PITTSBURGH, PA – Going in with three titles already to her name, South Korea’s Ga-Young Kim again proved her dominance at the latest edition of the WPBA US Open. Held on March 9-13, 2016 at Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Kim outlasted the forty-seven other contenders making up the field in one of the most prestigious titles in women’s professional pool.
However, the Open was not without its challenges for the #1 world-ranked Kim, who was also the #1-seeded player in the tournament. To start, Kim went into the event struggling with a stye in her left eye, and came up short in her opening match—with a hill-hill upset loss to veteran player Jeannie Seaver, to set her on a course through the one-loss bracket.
Despite a ten-year hiatus from the tour, Florida-based Seaver was in top form, and went on to defeat tour legend Ewa Laurance (9-5). In her following match-ups, Seaver would then be eliminated by two of the eventual semifinalists and toughest names on the tour: Line Kjorsvik and Monica Webb. This performance would land Seaver in the 5th-6th place position for her second-best career tour finish. Along with Seaver, former WPBA “Rookie of the Year” Emily Duddy also had a noteworthy showing, ending up tied for 7th-8th place, her career best finish on tour.
One of the tour’s notable European champions, Line Kjorsvik (of Trondheim, Norway) positioned herself in the semis in undefeated fashion after her 9-3 win over Seaver, to then be met by Ga-Young Kim. After her early loss to Seaver, Kim came back with a vengeance with seven match wins to make it to the semis.
Under the pressure of the ESPN lights and cameras, each semifinal featured two races to four games. If a given player were to win both races to four, they would proceed to the finale, while if each player won one set, a “sudden death” tiebreaker game would determine the match winner.
In the first semifinal, Kim stayed steady and stunned the crowd with impressive kick and jump shots, while Kjorsvik was not able to capitalize on her opportunities. The first set of the semi was a 4-0 shutout, while the second went to 2-2 before Kim closed out with a 4-2 win. For the title match, Ga-Young Kim would face a hungry Monica Webb, who had just come away from a harrowing win over Allison Fisher. Fisher, an eight-time US Open Champion and recent WPBA Masters Champion was the other player to enter the semifinal undefeated, with hopes of a second tour win in 2016.
However, Webb came out of the gate strong and put down a 4-1 win in their opening set. In the second set, Fisher turned things around to win 4-2, which forced the final “sudden-death” game to determine who moved on to the final. Although Webb had an open table to run out in final rack, she lost position on the six and was forced to play a safe. This successful play resulted in a foul from Fisher, and Webb ran out with ball in hand to take the set.
The finale of the 2016 WPBA US Open was then set to feature the two players who had earlier losses on their records, Kim and Webb. With the victory in sight, Ga-Young Kim had a deadly-focused demeanor, which was reflected in her end result. Kim did not allow Webb to win a single game in either of their two sets, as she ran away with matching 4-0 wins to secure the title. In total, Kim won ten straight games on her final run to victory, including the last two games of the semifinal.
For those in attendance at Rivers Casino and watching the live ESPN3 stream, another brilliant display was put on by Ga-Young Kim—which was particularly impressive under the difficult condition of her eye, as WPBA president and commentator Kim White-Newsome explained.
“Ga-Young’s performance was nothing short of amazing, since we all know, as players, the slightest of issues can affect not only our physical, but mental game as well. I believe her resilience is part of what makes her one of the greatest players in our sport,” said Newsome.
The WPBA Women’s Professional Billiard Association would like to give special thanks to its sponsors for their support of the 2016 US Open 9-Ball Championships: Aramith, Delta-13, Diamond Billiards, Rivers Casino, and Simonis Cloth.
1st: Ga-Young Kim – $7,500
2nd: Monica Webb – $4,500
3rd/4th: Allison Fisher, Line Kjorsvik – $2,750
5th-6th: Jeannie Seaver, Vivian Villarreal – $2,000
7th-8th: Kim Newsome, Emily Duddy – $1,750
9th-12th: June Maiers, Joanne Ashton, Melissa Little, Ewa Laurance – $1,500
13th-16th: Jennifer Barretta, Jessica Barnes, Helena Thornfeldt, Stacie Bourbeau – $1,250
17th-24th: Beth Fondell, Janet Atwell, Cheryl Pritchard, Sara Miller, Gail Eaton, Sandy Badger, Maureen Seto, Liz Cole – $1,000
25th-32nd: Erin McManus, Kia Sidbury, Kathy Friend, Laura Smith, Borana Andoni, Brittany Bryant, Vicki Paski, Dawn Fox – $750