The Villages, Florida- There were numerous highlights where each pro shined, but it was the stellar play of Buddy “Rifleman” Hall and Ewa “Striking Viking” Mataya Laurance that beat out their esteemed peers for The Legends of Pool Championship. Six legends of pool reunited after 25 years, and day 3 didn’t fail to please the full house audiences of the 3rd Annual Florida Billiards Expo at The Villages, Florida.
The Legends of Pool & The Florida Billiards Expo are sponsored by Fross & Fross Wealth Management, Rasson Billiards, Arden’s Fine Jewelers, Andy Cloth, Quantum Vitality Centers, Aramith Balls, Pool & Billiard Magazine, Taom Tips and Viking Cue. Sponsorships are still available. The events are produced by the Villages Billiards Club and Dragon Promotions. Event marketing and promotions by Orlando Synergy.
Buddy Hall continued his undefeated momentum from Day 1 with a 5-3 win in the singles against Ray Martin. Hall got an early lead at 4-1, but Martin fought back to get within 1 game at 3-4 before a final break and run by Hall.
“I’ve never beaten Buddy in the finals of any tournament. I beat him plenty of times on the winners side, and then he would always come back and beat me in the finals”, Ray stated even during the match.
Next the fans were in for a treat with a 6-handed Ring Game between all the legends. Once again, it would be the Rifleman Buddy Hall taking the first game that set the tone for the entire ring game. Martin and Rempe were winless in 7 games in a row and were eliminated in game 7 with a Buddy Hall runout. This left Buddy as the lone male with all 3 lady legends still alive. JoAnn Mason Parker was eliminated shortly after with Ewa and LoreeJon trading racks to hold on. In an all in situation down to her last barrel, LoreeJon won that game and kept herself alive. Ewa found herself in the same predicament next but was eliminated. LoreeJon hanged tough after a fortunate miss on the 9-ball by Hall, but Buddy was too far ahead in barrels and cash that LoreeJon succumbed in game # 12. The Rifleman had proven once again why he is one of the all time greatest money players in history.
“A 5 handed ring game is perfect. 8 would be a lot. But 6 works just fine”, said Buddy before the match began. Guess he knew what he was talking about!
Next the pros took a break and fans were able to enjoy a well organized brunch with their heroes. After that, they were treated to a live music show in the arena.
The evening session started with a highly anticipated showdown between LoreeJon Hasson vs Ewa Laurance. The two rivals had not played against one another in 15 years. The arena was at full capacity for this one. And you could hear a pin drop.
“It’s all fun and games before, but now this was a match I wasn’t going to miss”, said Mitch Laurance, famed ESPN billiards analyst and golf host who is married to Ewa.
“Neither one of them wants to lose this match”, said Dave Hasson, Loree Jon’s husband.
Unfortunately there had to be a winner. Ewa came out strong just as she did in her whitewash of JoAnn. Within 20 minutes, Ewa held a 4-0 lead and only needed one game more to have a perfect 10-0 game record in both her singles matches. But Loree Jon the “Queen of the Hill” lived up to her nickname and fought back in 3 straight games and now we had a real match.
But a costly position error gave Ewa a final opening and she took advantage of it with a runout to seal the victory over her longtime nemesis 5-3.
“LoreeJon is a fighter. She never gives up. That’s what all these champions have in common”, said Rempe.
“Ewa has a heart as big as the world in competition”, LoreeJon had stated before the match.
Next was the final singles match of the event with Hall vs Rempe. Both players recalled the last time they had played, incredibly, which was 17 years ago. Rempe made too many unforced errors, while Hall played precise and consistent. Buddy cruised to a 5-2 victory and locked himself up for 1st place in the event.
The finale event was 8-ball, and it was the Battle of the Sexes. The ladies vs the gentlemen. The crowd had not stirred and was anxious to see this historic match-up. But during the final introductions, Ray Martin’s daughter Robyn came out and gave a brief speech about her father in celebration of his pending 81st birthday. Ray was moved to tears, as well as most of the audience watching.
“My father stepped away from the game to provide for his family first…he still came back to the game and won world championships. He always emulated the virtues of a gentleman and embraces what is truly important in life”, said Robyn.
“Why couldn’t you have said this after I played this match!”, said Ray jokingly as he wiped tears from his face and embraced his daughter.
“I didn’t script this, but this may have been the best part of the event!” said Phil De Angelo, President of the Villages Billiard Club who co-promoted the Florida Billiards Expo with Dragon Promotions.
In the finale match, it turned out not to be a match at all. The ladies trounced on the men 2-0 getting to the hill first. With ball in hand, the men had a ray of light as Buddy Hall studied the table for a good minute , deliberating the best pattern for his teammates in the scotch doubles format. Finally picking his path, he shot his ball in.
“Foul.” said the referee.
“Eeeeeeee! Buddy shot the wrong ball!”, exclaimed LoreeJon screaming with delight.
“I told you I’m not an 8-Ball player”, laughed Hall to his team and the audience.
“Buddy, you are now officially a Villager!”, announced De Angelo to the laughing roar of the audience.
The ladies ran out with JoAnn making the final 8-ball for a 3-0 shut-out of the men.
Ewa and Buddy had both won their respective divisions with a splintering identical 5 win and 1 loss record. They were both crowned and announced as the Legend of Legends.
“Oh I had such a wonderful time. These are such good friends of mine and I care about all of them deeply. It was such a pleasure being here at the Florida Billiards Expo”, said Hall.
“The best part was seeing everyone. That was always what I looked forward to the most”, said Rempe.
The Florida Billiards Expo is slated for January or February of 2017 and is already being designed to dramatically increase events, players, and vendors to triple the size of this year’s. Visit FloridaBilliardsExpo.com for full stories and photo galleries.