Parks Prevailed as 2009 Men’s U.S. Amateur Champion

Chris Walls, Daniel Gambill, Travis Gunn, Brian Parks, Joseph Cole, Dean Vince

Top California player, Brian Parks, was crowned the new men's U.S. Amateur Champion. On November 6-8, Strokers in Tampa, Florida hosted the 15th annual U.S. Amateur Championship, presented by the APA. This year, 128 men qualified from 32 states to compete for this prestigious title. Only the last one standing will receive the prize of paid entry and accommodations for the men's 2010 US Open 9 Ball Championships.

Parks' story was not unlike that of this year's women's champ, Betty Sessions. Parks too had a collection of fifth, fourth, and third place hardware at home. After his fourth year of failed attempts, he can finally complete the set with the coveted first place marble and bronze trophy.

Parks, hometown hero in Bakersfield, CA, stormed through the right side of the field until he met up with reigning champ, Travis Gunn in his first match on Sunday morning. “I played really bad in that match,” said a disappointed Parks. Gunn would continue to the quarter and semi finals before two 7-5 losses to Alabama's Joseph Cole and a rematch with Parks to finished third.

20-year old Joseph Cole, sponsored by, went undefeated into the finals with Parks. The full-time student felt confident coming to Tampa and believed he was playing well enough to win. On his road to the top, he took down last year's top two finishers, Chris Walls and Gunn. Parks won five more matches on the west side of the board to join young Cole in the finals arena.

This tournament format includes both 8-ball and 9-ball. The winner of the lag chooses the starting game or the opening break, race to 7 for the men and race to 5 for the women. The finals were a single-set race to 11 games. The two players definitely put on a great show for the spectators. In a suspenseful finale, the score was 11 to 10 with the two players exchanging run outs.

Cole won the lag and chose to break first. Parks opted to start with 8-ball and fired off three strong table runs. The crowd wondered if he would just run the set out. An unfortunate missed 8 ball in fourth rack gave Cole a chance to respond with some break-and-runs of his own. Of the 21 games, after the first eight games of 8-ball, the score was tied at four games a piece. The match continued this way through the end. It was 5-5, then 6-6, then 7-7.

At 8-8, Parks finally pulled away. He combo'd the 9 ball and broke and ran to get on the hill first. At 10-8, with all the adrenaline pumping and the finish line in sight, Parks broke and scratched. With ball in hand, the very deliberate Cole ran out the rack and the next one to join Parks on the hill.

In the final game, the nerves began to show for both players. After a series of lucky misses, safeties, and goofy rolls, Cole faced a difficult shot on the 6 ball for the match. He needed to bring the cue ball between the 9 ball and side pocket to play the 7 ball in the same pocket. He also didn't want to flirt with the opposite side pocket. All these worries were just enough to distract him from the ultimate goal of pocketing the 6 ball.

The shocked Parks saw his chance. He shot the 6 ball with some inside english for the 7 ball when, for a few seconds, it looked like the 6 was going to hang in the jaws. The crowd gasped and Cole began to get out of his seat when it dropped. Parks took a sigh of relief as he continued to pocket the final three balls for the victory. “I feel happy……..finally. I didn't feel nervous at all until the end,” said Parks, sponsored by his own Farmers Insurance business.

Of the 30 ladies in the women's division, Atlanta's sweetheart Sessions finally fulfilled her dream of becoming the U.S. Amateur Champion after a string of third, second, and third in the previous three years. Parks and Sessions both receive paid travel, lodging, and entry fees into their respective 2009 U.S. Open 9-Bal event.

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