Hughes and Bolton split top prizes on season opener of Players Madness Tour

Larry Hughes and Mark Bolton

In January, Mark Bolton was runner-up to Mike Davis in the Q City 9-Ball Tour’s season opener. In February, Larry Hughes, having won the tour’s Championship last November, chalked up his third (recorded) payout by finishing third on the same tour. This past weekend, March 4 (spilling into the early hours of March 5), Hughes and Bolton had two opportunities to go head-to-head in the season opener of the Players Madness Tour, which drew 25 entrants to Gate City Billiards Club in Greensboro, NC. They took advantage of one of those opportunities but opted out of a second one. They chose instead to split the event’s top two prizes when Bolton returned from the loss side to earn a spot in the finals. Hughes, as the undefeated occupant of the hot seat, became the event’s official winner. 

On his way to the hot seat match, Hughes’ opponents kept creeping up on him, chalking up one more rack against him than his previous opponent. Hughes got by Gene Parker (2), Keifer Almond (3) and Orlando Marcos (4), before engaging in a winners’ side semifinal against Bolton (5), which proved to be their first and only match. In the meantime, Brent Kyles sent Dakota Ash (2), Shannon Johnson (2) and Brian Overman (5) to the loss side, before meeting and defeating Daniel Jones (3) in the other winners’ side semifinal to match up against Hughes in the hot seat match. With Kyles racing to 7, Hughes downed him 6-5 to claim the hot seat.

On the loss side, Bolton drew Brian Overman, who’d followed his defeat versus Kyles with victories over Joey Fesperman 7-1 and Dean McLaren 7-3. Jones drew a rematch versus Robert Ash, whom he’d sent to the loss side in the second round by shutting him out. Ash went on to win four on the loss side, including the recent elimination of Tim Nelson 5-4 (Nelson racing to 7) and Greg Neil 5-2.

Bolton advanced to the quarterfinals with a 9-4 win over Overman. Ash (likely) surprised Jones with a 5-4 win in their rematch (Jones racing to 6). 

Bolton then (likely) surprised Ash in those quarterfinals by handing him his second defeat by shutout. In what proved to be the last match of the event, Bolton downed Kyles 9-4 in the semifinals.

The accommodation for splitting the top two prizes was negotiated, Hughes became the event’s official winner and the Players Madness Tour’s season opener came to an end. 

Tour director Xzavia (X Man) Boykin thanked the ownership and staff at Gate City Billiards Club for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Bruce Byrd (owner, Classic Home Billiards) and Cory Shemtov (Portico). The next stop on the Players Madness Tour, scheduled for Saturday, March 25, will be a handicapped 9-ball event, hosted by Rack ‘Em Billiards in Matthews, NC. 

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