Aug. 15, 2018
Though Billy Carroll and JR Poste share the headline for the story emerging out of the August 11-12 stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, it should be noted that the player who finished third has more than earned his spot in the story’s opening sentence. While it may be a little early to declare that BJ Ussery is ‘back’ from something of an extended leave of absence from high level pool competition, his performance at this most recent event is, at least, a sure sign that he’s still a force to be reckoned with.
But first, Carroll and Poste, who met twice in the $250-added event, which drew 23 entrants to Mickey Milligan’s in New Bern, NC. With Ussery already at work on the loss side, Carroll advanced through the field to face Robert Perez in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Poste drew Travis Guerra in the other one.
Carroll downed Perez 7-4 and in the hot seat match, faced Poste, who’d sent Guerra to the loss side 6-3. Carroll claimed the hot seat 7-5 over Poste, and waited on his return, or, possibly, if he had any sense of pool history, the return of Ussery.
On the loss side, it was Guerra who drew Ussery, four matches into his six-match, loss-side winning streak that had most recently included wins over Zac Leonard 11-5 and a shutout of Kameron Johnson. Perez drew Larry Pierce, who’d eliminated Jordan Oak 6-2 and Greg Smith 6-5 (it was Smith who’d sent Ussery to the loss side in the event’s second round).
In the first money round, Pierce downed Perez 6-3, as Ussery was busy allowing Guerra only a single rack in an 11-1 victory. In the quarterfinals that followed, Ussery defeated Pierce 11-4.
In what was essentially a handicapped race to 11, Poste began the semifinals with ‘five on the wire.’ He and Ussery both chalked up six racks, but the handicapped advantage gave Poste the victory he needed for a second shot at Carroll in the hot seat. Carroll completed his undefeated run with a 7-5 victory in the finals and his third win on the tour.
Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Mickey Milligan’s, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Delta 13 Racks, AZ Billiards and Professor Q-Ball. The next stop on the tour, scheduled for this weekend (August 18-19), will be hosted by the Gate City Billiards Club in Greensboro, NC.
Postscript - Eighteen years ago, BJ Ussery finished in the 32-player tie for 65th place at the 25th Annual US Open 9-Ball Championships. More remarkable than the feat itself is the evidence it provides of the caliber of player Ussery was keeping company with at the time. Sharing that tie for 65th place were (among others) Mike Davis, Shannon Daulton, Grady Matthews, Mike Zuglan, Allen Hopkins, Mika Immonen, and Steve Mizerak. It was also the year that Earl Strickland chalked up his fifth and what proved to be his last US Open 9-Ball title. In the years after that event, Ussery settled into a variety of Southern-based pool tours, regularly winning stops on the Southeast Open 9-Ball Tour, the Viking Tour, the Great Southern Billiard Tour, and The Jacoby Custom Cues Carolina Tour (to name just a few). Though he’s been away from the tables for a while now, he’s kept his hand in, so to speak. In 2014, he cashed in all three US Bar Box Championship events; 8-ball, 9-ball and 10-ball, and just last year, he finished fifth at the North Carolina State 10-Ball Open (held under the auspices of the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour), falling to long-time nemesis Mike Davis. Is BJ back? Inquiring minds would like to know.