by Mike Panozzo Jul 19, 2003, 4:44 PM EST
Strickland moved into the semifinals with an impressive win over Ching-Shun Yang Saturday.
Showing none of the anger or angst that he’d displayed in his Friday night match against Steve Davis, "Gentleman Earl" Strickland kept his hopes of a successful title defense alive with an impressive 11-9 win over highly touted Ching-Shun Yang of Chinese Taipei Saturday afternoon at the 2003 empirepoker.com World Pool Championship in Cardiff, Wales.
Strickland was at his cordial best in Saturday’s quarterfinal tilt, even entering the arena with a bouquet of flowers for head referee Michaela Tabb in an apologetic gesture. Tabb had been the object of some Strickland venom during Friday night’s match, during which the volatile reigning world champ sparred with the pro-Davis fans.
Against Yang, Strickland’s focus never wavered, as he rolled to a shocking 7-1 and 8-2 advantages over the player many predicted would win the 2003 world crown. But some Strickland tightness, and Yang’s explosive game turned the tables. Yang pulled to within three games at 8-5, and two games at 9-7. At 10-8, Strickland missed, giving Yang another chance. Yang pulled to within a game, but scratched on the ensuing game. Strickland calmly negotiated the final rack to move into the semifinal Saturday night.
Incredibly, Strickland’s opponent will be Germany’s Thorsten Hohmann, who shocked 2002 finalist Francisco Bustamante, coming from a 10-6 deficit to win 11-10. Twice Bustamante was within four balls of clinching the match, only to make a glaring error to give the 24-year-old German new life. In the case rack, Bustamante left the 5 ball dangling in the jaws of the corner pocket. Hohmann, momentarily frozen in his chair, cleaned up the resulting mess to leave the slack-jawed Filipino sitting in stunned disbelief. So distraught was the 39-year-old Bustamante, he snapped the shaft of his cue over his knee on his way out of the arena.
Also on Saturday afternoon, Maltese snooker pro Tony Drago continued his improbably run at the world championship with an 11-8 win over mistake-plagued Hui-Kai Hsia, and Alex Pagulayan of Canada received more help from the referees to seal an 11-9 win over Shin-Young Park of Korea. At 10-9, Pagulayan missed a shot, but was awarded a re-shoot by the match referee because a child had sprinted directly behing him during his shot. In his previous match, Pagulayan got ball-in-hand in the case game against Rodney Morris when the referee called a foul on Morris for resting his cue on the table and removing his hand from the cue butt.
For complete Group standings, and Final 64 pairings, visit: http://www.worldpoolchampionship.com/results.asp
Hohmann's comeback shocked Bustamante, and Cardiff.
Tournament NotesCardiff Insider
by Gary Baker
* WORLD Championships senior referee Michaela Tabb is going to consult her lawyers after she was given severence from her other cue sport role.
Tabb, of Scotland, has gone through her examinations and was a referee on the World Snooker tour.
But, on Friday, she went to a meeting of that sport’s governing body and was told that she was one of two referees - the other a man - that had lost their jobs because of cutbacks.
Tabb is furious about being paid off and said: "I'm going to talk to my lawyers and could take legal action against them (the World Snooker Association)."
It is believed that she earned UKpounds25,000 a year from her winter role.
* ANYONE who had a bet on Thorsten Hohmann before the championships could be laughing all the way to the bank if he manages to win the tournament.
German Hohmann was a massive outsider before the championships started (some bookies listed him as high as 100-1!), but after progressing through to the semi-finals, there is a chance he could manage to lift the trophy on Sunday night.
Hohmann caused a major shock again by beating Philippines' Francisco Bustamante - Busta beat Efren Reyes on Friday in the last 32 - in a final rack shoot-out 11-10 on Saturday.