Darren Appleton was unable to defend his US Open 9-Ball Championship title this week, losing to both the eventual runner-up and the third-placed finisher.
Appleton was bidding to become the first player to ever win three consecutive US Open titles and an 11-1 win in the second round against Don Steele seemed to be heading him in the right direction. He went on to secure victory against Alex Olinger, but the breaks were already starting to come off and he was soon defeated in Round C1 to Efren Reyes, albeit by a slender 10-11 defeat.
Unphased, Appleton moved to the losing bracket and continued laying waste to some of the other stragglers, defeating Hao Xiang Han, Oscar Dominguez, Earl Strickland and Corey Deuel in quick succession. By the time he had finished off E2 loser Johnny Archer, Appleton was building up enough speed to send him into the finals bracket. Unfortunately, he was cut short by Dennis Orcollo, denying him an eventual rematch with Reyes.
Both Jayson Shaw and Chris Melling had a more successful opening stint by virtue of having to play less talented players. Also receiving a bye to the second match, Melling saw off Craig Osborne, Zion Zvi and Hunter Lombardo before he was crushed 11-4 by eventual winner Shane Van Boening in front of his home crowd. Having been agonisingly close to the final, he went on to lose a second consecutive game match to Yukio Akagariyama, sending him out of the competition. Shaw went one further, having to struggle in the first round against Salah Al-Rimawi. He made lighter work of Josh Newman, Mike Fuller and Jason Klatt before being the other Brit to defeat Deuel this week. A close 11-10 match against Jose Parica saw Shaw drop into the lower bracket where he too lose two matches in a row, knocked out by Jun Lin Chang.
Former 9-ball champion Daryl Peach won early matches against Larry Kressel, Peter Panapoulos and Ralph Ekert before losing to Alex Pagulayan 11-10. He was able to sustain his run a little longer, beating Phil Burford 11-5 but was stopped by Akagariyama, shortly before he went on to defeat Melling. The British contingent was rounded off by Karl Boyes and Mark Gray, who both came up short early on in the losing bracket. Even so, it was a fairly successful competition for our pool players, with Appleton and Shaw earning $5,000 between them.