Brady Gollan wins Stan James Tour Finale

Sunday at the Stan James Canadian Nine Ball final in Valleyfield, Qubec began with twelve men still in the hunt. This stop, sponsored by Stan James Bookmakers, Simonis Billiard Cloth, Aramith Billiard Balls and Canada Billiards, held the toughest field of the tour to date.

The day began with an unusual father-son match-up. Mario Morra found himself opposite his son, John. As seems to so often be the case in this game, youth had its day and the son bested the father. At the same time Alex Pagulayan was ending the quest for Jason Holdaway, Alain Martel put the parking brake on Al Logan and Nicholas Guimond sent Marco Rodier home.

The next round held out a bit of a surprise when young Morra beat former World Champion Alex Pagulayan, forcing Pagulayan to settle for a disappointing 7-8th finish. Nicholas Guimond joined Pagulayan in that tie after Alain Martel blasted through him with his uncanny speed and devastating break shot.

On the winner's side Erik Hjorliefson came back to win his match against Danny Hewitt and Tyler Edey also came from behind to defeat Brady Gollan. Hewitt would only last one more round as Alain Martel again showed his best. Gollan would continue on as he defeated John Morra and sent Morra into a tie for 5th with Hewitt.

Gollan seemed to improve throughout the day. He went double-hill with Alain Martel and then survived a late-game safety battle to persevere. Martel laid claim to fourth place as Tyler Edey and Erik Hjorliefson were deciding the hot seat. Hjorliefson took that one and relaxed as Edey moved over to take on the now energized Brady Gollan.

Early in this match Edey could gain no comfort as he simply had very few opportunities. Gollan was controlling the tables and winning the early rounds consistently. Before long Gollan led the match 5-1 and the tension began to show in Edey's face. The next game took a full twenty minutes as the table broke out ugly and safeties were returned with safeties. Edey had the first go at a shot and appeared to have the out well in hand but hung the six ball in the corner pocket to deliver the win to Gollan.

The marathons had begun. The next rack also broke into nothing but clusters and traps and the balls disappeared ever so grudgingly. Twenty minutes after the rack came apart Gollan stroked the nine into the corner and led the match 7-1. It was time for Edey to throw caution to the wind and come out firing. Gollan would give him no chance in the next game as he once again prevented any opportunities from showing to Edey.

In the next rack Edey twice had shots on the three ball that he would normally convert. But the frustration of the match had now turned his usually sharp stick dull and witless and both shots failed to meet the mark. Gollan took the table at the three and ran through the remaining balls to gain his berth against Hjorliefson in the finals while Edey had another in his series of high finishes to complete the day in third place, albeit in disappointing fashion as a result of this 9-1 drubbing.

Erik Hjorliefson was determined to avoid that type of fate. He broke and ran the first rack in the expanded final race to eleven games. But he could not retain control in the next and Gollan tied the match at one apiece. Gollan then missed a tough cut on the one ball in the third rack and Hjorliefson ran through the rest of the balls to go back out in front 2-1.

The see-saw was in full tilt when Hjorliefson came up dry on the next snap. This resulted in a very lengthy safety game that saw neither player giving quarter. After more than a dozen hidings the two ball finally went into the corner for Hjorliefson. From there he finished out the rack and increased the spread to 3-1 in his favor.

Another dry break in rack five resulted in Gollan coming back to the table. The balls were available to Gollan and he took full advantage to reduce the margin to one game and trail 3-2. Rack six was another clumsy layout. But when Gollan moved things around a bit as he lucked the one ball in off of the two ball the table opened with possibilities. Gollan took the chance home and we were tied at three games apiece.

Gollan pounded the rack and made four balls on the next break but the one was only available for a long-rail bank-combo on the nine ball. He made it to gain the lead 4-3. His break and run in the next rack showed a quickened pace and a great display of confidence. Now leading 5-3 he once again bent to he break. This time two balls vanished but the one again had no cut available. The bank shot was a win or sell-out proposition and so he elected a safety. Hjorlieson returned it, obviously frustrated at the lack of recent opportunities. This was made all the worse when he scratched and handed the ball over to Gollan.

Gollan finished that rack off as well to extend his lead to 6-3 and now a string of five consecutive wins. Hjorliefson could not catch a break. Gollan missed the two ball in the side but the cue ball rolled up into a snooker he could not escape. Once again Gollan had ball in hand. He finished the rack early with a 5-9 combo.

Rolling now, Gollan broke and ran the next rack to extend his lead to 8-3. He repeated that feat in the next rack to stand within two games of victory. Finally, he came up dry on the next break. Hjorliefson raced through the rack, eager for the win and a little momentum. After eight straight losses he finally sank a nine to stand at 8-4 with the break.

Early rack safety play again blossomed in the next game. This time it was Hjorlieffson who gained the ball in hand advantage. This allowed him to draw a little closer and our scoreline was now 9-5.

But bad luck returned quickly to Hjorliefson when he scratched on the ensuing break shot. The resulting run put Gollan on the hill and breaking. Two balls dropped on his break and the rest were in the clear. He ran the rack and took his first victory of the year.

The four points leaders at the end of this years tour are, in order, Edwin Montal, Tyler Edey, Brady Gollan, and Erik Hjorliefson. Montal and Edey have, through their efforts, gained seats in the upcoming World Nine Ball Championships.

1) Brady Gollan $5,000
2) Erik Hjorliefson $2,750
3) Tyler Edey $1,750
4) Alain Martel $1,250
5-6) Danny Hewitt, John Morra $750
7-8) Alex Pagulayan, Nicholas Guimond $500
9-12) Marco Rodier, Al Logan, Mario Morra, Jason Holdaway $350

Photo courtest of Jerry Forsyth