Ga Young Kim is third WPBA Masters Champion
Skip Maloney - AzB Staff
Feb. 10, 2013
Ga Young Kim

 

With a gritty performance against Allison Fisher in the event semifinals and a dominating performance against Monica Webb in the finals, Ga Young Kim laid claim to the third WPBA Masters title,  joining Jasmin Ouschan (2011) and Ewa Mataya Laurance (2012) in the event archives. The Sunday, February 10 semifinals and finals marked the first time in the 20-year history of the WPBA Classic Tour that these matches had been broadcast live (by ESPN3). Preceded by a Wednesday, February 6 Kids Clinic, and the induction of Jeanette Lee into the WPBA Hall of Fame, the WPBA Masters commenced on Thursday, February 7, and drew 48 entrants to the Soaring Eagle Resort and Casino in Mount Pleasant, MI. 

By virtue of two less matches, Allison Fisher ended up with the highest winning percentage among the event's four finalists (67%, 4-1). Kim ended up with the second highest winning percentage (64%, 6-1), and had to come from the loss-side to get into the single elimination semifinals. She'd cruised through her opening rounds, defeating Maureen Seto and Jana Montour, both 9-3, as well as Janet Atwell 9-5. Then, she ran into Karen Corr, who was fresh off a double hill win over Jeanette Lee. Corr chalked up her second straight double hill win, and Ga Young Kim was westbound. Kim picked up Ouschan on the loss side, and downed her 9-6, which put her among the final four.  

Webb, with the event's third highest winning percentage (56%), got by Kelly Cavanaugh, 9-3, survived a double hill match against Kim White-Newsome, and downed Ouschan 9-3, before running into Fisher, who sent her to the loss side 9-4. There, she ran into Lee, and with a 9-6 win that put Lee in the broadcast booth with Mitch Laurance, instead of at the table battling to get into the finals, Webb was among the final four.

Rearranged, the semifinal matchups could have been re-matches; Kim versus Corr, Webb against Fisher, but the re-seeding scrambled that, pitting Kim against Fisher, in the first of the broadcast matches, and later, Corr against Webb. The first of the three matches proved to be the best of the bunch, as Kim and Fisher battled to double hill in the newly-employed tournament format (used on the Tour of Champions) - two races to 4, with a sudden death game in the event of a tie. After they'd traded racks (alternate break) to a 3-3 tie, Fisher took the opening set. In the second set, Fisher was the first to chalk up two straight racks throughout the entire eight-game semifinal match (down 0-1, she won the second and third game).  Kim got back into it, and once again, they were knotted at 3-3. An unforced error (with a bridge) by Fisher in the last rack, gave Kim the opening she needed, and she tied the match score at 1-1, forcing the sudden death game. Kim came up dry on the break, but Fisher chalked up an unforced error shooting at the 2-ball. Kim returned the favor, and stretching out just a little too far, she missed the 2-ball, as well. Some safety play ensued, including a ball-in-hand safety for Kim. Both used up their quota of extensions on the 45-second shot clock and the pressure was on. Kim hung in to sink the final 9-ball (only the second time that either of them had won two games in a row) and she advanced to the finals.

The winner of the next two matches - the second semifinal, and the final - did not give up a rack to her opponent. Webb opened up her semifinal match against Corr with her 6th break-and-run of the tournament, punctuating the start of this match with a bank on the 9-ball. She concluded the opening set, three racks later, with a 1-9 combination. Corr opened the second set proceedings by sinking four balls on the break, but had absolutely nothing to shoot at. She made an unforced error (typical of the entire match, during which Corr seemed off-stride), and handed the first game to Webb. Webb broke and took the second game. Though safety play was prominently featured in the next two games, Webb sunk all the balls, and she was into the finals against Kim.

Two unforced errors by Webb in the opening two games of the two-set finals gave Kim a quick 2-0 lead, which she promptly turned into 3-0, with a 4-9 combination. Webb snookered herself shooting at the 2-ball in the next rack, and Kim finished things to take the opening set. In the opening game of the second set, Webb committed another unforced error, which effectively gave Kim the game. Kim followed it by breaking and running the second rack for her second 2-0 lead. In the third rack, Kim chalked up an uncharacteristic unforced error, but Webb returned the favor with one of her own, and Kim finished to reach the championship hill. Kim finished with her eighth break-and-run of the tournament to claim the event title.

According to Kim, who spoke to announcer Mitch Laurance after the match, she'd made some mental adjustments from her "not great" semifinal match against Fisher. 

"I was nervous and my break wasn't working for me," she told him, adding that she'd been aided in her finals effort by Webb, who, "when she broke, wasn't getting a shot."

"I was a little overexcited," admitted Webb of her effort in the finals. "Overly pumped up."

Whether it was uncharacteristic unforced errors, odd rolls, or (in Corr's case, perhaps) a case of the common jitters, Fisher described the three events that closed the 2013 WPBA Masters event best, in a post-semifinal match interview.

"Funny things were happening on the table," Fisher said.

The two semifinal matches and final of the 2013 WPBA Masters Tournament will be archived on the ESPN3 Web site for 30 days; visit http://espn.go.com/watchespn/index/_/id/817665/wpba-masters