Shuff and Strickland share title on Action Pool Tour Warm-Up to US Open

In a truly last-minute warm up to the US Open, already underway in Chesapeake, VA, Earl Strickland and Brandon Shuff were to have squared off in the finals of a stop on the Action Pool Tour on Saturday, October 16. They opted to share the event title, and split the first and second place winnings. At stake in the event, as well, was a free entry to the US Open, which was slated to go to the highest placed finisher in this event, not already entered in the Open. That privilege went to tour director Ozzy Reynolds, who, in a 7th/8th place battle defeated John Newton. The Warm-Up event drew 45 entrants to Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA, including a host of notables who would leave the event, bound for the US Open – Strickland, Shuff, Mike Davis, Carey Dunn, Shaun Wilkie, Dave Hunt, and Larry Kressel among them.

It was Shuff advancing to the hot seat in this event. After receiving a bye in the opening round, Shuff went on to defeat Mat LeMire, Carey Dunn, and John Newton to join and face Strickland for the first time among the winners' side final four. Strickland had just sent Reynolds west 9-7. The other two among the final four winners were Wilkie and Dave Hunt. Hunt had opened the tournament with three matches in which he'd chalked up an aggregate score of 27-2, and then won two straight double hill matches, against Larry Kressel, among the final eight winners, and then, Wilkie, among the final four, for the right to face Shuff in the hot seat match. Shuff had just sent Strickland west double hill. Shuff played his final match, sending Hunt to the semifinals.

On the loss-side, Reynolds, having been sent over by Strickland, defeated Jeremy Perkins 9-4, and earned his free entry to the US Open with a double hill win over John Newton, which set him up to face Wilkie. Strickland met up with Larry Kressel, who'd defeated Scott Kessler 9-6 and Danny Mastermaker 9-3 to reach him. Wilkie defeated Reynolds 9-7 to get into the quarterfinals, where he was joined by Strickland, who'd downed Kressel 9-3.

Strickland then defeated Wilkie in the quarterfinals and Hunt in the semifinals by the same 9-4 score. At that point, Strickland and Shuff opted to forego playing a final match, and share both the event title and first and second place prize money.