Doug Hale takes Olhausen All Around Win and Points List Lead

Doug Hale

A power packed field of 49 players made their way to Northern Lounge in Phoenix on February 11th and 12th to compete in the 2nd stop on the Olhausen Billiards Desert All Around Tour. The field included eight of the top ten players on the Poker Pool points list, as well as two previous tour stop winners (Scott Frost and Mike Pankoff) who were unable to play in the first stop on this year's tour.

The tournament was two days of exciting matches featuring big comebacks, 10-ball breaks and hill-hill heartbreakers. An interesting twist in the first round of matches was the number of familar opponents facing off. Northern Lounge room owner Larry Eans drew his longtime friend Curt Antol in the first round and sent him to the one loss side. No telling where that put Larry on Curt's Christmas Card list.

Both of the father/son duos ended up playing each other in round two of the event. After a win over Chris Shenker, Pete Gresh Jr found himself facing his dad in round two. At the same time that match was going on, Rodney Thompson was taking on his son Randy. Proving that experience trumps youth, both matches were won by the dads.

Scott Frost was one of the early favorites at the start of play, but Frost found himself on the one loss side after an early loss to Sean Brooks. Frost was finally eliminated by Glenn Bond, two spots out of the money.

The tournament saw it's fair share of upsets, as Randy Thompson took advantage of six early 10-balls to eliminate Dennis Orender. It looked like another upset win later in the tournament when Randy Pelton raced to an 8-3 lead over stop one winner Jimmy Mendoza. Unfortunately for Pelton, he would not be able to get over the hill as Mendoza won the next six games to pull out the win. Mendoza would fall in his next match though, as John Morton snapped four 10-balls in five games for the match win.

As the winners side narrowed down on Saturday, former Az All Around Champion Tony Confalone fought a battle with Mike Pankoff. Confalone got to the hill first, but Pankoff soon joined him there to force one game to determine the match winner. To Confalone's dismay, Pankoff snapped the 10-ball on the break and continued on the winners side while Confalone was sent to the left side of the board.

After wins over Randy Thompson and Pete Gresh Jr on Saturday, Confalone met up with Chris Adams in the first match of the day on Sunday. Chris and Tony are familiar opponents having faced each other numerous times in big events with Adams coming out on top the last few times. Confalone was able to get that monkey off his back with a 1-10 combo at hill-hill to send Adams home in 9th place.

On the winners side, it was Doug Hale fighting off the young guns in match after match. To get to the match for the hot-seat, Hale had to face Mike Pankoff. With the match tied at 7-7, Hale dug down and made two phenomenal combos to snatch the win 9-7.

In the match for the hot-seat, Hale faced Justin Whitehead. Whitehead raced to an early 3-0 lead, but Hale fought back to tie the match at 5-5 and then take the lead 7-5. Next it was Whitehead's turn to fight back and he tied the match at 7-7. Once again, Hale took advantage of combos in the last two games for the 9-7 win.

Whitehead went to the one loss side where he had to face Glenn Bond for the right to take on Hale in the finals. Whitehead held an early 3-1 lead in this match, but Bond took control and won five straight games to get to the hill at 6-3. Whitehead came back and tied the match at hill-hill and the fans were in store for another great game to decide who would play Hale in the finals. Whitehead took control of the rack early and navigated a very tough rack. It looked like he was through the worst of it when he one stroked a 5-ball and miscued on the shot. The 5-ball didn't find the pocket, but stayed out in the open to give Bond and easy few balls which he quickly deposited in pockets for the match win.

The final race to 11 match couldn't have been much closer with the score tied at 1-1, 2-2, 4-4, 6-6, 8-8 and 9-9. Hale had won two matches earlier in the tournament from this position using combinations, but he changed gears this time and switched to a purely defensive approach. Passing up a run that could lead to trouble later in the rack, Hale played two lock up safeties against Bond to get to the hill at 10-9. Making a ball on the break in the next game, Hale proceeded to run out for the 11-9 win.

Including side pots, Hale earned $2140 for first place as well as the #1 spot on the points list. Bond settled for $945 in second place prize money. Whitehead and John Morton filled out the top four spots.

The Olhausen Billiards Desert All Around Tour now takes the month of March off, but will be back with barbox 8-Ball at Metro Sportz Bar on April 15th and 16th.

The Olhausen Billiards Desert All Around Tour is sponsored by Olhausen Billiards ("The Best in Billiards"), as well as Poker Pool, Tiger Products, OnQ Cases, Whisler Custom Cues, Bebob Publishing, Joe Tucker, Billiards Digest, Pool and Billiard Magazine, Tom Simpson and Tim "The Monk" Miller. Just added this month was a $250 bonus prize sponsored by Billiards Digest magazine. The $250 will be paid out to the top points earning player rated 8 or below at the end of the seaon.