Bennett goes undefeated to capture 5th Annual NC State 9-Ball Championships
Skip Maloney
May 30, 2019
Keith Bennett
Keith Bennett
In the absence of defending champion Reymart Lim and 2015 champion Jeff Abernathy, it was left to former two-time champion Mike Davis (2016, 2017) and last year’s runner-up, Brandon Shuff to carry the flag (so to speak) into the 2019 North Carolina State 9-Ball Open (or Championships, if you prefer). Though Shuff would, for the second year in a row, do battle in the hot seat match, it was Keith Bennett, who finished in the four-way tie for 9th place last year, who claimed the hot seat. Shuff was subsequently denied the opportunity for a second shot at Bennett, when, in the semifinals, he was defeated by Justin Martin, who had lost to Bennett in the third round and won seven on the loss side to face him a second time in the finals. Bennett prevailed in those finals, however, to claim the 2019 NC State 9-Ball title. The $500-added event, held under the auspices of the Viking Cues Q City 9-Ball Tour, drew 41 entrants to Brown’s Billiards in Raleigh on this past Memorial Day weekend (May 25-26).
 
Bennett and Shuff’s only match, battling for the hot seat, followed Bennett’s 7-2 victory over Steve Page and Shuff’s defeat of Kelly Farrar 7-4 in the two winners’ side semifinals. In a double hill hot seat battle, Shuff scratched, shooting at the 7-ball in the deciding game and Bennett closed it out. Shuff, as noted, would not return.
 
On the loss side, where, for a while, Mike Davis, JT Ringgold, BJ Ussery and the 2017 Q City 9-Ball Tour champion Joshua Padron remained in the hunt for a win, Justin Martin continued his steady progress to a re-match versus Bennett in the finals. He chalked up loss-side wins #3 and #4 against Billy Fowler 7-3 and eliminated JT Ringgold, double hill to face Page. Farrar drew Mike Davis, who’d most recently defeated Ussery and Padron, both 7-5.
 
Martin downed Page 7-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Farrar, who’d survived a double hill fight against Davis. Though Davis had reached the hill first, Farrar rallied to win it. Martin gave up just a single rack to Farrar in the quarterfinals and then spoiled Shuff’s bid for a second appearance in these NC State 9-Ball Open finals, by defeating him, double hill.
 
It was a hard fought battle for the 2019 title that fell a game short of going double hill. Bennett edged out in front at the end to claim the title 9-7.
 
Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Brown’s Billiards, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Bar Pool Tables, Delta 13 Racks, AZ Billiards and Professor Q-Ball. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (June 1-2) will be a $200-added event, hosted by a new venue on the tour; the Sunrise Saloon & Grill in Greer, SC.