Appleton and Putnam in Finals at U.S. Open


Darren Appleton will attempt to win his second straight US Open 9-Ball Championship, when he squares off to face Shawn Putnam in the finals of the 36th annual event, set to commence at 7:30 p.m. this evening.

In simultaneous matches at 1 o'clock on Saturday, Appleton faced Alex Pagulayan in the hot seat match, as Putnam dealt with Dennis Hatch in the event quarterfinals. In what appeared, at times, to be two pool matches intricately synchronized to play to separate audiences, the hot seat match and quarterfinals of the 36th annual US Open 9-Ball Championships got underway, shortly after their scheduled time of 1 o'clock, on Saturday, October 22. The Dennis Hatch/Shawn Putnam quarterfinal got underway just a little ahead of the hot seat match between Alex Pagulayan and reigning US Open Champion Darren Appleton, which took place on Accu-Stat's TV table.

As Pagulayan and Appleton were being introduced to the assembled crowd, Shawn Putnam was busy racking up the first two of seven straight he would win to keep Hatch seated for a very long time. Pagulayan and Appleton broke out of the gate slowly and cautiously, trading racks in the early going.

Tied at 4-4, Pagulayan opened up the first two-game lead of the hot seat match, but they'd prove to be the final two games he'd win. Appleton came right back to tie it and then, win five more to advance to the hot seat for the second year in a row.

Meanwhile, back on the quarterfinal table, Hatch, down 7-0, celebrated his first game victory with a sort of mock triumph, elevating his stick high above his head and relishing what would prove to be one of the only two matches he would win. Putnam allowed him only one more rack and turned to face Pagulayan in the 3:30 p.m. semifinals.

The back and forth of the semifinal didn't last long. At 2-2, Putnam chalked up four straight to take a 6-2 lead. Pagulayan got that down to a two-point lead at 6-4, but Putnam came right back with two to make it 8-4.

Pagulayan made his run at this point, winning four straight of his own, much to the delight of the assembled audience. Putnam, though, came right back, using a 4-9 combination to go up 9-8, and then, after trading safety shots through rack 18, finished it up to reach the hill. Pagulayan attempted an 8-9 combo in the 19th rack, and when it failed, Putnam capitalized to run what was left of the rack, and earn a finals re-match against Appleton, who'd sent him to the loss-side from among the winners' side final four.