Europe Retains Mosconi Cup Trophy

Mika Immonen

Team Europe retained the Mosconi Cup by the second widest margin in the history of the competition.

They trounced their American counterparts at the Hilton Hotel, Portomaso by an 11- 5 score line with Most Valuable Player Mika Immonen potting the final 9 ball.

It was a sweet moment for the 35 year-old as he had the same opportunity to bring the trophy home in Rotterdam two years ago but messed up with the finish line in sight.

This time he made no mistakes as he took to the table following a lacklustre safety escape from Shane Van Boening and ran through the table for a 5-3 win.

‘It seems I'm burying a few ghosts. I won the US Open where I had a tragic final in 2001, then I won the Japan Open where I had lost in the final four times in ten years and won that,' said Immonen.

‘Then, my final and biggest goal was to win the Mosconi Cup. Finally it has happened and I can't believe it. I'm really overwhelmed.

‘The heart was pumping as much as earlier in the day when I was running on the treadmill at nine miles per hour to keep my conditioning.'

In the end it was a comfortable four days for Team Europe as their ebullient skipper Alex Lely made all the right moves, leading a team made up of players in some of the richest form of their lives.

"I played myself in 1995 and 2005 and we got spanked. We have got spanked quite often in this event. But I was made captain this year and I was very proud to be captain,' said Lely.

‘I knew my team were already champions and they had my respect, we all had each other's respect. We played with so much pride, discipline and focus on the task.

‘They're a machine, all I had to do was push the button, make the sandwiches and rack the balls.'

The Americans, on the other hand, struggled to master the break shot and had their backs to the wall as they trailed throughout the competition. In fact they didn't win a single session.

Lead by skipper Nick Varner, they never gained sufficient momentum to mount a serious challenge.

‘We didn't get the result we wanted but I would like to thank my team. You guys are champions and it has been my pleasure being your team captain, thanks for turning up,' said Varner.

‘The score line was reversed to what I wanted to see but I have to congratulate Team Europe - they played great,' he added.

All of the European team played their part with the pairing of Niels Feijen and Ralf Souquet particularly potent throughout as they won four out of four matches to really set their side on their way.

Following his heroics last year, local boy Tony Drago surprisingly did not produce a point but to be part of the winning team on his home island was adequate compensation.

‘First of all a few weeks ago I lost a dear friend in Paul Medati so this goes to him. Secondly I tried to play my best. I played a great match against Strickland but he beat me 5-4 and Shane did the same,' said an emotional Drago.

‘The Americans are great players. We don't see eye-to-eye because that's what it means. I always wanted to lift the trophy in front of my mother and now I have.'

After 15 runnings of the Mosconi Cup the score now stands at ten to the Americans, four to Europe and one drawn result.

The event moves back to the MGM Grand in December 2009 and the USA will need to turn things around if they are to win the Mosconi Cup for the first time since 2005.

Photo courtesy of Lawrence Lustig - Matchroom Sport