Untouchable: Ga Young Kim Master Class at Andy Cloth Women’s International Pool Championship
GYK and Vivian had nearly identical records not only over the course of the event, but also their prior tournament leading into this week. Both players had a 18 & 19 win match streak
“I’m really playing the best pool of my life right now. I don’t know why, but I just feel good. Maybe because I’ve been playing with alot of good men players lately”, said Vivian today in an interview.
“Vivian is playing so good, and I love her style. She always plays the same rhythm. She is so full of concentration and confidence. I like that” commented Kim on her upcoming foe.
The unprecedented race to 17 finals began with Vivian winning the first game quickly off a 2/10 combo but GYK came right back with a runout to tie at 1-1. Vivian came back the next game to take the lead again, and once again GYK tied at 2-2. Then Kim took the lead, but Vivian won the next 2 to take the lead back. The match was going back and forth with both players making great shots but also some errors. It was apparent both players felt the pressure of the finals.
Eventually the match stood at 6-6 and Villarreal had a golden chance to re-take the lead again but scratched behind a carom on the 10-Ball. This is where the momentum switched to GYK’s favor. Kim took the next rack and then hooked herself. She studied the shot and kicked the ball in and ran out. Kim would kick in a total of 3 balls in the finals not to mention numerous kicks that maneuvered her out of harm’s way. Villarreal had a golden opportunity to get within one game again at 8-6, but could not take advantage of a rare ball in hand given from Kim to Vivian. Another rack had Villarreal make a routine 9-Ball but overran position and froze the cueball to the 10-ball with no offensive option. She played safe and left GYK a long off angle bank. Kim banked the ball long rails perfectly. Kim would take the next 4 racks including a runout with a beautiful behind the back Bustamante-like shot and end the score at 10-6 her favor at the intermission.
Thirty minutes later the match resumed, and the break worked in Villarreal’s favor slowing down Kim’s 5 game win streak. The Texas Tornado would win the next 2 games and brought the score to 10-8. But Kim turned up the notch further with some spectacular jump shots, kicks, and superior breaking power. At one point, she even took her bridge out and her jumpcue, and proceeded to make a jump shot extended with a bridge. The score extended to 13-8 GYK’s favor.
Villarreal would continue making errors on shots and position until the score reached 15-8. Vivian would notch another game at 15-9. GYK went to the hill at 16-9. Villarreal made a crucial out off a GYK break to get to the double digits at 16-10. Thus far Villarreal had already surpassed the most games won against GYK in the event (her next closest match was 11-6 over Helena Thornfeldt)
Villarreal made another great runout and seemed to be coming into a new rhythm when the unthinkable happened. Vivian missed a straight in 10-Ball. Stunned, Vivian paused and stayed at the table after the miss for a few moments before deciding to concede the game. A bitter ending for Villarreal, but well earned victory for Kim. Villarreal then walked off the arena for a few minutes trying to catch her composure in a clearly emotional loss.
To give the well deserving runner-up time, event producer Charlie Williams started the closing ceremonies and introduced the Bronze Medalist Jennifer Barretta of NYC. Denise Wilkinson of New Zealand also received the Bronze but had to depart on her 22 hour flight earlier that day.
“It felt really great to play in front of my home crowd. I wish I performed better. It was my son Max’s 8 year old birthday yesterday during my semi-finals and I promised if I won the tournament he would have a week long celebration of legos!” said Barretta.
Finally Villarreal returned and was awarded the Silver Medal and runner-up plaque. She was greeted by a consoling hug from Williams.
Still teary eyed, Villarreal started, “I’m sorry. Nothing to take away from you babe you know I love you (to Ga Young) but I really thought I was going to win this tournament. I played so good this week, and I just didn’t show up.” Choking up a bit more she continued, “I had dreams of that trophy being filled with Coronas!” Then she let out a expletive to the laughter of the fans.
“People don’t realize how great a kicker Ga Young is. You can’t three foul her because her 3Cushion skills are so strong. She kept getting out of all my safeties. She’s just a great player”, Villarreal ended her speech on that flattering note to the champion.
“I am so happy that I was able to play so well this week. I was busy in Korea and China between events and school, but I really wanted to come here and play this event. And now my dream came true. I’m so happy!”, said Ga Young. When asked how was she able to turn on her competitive spirit against her best friend on tour and roommate at this event all week, she simply said, “I am a professional.”
All in all, it was a week full of amazing matches and unforgettable memories and friendship amongst new players and old foes. Ga Young Kim started the event as the #1 seed, won 12 matches in a row and ended it with the crown of champion amongst a field of international stars. She continues to prove to the world that she is the best there is and what she does.