McCready Rocks and Rhee Rolls on the Falcon Cue Tour
By Andy Lincoln
The Falcon Cue 9-Ball Tour returned to First Break Café in Sterling, VA on September 27-28, 2003, for Stop #13. First Break Café and Falcon Cues combined to add $2,000 to the prize fund. There were 50 open entrants on Saturday, with 19 ladies showing up for their Sunday event.
The excitement started out early Saturday morning as rumors that InsidePOOL’s 2002 Player of The Year, Francisco Bustamante, was in town for the Baltimore ESPN Zone Sudden Death 7-Ball event and was scheduled to play the Falcon event. Most of the tour regulars were also entered, and Kevin West was the first to fall victim to Bustamante. The top pro then cruised through Leo McDaniel and Ryan McCreesh before escaping with a 9-8 gift on an unfortunate 9 ball scratch from points leader Mike Davis. Also making it to Sunday unscathed were tour regulars Jim Henson and Keith McCready, who were joined by newcomer Chad Short.
Sunday began with McCready storming over Short 9-2 and Henson scoring a thrilling win over Bustamante 9-5. Unfazed by Henson’s accomplishment, McCready took the hot seat with a solid 9-5 performance. The one-loss side provided some exciting matches as the crowd looked for an underdog to take down Bustamante. Doug Sharp was coming off a string of four solid wins but fell short, as did Mike Davis, who settled for fourth. This set up a rematch between the National Amateur Champion Henson and top-ranked professional Bustamante. This time it would be the focused Bustamante posting a strong 7-2 win to exact his revenge.
First Break Café is set up very well for watching matches, with a raised area that quickly filled for the finals. Bustamante needed to beat the flamboyant McCready twice in the true double-elimination format. A Falcon Tour record crowd of just over 100 players and supporters gathered to take in the action. The score remained close until McCready took a 3-4 deficit and turned it into a 7-4 lead with some flawless execution. After that 9 ball fell, McCready exclaimed, “There’s always time for a good flashback!” Bustamante sat quietly in his chair waiting for an opportunity, which finally came. He made the most of it by stringing together three racks, including the shot of the tournament. Faced with a position zone of about 4 inches, Bustamante made a severe cut on the 3 ball into the corner and zigzagged the cue ball three rails through traffic for perfect shape on the 4 ball. The audience erupted, and he continued the run out to tie the score at 7-7 in the race to 9. The comeback was shut down as McCready took the next two games for his third Falcon Cue Tour 2003 title. First place paid an even $1,000, with $650 for second.
After the event, McCready said, “Now that I have a good shaft with enough forward balance, I am starting to gain more confidence, and my game is starting to look like it did years ago. Having the right tools has always been very important to me, and my accuracy rate is getting sharper. What a difference a good shaft makes!
The women’s division on Sunday saw 19 ladies compete alongside the exciting open matches. Amanda Smith continued to play strong and reached the hot seat match against tour favorite Sueyen Rhee. Smith took this match 7-5 over Rhee. Pauline Mattes recovered from a first-round loss to win four matches, including a payback win over Suzy Mankin, placing her into a personal best fifth. Tracy Figueroa defeated Mattes, who settled for fourth before falling to a re-energized Rhee 5-1. The final started out all Rhee as she raced out to a 6-0 lead. Smith won a couple games before Rhee closed out at 7-2. Smith refocused and came out strong in the second set, taking an early lead, but it was Rhee who came through once again for a 7-4 win.
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