Earl “The Pearl” goes undefeated to take Steve Mizerak Championship

Earl Strickland

Earl “the Pearl” Strickland won seven straight, including two against Shawn Putnam to take first place in the Seminole Pro Tour's Steve Mizerak Championships on the weekend of November 3-7 at the Hard Rock Casino and Hotel in Hollywood, FL.  The $50,000-added event, which drew 70 entrants, including all five members of the US Mosconi Cup Team and three members of the European team, featured a number of repeat matchups between players who had squared off against each other at the US Open 9-Ball Championships;  Mika Immonen against both Corey Deuel and Darren Appleton and in a repeat of the US Open finals, Appleton versus Deuel.

After an opening round bye, Strickland defeated Mike Barbagallo 9-4 and then dominated matches against Rodney Morris and Pierre Palmari 9-2. He then sent The Iceman west 9-6 to move among the winners' side final four to face Appleton.  Putnam, who, after an opening round bye, began his trip to the hot seat match with a 9-7 win over Tommy Kennedy, followed it with victories over Tony Meglino (9-2), Shannon Daulton (9-5), and Thorsten Hohmann (9-5) to take his place among the winners' side final four facing Deuel.  

Strickland and Appleton fought to double hill before Strickland prevailed to face Putnam, who'd sent Deuel to the one-loss side 9-4. In their first of two, Strickland defeated Putnam 9-5 to take possession of the hot seat.

Over on the one-loss side, Deuel drew Immonen, who'd defeated Charlie Williams 9-5 and Dennis Hatch 9-6 to reach him. Appleton picked up Hohmann, who'd defeated Donny Mills 9-5 and Tony Crosby 9-6. In a rematch of the US Open semifinals, albeit with a different result, Immonen dropped Deuel into the tie for fifth place as Appleton did likewise to Hohmann, both by the same 9-6 score.  The quarterfinal match of this Steve Mizerak Championship was a rematch of the US Open hot seat match between Appleton and Immonen.  Appleton advanced 9-4 to the semifinals versus Putnam, where his tournament bid ended with a 9-5 Putnam win.

Strickland, who won the US Bar Table Open 8-Ball Championships in Las Vegas back in February, and two stops on the Jacoby Custom Cues Carolina Tour since then, finished what is arguably one of his most significant victories since winning the World Pool Championships in Wales in 2002, with an 11-6 victory over Putnam in the finals, that completed his undefeated weekend. It was, as well, a significant second place finish for Putnam, who's a regular competitor on the Jacoby Custom Cues Carolina Tour, former Viking Tour and Ozone Billiards Tours, but has been away from the top events for a while.