Souquet Escapes to Win in Aruba

Ralf Souquet has won the IBC World Tour 9-Ball event on the Caribbean island of Aruba. The final match between Souquet and Terukazu Mukai of Japan saw Souquet take an early 4-0 lead in the race to eleven final only to see that lead deteriorate to a double-hill position.

When Mukai pocketed three balls on the final break (and left a six-ball roadmap of an out) all Souquet had left was hope. Mukai had handled tables like this one with ease all week. But he got out of line early in the rack and finally found himself with a long straight-in shot on the eight ball that required either a strong draw shot back down the table to get in line for the nine, or a stop shot to settle for a bank on the final ball.

Mukai had been firing in bank shots all week. Pool coach Bert Kinister remarked: "You won't see him draw this. I haven't seen him miss a bank all week." Mukai knew the pockets were not welcoming slam shots. So he played the more conservative stop and lined up for what would be his tournament-winning cross-side bank.

The nine was off by more than a ball as it collided with the second rail. When the rolling ended Souquet contained his adrenaline and hit the center of the pocket with his final cut into the side. Souquet's remark after rising from the dead? "It ain't over till the fat lady sings!"

This was a popular stop with the players, due in large part because it was conducted at the Wyndham Casino & Resort in Aruba, the southernmost island in the Antilles. Aruba views pocket billiards as another facet in island tourism and actively seeks to draw visitors from the millions of enthusiasts worldwide. Available on the island are tables for pool, snooker and three-cushion billiards. Active tourists now arrive by air or cruise ship to the possibilities of morning golf, afternoon billiards and evenings at the blackjack tables or in one of the many clubs. These combinations, along with resorts and water sports, create a series of opportunities unique to Aruba.