Payton tops field at GSBT stop

Roy Payton went undefeated in winning his first Great Southern Billiard Tour stop on the weekend of February 6-7. The $1,500-added, A-B handicapped event drew 30 entrants to the Zoo City Saloon in Asheboro, NC.

From among the winners' side final four, Payton sent his eventual finals opponent, Jeff Baumgarner west 7-2, before stepping into the hot seat match versus Tony Morrison. Morrison had sent Kevin Boggs to the one-loss side 9-7. With Morrison needing to win nine, Payton sent him over 7-6 to gain the hot seat.

On the one-loss side, Baumgarner picked up the player known simply as Cotton, who'd defeated Robert Ash 7-3 and Paul Mullins 7-6 to get to him. Boggs drew James Blackburn, who'd gotten by Joe Edmonds 7-3 and Mike Basha 7-6. With a 7-5 win over Cotton, Baumgarner moved into the quarterfinals to face Boggs, who'd defeated Blackburn 9-2. Baumgarner, two steps away from the final, got there the hard way, with back-to-back double hill wins, starting with Boggs.

Semifinalists Baumgarner and Morrison had met in a semifinal match on the Great Southern Billiard Tour three months ago. They played a total of 19 games over two matches in that November 2009 tour stop; first, among the winners' side final four and then, in those semifinals. Morrison, celebrating his birthday at the time, gave up only a single rack in the course of those two matches. This time, however, perhaps with visions of that earlier defeat on his mind, Baumgarner dug in, battling back and forth and finally winning the hill-hill contest that sent him to the finals.

In those finals, both Payton and Baumgarner were looking for their first win on the tour. Payton took the opening set 7-5 to seal the deal and chalk up that first tour victory.