Putnam comes back from one-loss side to take Nevel in Carolina Open One-Pocket Finals

Doug Ennis (TD), Shawn Putnam, Larry Nevel and Bucky Braxton (room owner)

By the time the Carolina Open in Goldsboro, NC went into a Tuesday night, October 6th, Warm-Up One-Pocket Tournament, Shawn Putnam had gone through two separate fields of players undefeated; 44 of them over two events in approximately 24 hours. He'd won the season finale of the Jacoby Custom Cues Carolina on Sunday, October 4 and followed that with an undefeated run though a field of 27 players who'd signed on for a 9-Ball Warm-Up Tournament that preceded the official start of the Carolina Open on Monday night, October 5. On Tuesday night, October 6, though, after the start of the One-Pocket event had been delayed by a day, Putnam joined a field of 17 entrants for a One-Pocket Warm-Up Tournament and in an early round and then the finals, ran into Larry Nevel, who stopped his streak right there. Nevel's 3-0 victory in that warm-up event proved to be a preview of the One-Pocket event finals on Thursday night, October 8, although the results were reversed.

In an odd turn of events, the number of players who signed on for the actual $600-added One-Pocket event that got started on Wednesday afternoon, was less than the number of players who'd played in the warm up the night before. Nevel and Putnam joined a field of only 12 players and after receiving byes in the opening round, were among the winners' side final four after a single victory; Nevel over Sam Monday 3-1 and Putnam over Cary Dunn 3-0.

Nevel moved into the hot seat match with a 3-2 win over Cliff Joyner, but Putnam moved west on the heels of a 3-2 win by Larry Price. Nevel made short work of Price, sending him to the semifinals 3-0.

Joyner and Putnam had their hands full on the one-loss side, as they were met immediately by Earl Strickland and Monday. Strickland had dropped both Dave Hunt and Dunn 3-1 to get to Joyner, as Monday was working his way through Jeff Abernathy 3-1 and Ray Vines 3-0. Having left the winners' side together, Putnam and Joyner survived their first matches on the one-loss side – Putnam 3-0 over Monday and Joyner 3-1 over Strickland – to face each other in the quarterfinals. Joyner got out to a 2-0 lead to be on the hill in that quarterfinal match before Putnam recovered, won three games in a row and turned to face Price in the semifinals. In a lengthy battle that coincided with the opening rounds of the 10-Ball event, Putnam won 3-1, and for the second time in 24 hours, he and Nevel were in a  One-Pocket final match.

In the race-to-five final matchup, Putnam was able to win the first game, and when Nevel made an unforced error on a high percentage shot in the second game, he ran four to go up 2-0. Nevel came back to take the third game. Tied at 7-7 in the fourth game, Putnam stared down a 4-ball sitting in Nevel's one pocket, with the cue ball resting on the first diamond of the opposite short rail. Putnam tried to force it out, off a rail, but the ball dropped into Nevel's pocket, knotting the match at 2-2. The two traded racks and then, Putnam reached the hill first. A four-ball run out in the eighth rack finished it, as Putnam avenged his warm up tournament defeat with a main event victory that earned him the $850 first place prize.

“I'm having a good week here,” said Putnam after the match, adding that he believes the key to his success was the attachment of a new ivory ferrule on his stick that he used first in a Southeast Open 9-Ball event in Savannah, GA last month.
“It made a big difference,” he said. “I feel like I've got my whole game back.”

He came to the event with no aspirations of winning it.

“I was playing for second,” he said. “As soon as I got here, I picked Larry to win this because he's such a good one-pocket player.”

The Carolina Open's 10-Ball tournament has proved to be the most heavily attended, with 28 entrants signed on for the $1,700-added event, which began on Thursday afternoon. By the time Putnam and Nevel played their final one-pocket  match, the winners' side field of the 10-Ball event had been reduced to 16. Nevel and Putnam were among them, as were Johnny Archer, Earl Strickland and Peaches Fuller, who'd pulled off a surprise 9-7 victory over Sam Monday. Fuller will meet Cary Dunn at 2 p.m. on Friday, October 9, as Archer takes on Dave Hunt, Putnam faces Steve Page and Nevel gets Mickey Hall.