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Deuel Ices U.S. Open Title With 11-0 Shutout
2001 U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships • Sept. 16, 2001 • Chesapeake, Va.
The 2001 U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship will forever be remembered for the multiple controversies surrounding the event. On the first day of play, topics like the Sardo Rack, soft break and surety of “guaranteed” prize money dominated conversation.
The next day was Tuesday, September 11.
(Click above to view the last rack of the match
Video provided by Accu-Stats Video Productions)
As a TV set tuned to CNN broadcast the carnage and suffering of the terrorist attacks, the early-round matches continued uninterrupted. Apparently, the U.S. Open was the only major professional sports event that continued uninterrupted in the wake of the national tragedy.
Then, because of the dearth of spectators willing or able to get to the Chesapeake Conference Center for the later rounds, the $72,000 in guaranteed-added money was cut in half. Overall, prize payouts fell by 20 percent.
The only things that seemed cut and dry were Corey Deuel’s ingenuity and excellence. The 23-year-old kid from Ohio perfected a sliding cut break that routinely pocketed the wing ball and left a shot on the 1 ball. The remaining balls all remained south of the center string, effectively cutting the table in half.
Deuel won the lag and opened the final with that trademark break, gently busting up the rack, with the cue ball floating up to the middle of the table. On the way to the 7 ball, though, Deuel created a problem for himself.
“I was running out, and I shot the 5 and hooked myself on the 7,” Deuel said. “The 7 and 9 were sitting near the spot. They were sitting in such a way that if I went upstairs and kicked at it, then I had a chance to make the 9.”
Deuel went for the long kick, hammering the cue ball off the headrail and back down toward the 7-9 cluster. The 7 dropped in one corner, followed by the 9 in the other corner pocket.
After the scintillating shot, Deuel took his break — yes, just one rack into the final — giving Immonen some extra time to replay the unlikely game-winner in his mind.
“I think that first game was really big,” Deuel said after the match. “Mentally, I might have got him.”
From that point, Deuel continued to roll, collecting rack after rack while Immonen struggled to get on the scoreboard.
“He just got off so strong, and it was like 5-0 before I got a legitimate shot,” Immonen said. “I’m still supposed to perform, but I don’t know what happened. At the end, I was just scared.”
This great final match was only greatly enjoyable for one man, as Deuel kept Immonen at zero while he inched closer and closer to 11.
“The whole time, if I was up six-nothing, I was like, ‘Oh no, don’t be up six-nothing and lose,’ and, ‘Don’t be up seven-nothing and lose,’” Deuel joked.
Deuel finally went up 11-0, completing the first final-match shutout in the 26-year history of the U.S. Open.
“Everything was going his way,” Immonen said. “In the end I just wanted to get one point.”
Immonen, who had won the World Pool Championship just months before the nightmare in Chesapeake, might have let the idea of winning two majors in the same year faze him.
“It would have been a crazy dream-come-true to win the U.S. Open and the World Championship,” he said. “I wasn’t actually thinking of it, but some people reminded me of it. Maybe it was too much pressure.”
But the anxiety inside the Chesapeake Conference Center was the story of the 2001 U.S. Open, whether it be over the trivial, like racks and breaks, or the historical, like the tragedy of September 11th.
Deuel proved that pool was, for him, an escape from the chaos of the outside world.
“When I’m playing pool, I’m in my own world,” he said. “After the matches and before, I was glued to the TV. I couldn’t believe it.”
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