Woodward climbs Mosconi Cup ladder with undefeated run at 2nd Don Coates Memorial
Skip Maloney
Aug. 31, 2017
With three events to go (Turning Stone XXVIII, the Texas Open and the Houston Open), all within about two weeks of each other between August 31 and September 10, the scramble to be among the top 10 ranking players for selection to the USA Mosconi Cup team is heating up. On the weekend of August 24-27, Skyler Woodward chalked up an undefeated run in the 2nd Annual Don Coates Memorial that elevated him from the fourth spot to the third spot on the current list of top 10 in Mosconi Cup standings, well above Oscar Dominguez, who didn't compete and just below Dennis Hatch, who would have slipped below Woodward, had he finished in one payout spot lower (he finished in the tie for 9th). The $10,000-added,  Mosconi Cup point-qualifying event, streamed live throughout the weekend by PoolActionTV, drew 66 of the country's top players to Brass Tap Billiards in Raleigh, NC.
 
Eight of the top 10 players on the ranking list competed in this event (including the event's defending champion, Rodney Morris), and though Woodward grabbed the victory, the Mosconi Cup points and the headline, Filipino player, Zoren James Aranas, not in consideration for either Mosconi Cup team, made runner-up noise, winning five on the loss side before falling to Woodward in the finals. Aranas had been sent to the loss side in a winners' side quarterfinal by John Morra, who advanced to meet Woodward in one of the winners' side semifinals. Donny Mills, who entered the tournament 9th on the Mosconi Cup rankings list, and Billy Thorpe, who entered the tournament in 6th place, squared off in the other winners' side semifinal.
 
Woodward got into the hot seat match with a 9-3 win over Morra, and was joined by Mills, who sent Thorpe west 9-7. Woodward claimed the hot seat 9-5 over Mills and waited on the return of Aranas.
 
On the loss side, Aranas began his five-match march back to the finals by defeating Jonathan (Hennessee from Tennessee) Pinegar and Corey Deuel, both 9-5, to draw Thorpe. Morra picked up Brandon Shuff, who'd eliminated Hatch 9-6 and Johnny Archer 9-7 to reach him.
 
Shuff advanced to the quarterfinals with a 9-5 victory over Morra. He was joined by Aranas, who'd survived a double hill match that tour director Herman Parker described as "one of the best pool matches in the world, ever.
 
"There was only one miss in the entire match," he said. "It was alternate break and they just went back and forth at each other, trading racks to the 8-8 tie. In the last game, Thorpe missed that one shot - a straight-in shot on the 6-ball - and that was it. Aranas finished it."
 
Aranas won the next two in much less dramatic fashion, downing Shuff in the quarterfinals and Mills in the semifinals, both 9-3. Woodward put a stop to Aranas' run with a decisive 13-6 victory in the finals.
 
Two mini-tournaments supplemented the weekend's activities; a $500-added tournament on Wednesday, August 23, which drew 36 entrants and was won by John Morra, who took home an extra $760 dollars, and a $400-added tournament on Friday, August 25, which drew 34 entrants, and saw Devin Poteet pocket $700 for his victory in that event.
 
Tour directors, Herman and Angela Parker, who are tour directors, as well, of the area's Q City 9-Ball Tour, thanked the ownership and staff at Brass Tap Billiards, as well as sponsors Beasley Custom Cues, Cup of Jane, T-Mobile, Dayco, East Coast Construction, Dan Crocker (Nationwide), Fantasy Draft.com, Pest and Termite Consultants, Raleigh Amusements, CMA Equipment, National Building Supply, and Calvin Preston with TAP League.