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IPT Open Kicks Off: U.K. Sizzles, U.S. Stumbles, Qualifiers Thrive
by Mason King Jul 24, 2006, 9:48 AM EST

The overwhelming success of shooters from the United Kingdom and several strong qualifiers are the big surprises from the first day of the history-making IPT North American 8-ball Open, now underway at the Venetian in Las Vegas.

Meanwhile, conventional-wisdom favorites such as Jose Parica, Mike Davis, Max Eberle, and Tony Robles were headed back to the drawing board, or at least a practice table, to ponder their early exits from the $2 million tournament.

But the biggest shocker was how incredibly well the contingent from the U.K. performed. Compatriots on the English 8-ball circuit (and relative unknowns elsewhere) Michael Hill, Darren Appleton and Carl Morris each went a perfect 4-0 in the first round of round-robin play, which featured 20 groups of five players each.

The second 100 competitors in the 200-player field will wage war today in their first-round matches. The top three players in each of the 40 groups advance to the next round; the eliminated players settle for a modest $2,000 each.

Here’s a brief wrap-up of the first day’s highlights:

• Of the 100 competitors in play Sunday, 12 finished with perfect 4-0 records, representing a wide array of nations: Michael Hill, Darren Appleton and Carl Morris of the U.K.; Americans Dennis Hatch, Steve Moore, Marco Marquez, and John Schmidt; Hungary’s Vilmos Foldes; Ralf Souquet of Germany; Canadian Luc Salvas; Filipino Antonio Lining; and Mexico’s Rafael Martinez.

Incredibly, Martinez, Moore and Marquez were among the 50 qualifiers for the event, beyond the 150 regular IPT members. And Foldes earned his spot in the event as Buddy Hall’s replacement, after the Hall-of-Famer bowed out of the Open.

• Some folks have to go, and there were several flame-outs from well-regarded American players: Robles (U.S.), 1-3; 2006 Derby City Classic Master of the Table winner Jason Miller (U.S.), 1-3; Max Eberle (U.S.), 1-3; Robb Saez (U.S.), 1-3; Tony Crosby (U.S.), 0-4; and Tommy Kennedy (U.S.), 2-2.

Filipinos are expected to perform well at the Open, but expatriate Parica struggled to a 1-3 record and an early exit.

• Snooker superstar and 8-ball neophyte Ronnie O’Sullivan (U.K.) squeaked into the next round with a 2-2 record.

• After losing his first two matches, Shawn “Bubba the Love Sponge” Putnam (U.S.) gutted out two victories to advance.

• Long-ago road player Michael Zimmerman (U.S.) emerged to win his group — a toughie that included Filipino Warren Kiamco and Keith McCready of the U.S. It was not clear initially whether McCready or Kiamco would advance, since both held 2-2 records and an identical games-won percentage.

Continuing coverage and complete results are available at www.internationalpooltour.com. Play continues through the final on Sunday, July 30.



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