Saturday, October 23, 2010

U.S. Open Grand Finale Today

Three-peat for the Iceman?

      Video from
Three-peat for Mika Immonen? That's the question for pool fans as the U.S. Open draws to its grand finale today in Chesapeake, Virginia. The Iceman from Finland, winner of both the 2008 and 2009 events, remains one of only two undefeated players. The other is former World 10-Ball champ Darren Appleton of England, who Immonen will play today in the hot seat match. The two remaining players on the one-loss side are Corey Deuel of the USA and Warren Kiamco of the Philippines.

"Of course, I'm thinking about it," Immonen told Nick Leider of Billiards Digest when asked about the possibility of winning the U.S. Open an unprecented three years in a row.

Immonen on BD Cover
The U.S. Open is one of the most prestigious pool tournaments in the world and the closet thing in the United States to a national pool championship. Promoter Barry Behrman began the 2010 extravaganza with a full field of 256 giant killers. The best players from the Philippines, Canada, Germany, the Czech Republic, Peru, Taiwan, Austria and many other countries all made the pilgrimage. Women also competed for the first time this year.

Immonen last year became only the second person in its 35-year-history to have won the tournament twice in a row. The first was Hall of Fame player Nick Varner, who accomplished the startling feat two decades earlier. If Immonen cements his third consecutive victory today, his record likely will stand for decades.

And at this late stage, Immonen certainly is considered the favorite. He's the most highly ranked player of the four left standing, and over the last two years has won just about every tournament there is to win. During his last game Friday he unceremoniously stomped Jason Klatt of Toronto by a score of 11-4. At one point, Immonen broke and ran six racks. Nonetheless, Corey Deuel, Warren Kiamco and Darren Appleton are all extremely dangerous. For instance Deuel, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, also stomped Klatt (11-1) during the last loser's side match Friday and earlier in the day eliminated Shane Van Boening. Deuel is now the last American in the field.

The only person to have beaten Deuel so far is Darren Appleton, who plays Immonen today for a spot in the final. Appleton also scored victories Friday over Efren Reyes, 11-5, and David Alcaide, 11-8, to inch within one game of the championship.

Warren Kiamco is the wild card. The only loss so far for the extremely dangerous player from Cebu, Philippines was his 11-10 heart-breaker to Corey Deuel. The two meet again at 1 p.m. (EST) where Kiamco will have his chance at revenge.

Django on BD Cover
The final is at 7 p.m..  Many fans appeared to be rooting Friday for Immonen, if for nothing else because he might make history. Said Cathy Jo Sawyer Almanza: "it's tough to pick a winner, but since three in row has never been done in this event, I'm hoping that Mika does it."

Newest HOF Inductees at U.S. Open 
Francisco Bustamante became the newest player inducted into the Billiard Congress Hall of Fame.  He received the honor Thursday during a banquet at the event. Also,Terry Bell and Larry Hubbart, founders of the American Poolplayers Association league system in 1979, were inducted in the Meritorious Service category.

Here's a quick bio of Bustamante, from the BCA website:

"Bustamante, nicknamed “Django” because of a resemblance to the lead character in a Western film of the same name, was born in the Philippine province of Tarlac. He began playing pocket billiards at 10-years-old, and began competing in the United States in the early 1990s. He hit his stride in the United States in 1997, winning two Camel Pro Billiard Tour events. He was named Billiards Digest’s and Pool & Billiard Magazine’s Player of the Year in 1998 after notching four major tournament wins, and he earned Billiards Digest’s and Inside Pool’s Player of the Year titles again in 2002, winning five major events in the U.S. and abroad, and finishing second at the World Pool Championship.

Bustamante finally garnered his first recognized world title in 2010, winning the WPA World 9-Ball Championship in Doha, Qatar. His strongest game is 9-ball, where his blockbuster break is legendary; although he is more than proficient at all the major games, as witnessed by his All-Around title at the 2008 Derby City Classic."

You can read Ted Lerne's great profile of Django online this month, at

Follow the action
Also check out Samm Diep's great coverage of Bustamante's induction ceremony, and highlights from Thursday, in her azbilliards report, above. You can find the tournament brackets at and watch the action live through the Accu-Stats pay-per-view webcast.  Here's the link. I'll also be occasionally updating the Pool History Facebook page with news from Chesapeake. You can check out the page here.

-- R.A. Dyer

No comments: