Jeong Leads Korea’s Hopes

Young Hwa Jeong

The 1st Annual Brunswick Korea Pro Pool Tour Championships took place in the city of Icheon, Korea at the city's sports gymnasium complex. The city worked very hard on supplying the fans and players everything they needed.

The first day of Brunswick KPT Pro Tour Championships held 4 qualifiers to go into Stage 2 of the event to meet the invited players. 8 Koreans qualified in total. An interesting story was of a young boy named Hae Jin Shin who is only 13 years old who saw Dragon Promotions pool matches on TV months ago and decided that he would like to aspire to be a pro poolplayer on the KPT tour one day. This event, he packed his bags and headed on a 2 hour bus ride to Icheon to try his luck at Stage 1 qualifiers. He had enough money to try 2x, and failed to qualify. The people from the local Icheon City Alumni led by Mr. Yu met this young man and decided that the city would support him. So Mr.Yu and the city of Icheon paid for Hae Jin' s entry again for the 3rd qualifier where he met no success, and then they told him "you get one more chance so good luck!" and the boy did it! Icheon City then paid for the boy's hotel room, bought him new clothes for the tournament , and took him out to eat. Star treatment already ! When Mr.Yu was asked why so much support for Hae Jin Shin, he simply said, " Pool is a great sport that we want to see back in Icheon again, and we need to support the youth." And Hae Jin is not even from Icheon! The future for pool in Korea is looking good in Icheon...

The second day of the event saw all the international players compete such as new guests from the Philippines Gandy Valle, Ronnie Alcano, and Jeffrey Deluna. A strong Japan contingent with Hiroshi Takenaka, Shuji Nagata, Go Takami, and many more. And of course the superstars Mika Immonen, Thorsten Hohmann, and Charlie Williams.

Upsets abounded with Japan's Suzuki taking down Williams even with a 5-1 deficit to win 8 in a row. Then Takami (who might have had the toughest draw) beat Korea's #2 Ryu, then won a hill hill battle with Valle, and then took down the might Mika to advance to final 16. Young Hwa Jeong defended his territory by taking down recent Tokyo 9Ball Champion Takenaka to advance to final 16.

The upset thrills continued on Day 3 as Dragon Promotions General Manager James West (who is just a part time amateur player who qualified for the 1st time ever into stage 2) lost 8-0 to Immonen on the winners side, only to find himself the winner of a career match against San Miguel Asia Tour stop winner Gandy Valle by 8-5 verdict! His amazement wore off early though as Korea's #10 ranked player Hong Jo Jung won easily over West the next round. Charlie Williams seemed to struggle with his game(perhaps too much time thinking of the event production) and lost against unheralded Sung Wook Choi to be knocked out of the event.

Overall, the Koreans seemed to do well as 9 of the final 16 players were Korean. On the womens side, USA's Tina Meraglio continues to quickly broaden her horizons as she makes her 2nd international appearance jumping from regional amateur tour(Planet Pool) to world class international competition. Meraglio went undefeated including a hill hill win on TV against Korea's #2 ranked Yun Mi Lim to advance into the semi finals against Korea's #3 Bora Jung(both women have played each other recently during the Korea vs USA team event).

Mika Immonen went back on a rampage defeating Korea National Pool Coach Gu Sap Kim 9-2, and then avenging himself against Takami 9-1. Unfortunately, the joy ride would end there as Takenaka stopped the Iceman cold. Shin Young Park had the crowd behind him singing and cheering as he stormed into a 6-3 lead on TV against Hohmann. But the rolls changed and soon it went hill hill and Hohmann made a tricky run out to win the match 7-6. Next Alcano took advantage of an unfortunate Woong Dae Kim(current #1 in Korea) and shut him out on TV 7-0.

But the hero of the day has to be Young Hwa Jeong. Jeong, who is currently ranked #3, has had a lackluster 2 years. Its been 2 years since being #1 in Korea, and he has been titleless all year. His closes was being up 8-1 in the finals of the 2nd KPT event of the year, only to lose 8 in a row to lose the title 9-8 to Korea's Ryu. This event has seen Jeong's determination to end strongly, and if he wins the event he could not only be the first international event winner in Korea, but also overtake from behind the KPT Player of the Year and the #1 Bonus Money.

Jeong will play on MBC ESPN tomorrow against Alcano in the semi finals and Hohmann will take on Takenaka on the other side.

The event will air afterwards for 7 weeks on Korea's #1 network MBC ESPN