Hjorleifson goes undefeated to win 22nd Annual Jay Swanson (Swanee) Memorial
Skip Maloney
Feb. 26, 2018
(l to r): Manny Perez & Eric Hjorleifson
(l to r): Manny Perez & Eric Hjorleifson
It’s hard to know what causes the roller coaster of some careers in pool. Jobs, family, and a host of other influences can impact pool earnings in significant ways, including the distinct possibility of incomplete information. What may look in a given database (our own, included) like a severe drop in a player’s level of participation, may, in fact, just be just a gap in the information reported on his, or her activities.
Take Canada’s Erik Hjorleifson, for example, who just went undefeated to win the 22nd Annual Jay Swanson (“Swanee”) Memorial, held on the weekend of February 24-25. Fourteen years ago, he finished in the four-way tie for ninth place at the US Open 9-Ball Championships with three competitors well-known enough to be recognizable by their first names – Earl, Tony, and Ralf (Strickland, Robles and Souquet). A couple of years later (2006; his best recorded earnings year, to date, according to our records), Hjorleifson won two stops, back to back, on what’s known as the Canadian 30K Tour, and here in the US, finished runner-up to Dennis Hatch at a stop on the Joss NE 9-Ball Tour. He won another Canadian 30K Tour stop the following year, and cashed in 10 other events, including Turning Stone VIII (17th). And then, though he continued to appear on payout lists, there were no major tour victories of any kind until he showed up as the winner of the Canadian Championship Men’s Open 10-Ball in 2014.
Though he hasn’t been inactive or absent from payouts lists since then (second to Mika Immonen at Turning Stone XXV in 2016, for example, and 25th at both Turning Stone XXVII and XXVIII in 2017), Hjorleifson does appear to have experienced a drop in competitive frequency. Whether his victory at the recent Jay Swanson Memorial is a sign that his personal roller coaster is rising again, remains to be seen, but it was definitely a significant move in the right direction. He went undefeated through the field of 128 entrants that split a $10,000 prize pool. The event was hosted by OnCue Billiards in La Mesa, CA.
Following victories over Naiel Tito, Victor Ignacio (double hill), Jose Mendoza, Ben Hrabina (all, save Ignacio, 8-4), and the patriarch of the Dominguez clan, Ernesto 8-6, Hjorleifson moved into a winners’ side semifinal match against Dave Hemmah. Manny Perez, in the meantime, the eventual runner-up, was looking for what would be his first major event victory. He got by Johnny Kang, Marshall Jung, Steven Choy, Justin Marks and the “Swanee” Memorial’s defending champion, Brian Parks, to face Hungary’s Vilmos Foldes (7th in the event last year) in the other winners’ side semifinal.
Perez got into the hot seat match with an 8-4 victory over Foldes, and was joined by Hjorleifson, who’d sent Hemmah to the loss side 8-6. Hjorleifson claimed the hot seat 8-4 over Perez and sat in it to await his return.
On the loss side, Foldes picked up Mitch Ellerman, who, after being downed by Hemmah in a winners’ side quarterfinal, had gotten by Justin Marks 7-3, and Fach Garcia 7-4 to reach him. Garcia had previously eliminated the elder Dominguez, Ernest, which kept him (Ernesto) from an approaching match versus his son, Oscar (a matchup that the elder Dominguez traditionally forfeits). Hemmah picked up the son, Oscar, who, after his defeat at the hands of Foldes, in a winners’ side quarterfinal, had eliminated Mika Immonen 7-2 and Brian Parks 7-4.
Foldes advanced to the quarterfinals 7-2 over Ellerman, and was joined by Oscar Dominguez, who’d defeated Hemmah 7-5. Oscar eliminated Foldes in those quarterfinals and then, locked up in a double hill fight against Perez in the semifinals; a fight won by Perez to earn himself a second shot against Hjorleifson in the finals.
Hjorleifson completed his undefeated run. A repeat performance of the hot seat match 8-4 over Perez secured it.