Do or Fly: Last U.S. Qualifier for IPT Brings 78 Players

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It’s gut-check time in the world of pro pool as 78 players prepare to fight it out in the last U.S. qualifier for the International Pool Tour, held this weekend at Country Club Billiards in Boston.

Only four more spots are open on the 150-player tour for the 2006 season, and two will be awarded in Boston. The final qualifier is scheduled March 10-12 at House of Billiards Weert in The Netherlands.

Back for another shot at the open slots are such major names as Chia-Ching Wu, the current WPA world 8-ball and 9-ball champ; Europeans Thomas Engert, Vilmos Foldes, and Imran Majid; and Americans George Breedlove, Robb Saez and Frankie Hernandez. Also in the running are Filipinos Santos Sambajon, Warren Kiamco and Ramil Gallego.

Several of these players are making their third or fourth try at the multimillion-dollar tour. Almost every player paid a $2,000 entry fee for the event, with the exception of a few high finishers from earlier qualifiers who earned free passes.

The IPT’s first major 2006 event — the North American 8-Ball Open Championship — is scheduled for July 22-30 at the Venetian in Las Vegas. The purse is set at $2 million, and the top finisher will receive $350,000.

This is the second IPT qualifier in as many weekends. Germany’s Oliver Ortmann and Filipino Dennis Orcollo were the top finishers at the qualifier held Feb. 17-19 at Hard Times Billiards in Bellflower, Calif.

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