IPT World Open 8-Ball Championship Round Three Complete

Mick Hill

Four days deep into the IPT World Open 8-Ball Championship in Reno Nevada finds a strange combination of stories. Lots of heartbreak abounds with grand champions who have fallen by the wayside. Our two finalists in Las Vegas, Thorsten Hohmann and Marlon Manalo, were cast out of the competition on their first day. But those names are not alone in their despair. They are joined on the sidelines by the likes of Jeremy Jones, Johnny Archer, Earl Strickland, and Allison Fisher.

On the other side of that coin are three players out of the two hundred who began the week who have yet to lose a single match, an almost unbelievable feat considering the depth of competition here present. Karl Boyes and Mick Hill, two relatively unheralded English Eight Ball players from the United Kingdom, have waxed every foe they have faced. They are joined atop the charts by a more familiar name, Francisco Bustamante of the Philippines.

The grandeur of being undefeated here is highlighted not only by the tough equipment and opposition but also by the tremendous pressure these players are under. With half a million dollars waiting up top for the winner of this event nerves are evident and on edge throughout the arena. Normally confident arms are growing clumsy from the importance of each shot. As you look around the room there are always players sitting in their chair with their head in their hands trying to shake off that last mistake.

Players who are handling the tension are performing well. The unflappable Ralf Souquet had a great day, winning three of his four matches. David Alcaide of Spain defeated everyone in his group today, a bunch that included Rodney Morris, Mike Davis, Alex Lely and Sandor Tot. Thomas Engert also white-washed his group by taking down Corey Deuel, Tony Drago, Edwin Montal and Shannon Daulton. Ronnie Alcano of the Philippines took three of his four matches, as did his countrymen Efren Reyes and Antonio Lining. Larry Nevel matched that effort as did Tony Drago. One stick to watch is Hsia Hui-Kai of Taiwan. Already riding a strong week, he went three for four today and seems to strengthen with each match.

Thursday will dawn with only thirty-six cues still swinging. Just being alive on day five has its rewards. It moves them ever closer to qualifying for the 2007 Tour Cards and the first man out will still pocket in excess of $21,000, far more than the winners of most of the pool tournaments in American history.