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Owen Tops in One-Pocket, Race for Master of the Table
Jan 12, 2008, 3:41 AM

With three players left in the one-pocket division at Derby City, Gabe Owen got the free pass into the final match, courtesy of the redraw. Luck must've been on his side.

"I felt like, even though I caught the bye, I still felt like I might have deserved it a little bit, because I was catching some brutal draws here," Owen said. "Five rounds in a row here, I was playing a top player."

His path to that lucky draw was littered with the top one-pocket talent in Louisville. Thursday, Owen beat Francisco Bustamante, Cliff Joyner, Scott Frost and Larry Nevel. His reward? Efren Reyes on Friday.

Against Reyes, Owen kept Reyes from the stack, trying to keep moving on the Filipino legend who has won the event four straight years. The strategy paid off as Owen took three straight racks after dropping the opener for a 3-1 upset victory.

In the semifinal, Nevel powered past an uncharacteristically loose Bustamante, 3-0. Since Owen still had the buy-back option, Nevel went into the final knowing he had to beat Owen twice.

A defensive-minded Owen grinded out his racks, staying patient and keeping Nevel from any scoring chances.

"I play him tight, as you can see how dangerous he is," Owen said of his opponent. "Look at him, he banks them in from anywhere,. I gotta just squeze him, squeeze him, squeeze him."

And a few minutes under three hours after the lag, Owen polished off his undefeated run through the one-pocket division with a 3-2 win. With the win, Owen jumped ahead in the running for the Master of the Table award, worth $20,000.

Owen leads all players with 141.3 points. Also, he is still alive in the 9-ball division, though lost his fifth-round match with Tony Crosby.

The 9-ball division will continue through Saturday, wrapping up in the late evening. At the end of play on Thursday night, approximately 50 players are still alive, though an exact number is not known with players still able to buy back.

The top five in points are:
1. Gabe Owen 141.3
2. Larry Nevel 128
3. Francisco Bustamante 116.7
4. Sylver Ochoa 105
5. Alex Pagulayan 96.4