Gabe Owen Wins 32nd Texas State Open Championships!

Gary Welling and Gabe Owen

Gcue Billiards in Round Rock, TX. hosted the 32nd Annual Texas State Open 9 Ball Championships on September 2-5, 2005. Despite hurricane Katrina and outrageous gas prices, sixty-four men entered the second longest running event in the United States.

The field proved to be tough as top picks were Jui Lung Chen, Gabe Owen, James Davis Sr., Sylver Ochoa, David Guttierez, Jonathan 'Lil' Jon' Macias, Paul Guernsey and Scott Kephart. All players seemed focused on his share of the $4000 added purse.

Finishing 13-16th were Paul Guernsey, Randall Wilkes, Ray Baca and Marc Garza.

Claiming the 9-12th positions were Sylver Ochoa, Candy Ramos, Bill Fuller and Gordon Van de Veer, all with a very respectable finish.

Shane Harvey and Billy Dyke finished in the 7-8th positions as each played very well and neither was ready to stop.

Jui Lung Chen, last year's champion, and Manny Chau finished in the 5-6th spots. Manny had a heart breaker of a match against David Henson as Manny led the match 8-1, only to have David storm back and win 9-8.

David Henson appears to be a very loose and unconcerned player. David is not as active in tournament play as he used to be because his focus has shifted to that of a parent, and a proud one. Don't let it fool you, as he is still very much a threat at any event. David first handled Gaines Jonakin but was quickly derailed in his next match in a hill-hill nail biter with a world-class kick shot by Barry Strickland. On the left side, He beat Scott Kephart, Randall Wilkes, Candy Ramos, Shane Harvey and Manny Chau before succumbing to David Guttierez and ending in 4th place.

David Guttierez has a long stroke and an intimidating appearance at the table and is a force to be reckoned with as a previous champion of this event. David began his quest with wins over Steve Pennington, 9-9, Raul Escobedo, 9-6, Jimmy Springfield, 9-8, and Candy Ramos, 9-5, but was sent to the brutal bracket by Jonathan Macias, 9-6. Then, he dismissed Jui Lung Chen, 9-4, and David Henson, 9-7, only to face Lil' Jon Macias. David lost 9-6 and was forced to take a very nice 3rd place.

Jonathan Macias is starting to make a name for himself on the tournament circuit. He started with triumphs over Ricardo Espinosa, 9-4, John Dubsky, 9-8, James Davis Sr., 9-8, Shane Harvey, 9-4, and David Guttierez, 9-6, before suffering his first loss in the finals of the winner's bracket, 9-5, to Gabe Owen. On the one loss side, Jon was forced to wait for David 'G.' where he prevailed, 9-6, to go the final match of the weekend.

Gabe Owen lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma but in Texas, we consider him 'family'. Gabe is the current U. S. Open Champion and a very talented all-around player with his cautious and methodical style of play, which he executes in a rather quiet and gentlemanly manner. Gabe began his trek with victories over Samuel Downs, 9-1, Mike Mitchell, 9-3, Sylver Ochoa, 9-6, Gordon Van de Veer, 9-1, Manny Chau, 9-3, and Jon Macias, 9-5, to jump into the hot seat.

Lil' Jon kept the crowd in awe as he sliced balls backwards or banked his way out of trouble. Gabe, on the other hand, did not look entirely at ease in the early rounds but gained momentum as the event progressed. In the final match, though, Gabe had the cue ball on a string and looked very focused. Gabe held an 8-3 lead, when Lil' Jon fought back to 8-5, when he suffered a horrible roll on the four ball and gave Gabe ball in hand with a very tricky out. The young veteran cautiously maneuvered around and through the balls to capture the 32nd Texas State Open 9 Ball Championships.

Congratulations to Jonathan Macias on a great tournament. He kept people on the edge of their seats the entire weekend!

Gabe, meanwhile, captured his second Texas Open championship and we wish him well in his title defense at the U. S. Open.

The 32nd Texas State Open 9 Ball Championships is over, but it will be remembered. Gcue Billiards had been sponsoring and sending packages to a local Marine, Lance Corporal Steven Gill, who was stationed in Iraq. About a month ago, this brave young man was killed in service to his country. Gary Welling, owner of Gcue Billiards, requested a moment of silence for this fallen solider before the final match. Also, there was uncertainty and concern for our neighbors to the east in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi from the devastation of hurricane Katrina. The mood was more sobering as we learned of the passing of one of our sports true legends, Eddie 'The Knoxville Bear' Taylor.

A special thanks to Gary Welling, Gcue Billiards and their staff for hosting a great event and showing the courage to continue with the event when many others would have cancelled. Competition often brings out the best in people during times of trauma and uncertainty. It will not be forgotten!

1st Gabe Owen $5220
2nd Jonathan Macias $3470
3rd David Guttierez $2420
4th David Henson $1630
5-6th Jui Lung Chen, Manny Chau $990
7-8th Shane Harvey, Billy Dyke $730
9-12th Sylver Ochoa, Candy Ramos, Bill Fuller, Gordon Van de Veer $340
13-16th Paul Guernsey, Randall Wilkes, Ray Baca, Marc Garza $260