Mount St. Earl Erupts, Wins!
by Mike Panozzo Jul 19, 2003, 8:32 AM EST
It was vintage Strickland friday night in Cardiff.
The roof almost came off Cardiff International Arena Friday night. And that was before Earl Strickland and Steve Davis even took the table for their highly anticipated match-up in the final 16 of the 2003 World Pool Championship. In a pre-match television interview, Strickland responded angrily to what he perceived to be a lack of respect from local fans with a tirade aired live throughout the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Asia.
"Iím alone out here," Strickland said. "The people booed me when they were practicing the introductions. Thatís disrespectful. I donít care that Iím playing a national hero. I donít care if Iím playing a Martian, I deserve respect. Also, this tournament revolves around Steve Davis. But if thatís the way they want it, so be it."
Not surprisingly, the marquee match-up was volatile from the get-go, with Strickland continuously with the crowd, and even match referee Michaela Tabb. At one point, trailing 5-3, Strickland responded angrily to Tabbís suggestion that he quiet down by telling her, "You shut up." Davis promptly walked out of the arena.
"I wanted to let things settle down," admitted the six-time world snooker champion.
Eventually, the match did settle down, and Davis and Strickland treated the sell-out crowd to a brilliant 9-ball session that ended with Davis missing an easy shot and Strickland posting a wild 11-9 victory.
The match ebbed and flowed, with Strickland running through three straight racks for a 3-1 lead, only to see Davis respond win four racks for a 5-3 advantage. Strickland again pulled two games ahead, at 7-5, and appeared to be in control.
"I played a terrible bank at 7-5, when I should have ducked," Strickland said.
The misplay again cost Strickland, with Davis rattling off three racks for an 8-7 lead. After coming up empty on the ensuing break, Davis watched helplessly as Strickland ran two perfect racks for a 9-8 lead. Strickland returned the favor by scratching on the break, and Davis made the match a race-to-two by running out for a 9-9 tie.
With no shot at the 1, Davis looked the table over with an expression that said, "I wish I knew more about this game." Strickland quickly conceded Davisís push-out, and Davis opened the table with his safety attempt. Strickland ran out to reach the hill, then studied a relatively easy table layout in the final game.
But the defending world champ admittedly "over-amped" moving from the 3 ball to the 4. After a splendid recovery, Strickland missed the 5 in the top corner pocket while bridging over the 7. Davis raced to the table, poised to steal the match.
"I thought I was done from there," admitted Strickland.
Incredibly, using the mechanical bridge, Davis rattled the 5 in the jaws of the same corner pocket, prompting the emotional Strickland to leap from his chair, strike a Tarzan pose and proclaim to the crowd, "He dogged it!"
"Iíd never seen Steve Davis dog it," Strickland rationalized. "I couldnít believe it."
Strickland quickly cleaned up the rack to move into what should be an even more high-powered match against Taiwanís Ching-Shun Yang in Saturdayís quarterfinal.
In Friday eveningís other matches, talented young Hua-Kai Hsia destroyed Swedenís Marcus Chamat, 11-4, and 24-year-old German Thorsten Hohmann continued his improbable run with an impressive 11-6 win over Canadian speedster Luc Salvas.
Nothing in Cardiff, however, has been more improbable than 38-year-old snooker pro Tony Dragoís advancement into the final eight. The lightening-fast Maltese shooter outlasted mistake-prone Young-Hwa Joeng, 11-9.
In Saturdayís other action, Alex Pagulayan will meet Korean Shin-Young Park, Hohmann meets Francisco Bustamante, and Drago will take on Hsia.
For complete Group standings, and Final 64 pairings, visit: http://www.worldpoolchampionship.com/results.asp
Tournament NotesCardiff Insider
by Gary Baker
* EARL Strickland threatened to quit the tournament tonight as he stormed out of Cardiff International Arena.
The reigning world champion was practicing for his match on Friday evening against Steve Davis and had just finished when the abuse happened.
He was walking out of the arena to the hotel over the road when people started booing him. It was disgraceful behavior from the so-called 'fans' of pool and it did not go unnoticed by The Pearl.
The reigning world champion marched out of the venue with his cues in tow, shouting: "I'm not coming back here again." He probably would not have arrived at the Cardiff International Arena again but for the fact that he had a match to play.
Davis, looking stern, later walked over the road to prepare for his match - watched by a crowd of people who were had arrived for an engagement party there, complete with FIVE stretched limos!
Suffice to say, the six times world snooker champion did not stop for autographs.
* MANILA came to a standstill today as half the country stopped in their tracks to watch Efren Reyes lose 11-8 to Francisco Bustamante.
Official viewing figures for the ESPN Star channel were not being released until later, but shots were shown of one bar in the Philippines capital which was 300 people deep, wall-to-wall watching eight screens and cheering for either Reyes or Bustamante on each shot.
* REIGNING world snooker champion Mark Williams may enjoy the limelight of the big occasion, as he did in the World Pool Championships this week.
However, the man who has millions of pounds in the bank was back watching his other cue sport on Thursday night in a much smaller place that the CIA.
Williams spends some of his evenings at a secret hideaway where he can relax and have a few practice games.
Nobody knows where it is, but it is in fact the Tredegar Conservative Club in Newport, 12 miles away from his home in Cardiff, where he enduges in his other past time - cribbage.
* MALTA'S Tony Drago has made a great impression on this year's championship, having spent a number of years entering the tournament but not getting very far.
Snooker player Drago, though, suffered a case of break-itis tonight during his last 16 match against Young-Hwa Jeong of Korea, an 11-9 win.
Amazingly, Drago took a 5-3 lead on Jeong without making one ball on the breaks he had.
When, in the next rack, he managed to put one down off the first shot, he threw his arms in the air in celebration.
* CANADIAN Paul Potier has flown back to Vanccouver after exiting the championships, but not without a word or two about the way that some people have not taken the tournament seriously.
And he pointed the finger at Britain's reigning snooker champion Mark Williams.
The 49-year-old, twice a national champion in Canada, hit out at the 'invites' who can cost the men who play the game for a living hard cash.
Williams has millions of UK pounds sterling in the bank, drives a Ferrari and has more cars in the driveway of his new house just ten minutes from the Cardiff venue.
So $1,500 - the prize he got for losing in the last 64 - is just a week's gas money for him.
But for someone like Potier, it is very important.
The Canadian missed out on qualification through to the knockout stages because Williams sneaked in ahead of him and he was not happy, given that the snooker player said he was just 'playing for fun' and nothing else.
Potier, who stressed it was not a case of sour grapes because he had gone out, angrily said: "I think the tournament directors should think again about allowing these invites in if they don't take the game seriously.
"It is not fair on us who come over here and look to win the world championships of our sport. Someone like Steve Davis is fair enough because he is playing the game properly but, when they don't, why are they here? It is not as if someone like Mark Williams needs the money."