"Yikes!" or "Whew...": IPT North American Groupings Announced
by Mason King Jul 14, 2006, 9:44 AM EST
Several top pool pros won’t be sleeping too soundly for the next week, now that they know the identities of their opponents in the first round of the International Pool Tour’s North American 8-Ball Open Championship.
Among those who might have trouble catching some “zees” are Karen Corr, Cory Deuel, Charles “Hillbilly” Bryant, and Kim Davenport. On the other hand, Allison Fisher and 13-year-old Austin Murphy look to be pretty well rested.
The $2 million, 200-player event — with a $350,000 first-place prize — kicks off Sunday, July 23, at the Venetian in Las Vegas, Nev.
The IPT announced the first-round groupings — composed of 40 sets of five players each — on Thursday. After round-robin play, the top three finishers in each group will proceed to the next round. Eliminated players from the first round will each receive $2,000.
The complete list of groupings is available at the IPT Web site: www.internationalpooltour.com.
However, we’ll point out a few of the more remarkable first-round matchups to get the inevitable debate and buzz started. In no particular order:
Group 20 — International Incident
A big-time pro is going home with $2,000 — and the lonely, agonizing plane ride could be transcontinental. The round’s toughest group is topped by former world 9-ball champions Mika Immonen (Finland) and Oliver Ortmann (Germany). They’re closely followed by tough-as-nails American Charles “Hillbilly” Bryant and the wily Gandy Valle from the Philippines. If “Gentleman” Jim Raney (USA) can make it out of this group, he deserves a $10,000 bonus.
Group 14 — Cakewalk
It’s dangerous to call any group a “gimme,” because there are so many relatively unknown international players in the IPT. You can bet there will be several surprises along the way. But Brit snooker and 9-ball ace Allison Fisher looks like a lock to get past group 14, populated by middling and/or obscure players Grady Matthews (USA), Andreja Klasovic (Serbia/Montenegro), Marko Lohtander (Finland), and Jeff Abernathy (USA).
Group 32 — Dogfight of the Sleepers
Fans might not know all these names, but one or two of these guys are sure to be around late in the event. The group features rough road player Steve Moore (USA), 2006 Derby City Master of the Table winner Jason Miller (USA), resurgent 9-ball pro Kim Davenport (USA), and Canadian aces Paul Potier and Tyler Edey.
Group 18 — Bloodbath
A top player is going to go down here. This one looks like the semifinals roster from a Reno Open, with multitalented Shannon Daulton (USA) facing off against Canadian stalwart (and, coincidently, 2005 Reno Open winner) Ronnie Wiseman, former BD Player of the Year Cory Deuel (USA), Chicago 8-ball machine Ike Runnels, and sneaky veteran Pete Fusco (USA).
Group 2 — No Rest for the Invader
Ireland’s Karen Corr will have her work cut out for her against Holland’s top pro Niels Feijen, China’s no-nonsense Wei-Liu, underrated 8-baller Greg Hogue (USA) and Hall-of-Famer Ray Martin. But Corr went 4-1 in the first round of December’s IPT King of the Hill event, so look for her to pass with honors.
Group 5 — Let’s go, Austin!
Okay, we’re (unofficially) rooting for 13-year-old Austin Murphy, who is no slouch, by the way. He just won his second consecutive title at the BCA Junior Nationals, and he can hold his own against the big guys. He has an excellent chance to get out of his first-round group, where he will face Danny Basavich (USA), Hall-of-Famer Ewa Laurance (USA), and little-known qualifiers Sam Monday (USA) and Anthony Ginn (England).