Guernsey double dips Sulsar to win season and tour finale of Omega Billiard Tour
Skip Maloney
Dec. 19, 2017
(l to r): Paul Guernsey, Tony Sulsar & Mike Rountree
(l to r): Paul Guernsey, Tony Sulsar & Mike Rountree
On the weekend of December 15-16, at a $5,400-added event, which drew 75 entrants to Rusty’s Billiards in Arlington, TX, Paul Guernsey ended a three-match trip on the loss side to defeat  Tony Sulsar twice in a double elimination final, and capture the event title. In another interpretation of ‘double elimination final,’ it was not only the last event of the Omega Billiard Tour’s sixth season, it was also the final event of the Omega Billiard Tour itself.
 
Taking a cue from tour director Melinda Bailey about this occasion, we’ll defer comments on the end of the tour to the end of this report and highlight the players and the event that closed out its 2017 season.
 
For a while, at the start of Paul Guernsey’s pool career (or at least as much of it as was recorded here at AZBilliards), the only event at which he regularly earned any money was the annual Texas Open. The first time he appeared in our database, he finished second behind David Gutierrez in the 27th Annual Texas Open in 2000. It was the only entry for him that year. The following year, the only entry was his 4th place finish in the 28th Annual Texas Open. Two years later, he finished in the tie for 13th place at the 30th Annual Texas Open, and the following year, he finished 4th again. All single entries in his site profile. Just over a decade later, he started showing up on the payout lists of the Omega Billiard Tour; twice in 2015, once in 2016, and this year, four times, including another second-place finish, behind Justin Whitehead at an Omega stop in April (he competed in five of the tour’s 12 events in 2017).
 
This past weekend, Guernsey broke through and won his first major event, doing it in what most players would describe as ‘the hard way;’ coming from the loss side to challenge and twice defeat a hot seat occupant.  He played a preliminary round (one of 12 matches to gain entry into the larger winners’ side bracket), and advanced through four other matches, allowing his opponents an average of between three and four racks per match (3.6) in races to 8; against Steve Raynes (4), Bobby Diggs (2), Dario Gomez (5), Aram Hasan (6) and a measly single rack to Doug Winnett. This gave Guernsey a shot at Mike Rountree in one of the winners’ side semifinals.
 
Tony Sulsar, in the meantime, bypassed the preliminary round and faced four opponents, with whom he was stingier than Guernsey, giving up an average of between two and three racks per match (2.75) against Shan Iyer (3), Steve Sheppard (4), Chris Rickman (1) and Mike Nagaki (3). This set Sulsar up in the other winners’ side semifinal against Roman Bayda, who had just sent the tour’s #1-ranked player, Rick Stanley, to the loss side.
 
In a straight-up race to 8, Sulsar advanced to the hot seat match over Bayda 8-4. He was joined by Rountree, who’d sent Guernsey to the loss side 7-7 (Guernsey racing to 8). Sulsar claimed the hot seat 8-5 over Rountree, chalking up what would prove to be his last match win.
 
On the loss side, Guernsey picked up Stanley, who, following his loss to Bayda, had eliminated Phillip Palmer 9-5 and Mike Nagaki 9-3. Bayda drew Luis Lopez, who was working on a six-match, loss-side winning streak that had most recently included wins over Doug Winnett 7-4 and Gerardo Perez, double hill, in a straight-up race to 7.
 
Guernsey ended Stanley’s short, loss-side bid for a fifth win on this year’s tour with an 8-5 win, as Bayda ended Lopez’ loss-side streak at six with a double hill win (8-6). Guernsey and Bayda battled to double hill in the quarterfinals that followed, with Guernsey advancing for a second shot against Rountree in the semifinals.
 
Guernsey got by Rountree 8-4 in those semifinals and with, at minimum, another runner-up finish in his pocket, he turned his attention to Sulsar in the hot seat; the tour’s #8-ranked player (Sulsar) versus its #23-ranked player (Guernsey). Guernsey took the two-set opener in convincing fashion 8-3, and though Sulsar would chalk up two more racks in the second set, it wasn’t enough to keep Guernsey from capturing his first title on the tour’s last stop.
 
Regarding this last event on the tour she’s directed for the past six years, tour director Bailey thanked the ownership and staff at Rusty’s Billiards (where the tour began six years ago, and ended on this weekend), as well as sponsors Michael Hoang of OMEGA Billiards Supply, FargoRate.com and OB Cues. Regarding the past six years, she had a few more expressions of gratitude to pass along.
 
The announcement came in September. It stated that “due to increased responsibilities at (Bailey’s full-time job), and future career opportunities,” along with the need for the tour’s main sponsor, OMEGA Billiards Supply, “to make sound business and financial decisions” that, by mutual agreement, they “could no longer move forward with the Omega Billiards Tour after this year.” The statement expressed thanks “to all, for helping put the DFW (Dallas/Ft. Worth) pool scene back on the map for the past five and a half years.”
 
“We loved the players, the pool rooms, and the fans,” the statement went on to say, “and we wish you all nothing but the best in your pool journeys.”
 
Bailey added the released statement and wrote about the decision in a September entry to her blog – Pool is a Journey (http://pooljourney.blogspot.com/2017/09/tough-decisions.html).
 
“I want to sincerely thank you for always being so supportive, responsive and a great friend to (me) and the tour,” she wrote.
 
She expanded on this theme in one of her regular-as-clockwork e-mails to us here at AZBilliards, which provided us, at the conclusion of every tour stop, all of the information necessary to write a coherent report on each event.  It should be noted, in that regard, that we here at AZBilliards extend our thanks to her, as well.
 
“It had always been a dream of mine to start a tour in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area for the players and businesses,” she wrote to us. “I am so honored to have received such great support the last six years from the players, the sponsors and pool rooms that helped make the tour successful.”
 
“We grew from six stops a year with 64 players at each stop, and $1,200-added, to 12 stops a year with nearly 100 players and $1,700-added,” she wrote. “THANK YOU! Going to miss you all.”
 
She also took the time to explain that a new tour will debut in the DFW area soon, with, she explained, “11 stops next year.”
 
“So,” she wrote, “players will still have a tour to play on, which is really awesome.”
 
At the conclusion of her September blog entry, she inserted a quote from Lessons Learned in Life, which summed up the joy of the tour, the friends she’d made, and ultimately, the turmoil of the decision to move on.
 
“You will know you made the right decision,” it said, “when you pick the hardest and most painful choice, but your heart is at peace.”
 
We wish her well!