IPT Round Four Complete

Ronnie Alcano

The hatchet came down on half of the 36-player field after Thursday's last round at the North American Open 8-Ball Championship. The brutal, five-round format killed off 18 players who earned $17,000 for their 19th-place finishes, while 18 remain to attempt to carve out a bigger piece of the incredible $2,000,000+ prize fund.

In Friday's rounds, players will be guaranteed at least $30,000 each for tying at 7th place. Of the 18 players to advance, 5 made it to the IPT's multi-million-dollar event through qualifiers'Rico Diks, David Matlock, Rodolfo Luat, Ronato Alcano, and Larry Nevel!

From the Filipino contingency, nine began the day, and seven are left. Not a bad average. Those that will not be returning are Santos Sambajon Jr. and Antonio Lining. "The Magician" squeaked by into Friday's rounds by coming out ahead in the hill-hill bout he played against Mick Hill of the U.K. While running the table, Reyes came within a hair's breadth of scratching after pocketing the 8 ball in the corner, eliciting a huge gasp and then a burst of applause from the substantial crowd.

Earl Strickland engendered controversy during his second-round, televised match with Nick Van den Berg of Holland. Strickland made several comments to Van den Berg's family members who were in the audience, and things escalated from there. In an interview later, Van den Berg called Strickland "a disgrace to the sport," while Strickland was unrepentant, saying, "I know I'm a terrible person, but you still have to show me some kind of respect." IPT Tour Director Deno Andrews is investigating the situation. Behavior that is deemed unsportsmanlike conduct can result in a suspension or loss of a Tour Card. Strickland's day came down to a hair-splitting match with Ronato Alcano, who won the Manila stop of the ferocious 2005 San Miguel Asian 9-Ball Tour and celebrated his 34th birthday today. Though Alcano held an early 4-1 lead, from there it was every man for himself, and it turned out to be another nail-biter. In the very last rack, Strickland still had two object balls on the table but couldn't make either of them. Instead of opting to play safe, he blasted them, and Alcano was able to run out (though he left himself an almost 45-degree angle on the 8!) for the win. Alcano advances, Strickland is eliminated.

Click here for tournament results, statistics, pictures, and stories from the IPT North American Open 8-Ball Championship!

File photo courtesy of Diana Hoppe - Pool Pics by Hoppe