Putnam wins prelude to Carolina Open

Doug Ennis (T.D.), Shawn Putnam, B. J. Ussery, and Jamie Frowein (Asst Manager)

On the weekend of October 2-4, Fast Eddie's in Goldsboro, NC played host to a field of 19 players for a $2,000-added event on the Jacoby Custom Cues Carolina Tour. A handful of those players were there to utilize the tour's regularly scheduled stop as something of a warm-up event for the Carolina Open, set to begin with a Warm-Up tournament of its own on Monday, October 5.

Shawn Putnam was among that handful, and staved off a strong one-loss side challenge by B.J. Ussery to go undefeated on the weekend. Also on hand for the event were Larry Nevel, Earl Strickland, Eddie Little, Jeff Abernathy and Sam Monday, all of whom were working from the one-loss side, by the time Putnam was working his way to the hot seat from among the winners' side final four. Putnam sent Keith Bennett west 7-5 to get into the hot seat match Delton Howard, who'd sent Cary Dunn over by the same score. Putnam sent Howard to the semifinals and awaited the return of Ussery, whom he'd sent to the one-loss side originally when the two were among the winners' side's final eight.

Ussery battled through five opponents to get into the finals versus Putnam, defeating both Mac Harrell and Jeff Abernathy 7-1 for the right to meet Dunn coming out of the winners' side final four. It was Earl “The Pearl” Strickland waiting for Bennett, after getting by both Nevel and Little 7-4. Bennett and Ussery met in the quarterfinals after Bennett dropped Strickland into the tie for fifth place 7-3 and Ussery completed a run of three games, in which he'd given up only four racks, with a 7-2 win over Dunn. Things got a little tighter in those quarterfinals, as Bennett fought to stay in, but Ussery prevailed 7-5 to meet Howard in the semifinals.

At this point, Ussery had his hands full, too. He and Howard battled back and forth, with Ussery reaching the hill first and Howard knotting things for a final game. Ussery had two of the three fouls necessary to declare a win in the final game and had an opportunity to force the third foul. He opted, instead, for making a ball that started his runout to the win.

It looked, at first, as though Ussery was going to take the momentum he'd gained through five matches on the one-loss side into the final, as he won the opening rack. Putnam won the next six in a row to put the momentum on his side. He scratched breaking the next rack, though, allowing Ussery to run out and then sink the 9 on the subsequent break and it was 6-3. Ussery missed a 2-9 combination that gave Putnam the 10th rack, but came right back with two racks to narrow the lead to two at 7-5. Ussery sunk a ball on the next break, but hung the 1-ball on the edge of a pocket that opened the door's for a Putnam run-out that made it 8-5. Putnam returned the favor, hanging the 4-ball in the next rack. Ussery ran out and it was 8-6. Safety play dominated the 15th and final rack and Putnam finished it to take home the first place prize.

A 16-entrant Early Bird tournament on Friday night saw Larry Nevel take home the $150, first place prize, with a 7-3 finals win over Shane Winters, who pocketed $90 for second place. Jeff Abernathy finished third ($50) and Delton Howard finished fourth ($30). Nevel also won Sunday night's Second Chance tournament with a shutout over Sean Frowein. Heather Thompson defeated Jamie Frowein in a hill-hill final in the Ladies event and Dylan Letchworth was awarded the Amateur title for the weekend. Roger Harper picked up a Jacoby Custom Cue, valued at $850, in the event's raffle.

The $10,000-added Carolina Open, featuring a $2,500-added One Pocket Tournament and a $7,500-added 10-Ball Tournament will commence at 7 p.m. on Monday, October 5 with a $250-added Warm Up Tournament. Hosted by Fast Eddie's in Goldsboro, the One Pocket Tournament will begin on Tuesday, October 6 and finish on Thursday night, October 8. The 10-Ball Tournament will get underway on Thursday afternoon and proceed through the weekend. Look for updates on the events here throughout the week.