Baraks go undefeated to claim the title. Baraks and Matt Bulfin, after shutting out their opponents (Jessie Middlebrooks and George Saunders, respectively) in the two winners' side semifinals, squared off in the hot seat match, won by Baraks 4-1. Bulfin downed Rod Rentz, double hill, in the semifinals, before Baraks defeated him a second time 5-3 in the finals. 
 
Tour director Tony Crosby thanked Mike Zingale and his staff for their hospitality and contribution to the prize money.  Crosby also noted that anyone interested in sponsoring the Florida Pool Tour should visit the tour Web site (http://www.floridapooltour.com) for contact information.