US Open down to Final Four

Darren Appleton


Appleton & Pagulayan to meet in hot seat match; Hatch & Putnam in quarterfinals

The UK's Darren Appleton is two steps away from winning his second straight US Open 9-Ball title. At 1 p.m., on Saturday afternoon, he'll square off in the hot seat battle of the 36th annual US Open 9-Ball Championships against Alex Pagulayan, who'll be as determined to repeat his title victory in 2005. At the same time, Dennis Hatch and Shawn Putnam will square off in the quarterfinals.

The victor in the quarterfinal match (a race to 11, with winner needing to be ahead by two games, capped at a double hill 12-12) will meet the vanquished hot seat competitor at 3 p.m. in the event semifinals (same format). The finals (same format, except a race to 13, capped at a double-hill 14-14) are set to commence at 7:30 p.m. 

Among the winners' side final four, it was Pagulayan who arrived at that juncture with the highest winning percentage; a 66-20 record through six matches (76%). He squared off against Nevel, who arrived among the final four winners with the lowest percentage of the four; 58% (66-47). Shawn Putnam had the second best percentage – 70% (73-30) – and faced Appleton, who was third, with a 55-33 record (62%). Appleton defeated Putnam 11-7 on the Accu-Stat TV table, after which, at the same table, Pagulayan downed Nevel 11-7. Nevel, in a moment of frustration in that match, which, 10 minutes after it happened, appeared on YouTube, pounded his stick on the carpeted floor, breaking his shaft.

Ten or so minutes later, as Friday became Saturday, an hour later than originally scheduled, Putnam returned to the TV table, where he faced Huidji See, the reigning World 10-Ball Champion, who'd defeated Oscar Dominguez 11-7 and Kenichi Uchigaki 11-4 to reach him. Some 30 feet away, creating a split audience, Nevel met up with Dennis Hatch, who'd ended Johnny Archer's tournament bid 11-4 and then, in a double hill win, defeated Warren Kiamco, who'd sent him to the loss-side in the third, winners' side round.

Hatch took command early in his match against Nevel, and once he'd established a seven-point lead at 9-2, Nevel conceded the match with a frustrated sweep at the balls that ended the match instantaneously.  In the final match of the evening/early morning, Putnam and See, who'd been sent to the loss-side by the two players scheduled to meet in the hot seat match (Appleton and Pagulayan, respectively), fought back and forth on the TV table, through the early stages of their match, until Putnam pulled out in front to stay, finishing at 11-7. Putnam and Hatch will square off in a quarterfinal match at 1 p.m. on Saturday, which will run concurrently with the Accu-Stat TV table, hot seat match. Putnam will need to defeat Hatch to set up a potential re-match against Appleton, either in the semifinals or the finals, if Appleton gets in to the hot seat.