Thursday, February 15, 2007

Jeanette Lee and George Breedlove Capture 2007 "Skins" Billiards Championship Crown

"We couldn’t believe it at first," Jeanette Lee and George Breedlove said moments after claiming the 2007 Skins Billiards Championship title. "We were so focused on the table we didn’t know how much we’d won until it was announced." The Scotch Doubles paired team won the entire $40,000 prize purse with a spectacular series of runouts.

The event was held February 10 at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. Four champions and legends of the sport were brought together in a shootout with a pressure-cooker format for the $40,000 in prize money. The purse is the largest of any Scotch Doubles invitational event in the world, and the winners claimed one of the most coveted titles in pool – Skins Billiards Champions.

The field included top stars of the sport. Johnny Archer, 2006 International Champion of Champions; Jeanette Lee, World Games Gold Medalist; Jennifer Barretta, 2006 Empress Cup Champion; and George Breedlove, Viking Tour Champion. Archer and Barretta, who were paired as the other team, went home emply-handed.

The one-match Skins Championship was nonetheless a nailbiter from the beginning. Lee and Breedlove battled their way through a head-to-head struggle that featured flawless runouts and exquisite safety play. Archer and Barretta won the first two games and looked poised to take the first Skin worth $3,000. But Lee and Breedlove ultimately won the first Skin and went on to take the next two Skins, which brought their winnings to $33,000 at that point in the match. The last Skin worth $7,000 went into a one game Sudden Death after both teams failed to take three games in a row. Archer and Barretta were on a runout in the Sudden Death when Barretta jawed the 6 ball in the corner pocket. Lee and Breedlove quickly cleaned the table and made it a shut out by claiming the entire $40,000 purse and the Championship title.

The SKINS BILLIARDS CHAMPIONSHIP is regarded as the supreme test of skill in the sport. The tournament format, somewhat similar to Skins in golf, is the most demanding test of 9-Ball skill in professional billiards. Some players remarked that the pressure of the SKINS format made each and every game like a hill-hill championship match. Two Scotch Doubles teams compete against each other in a match, with twelve games to a match, and a team must win three games in a row to win a Skin. There are four Skins to a match, with each Skin worth larger amounts of money, and money not won in a Skin carries over to the next Skin. The prize fund of $40,000 was open for grabs to the team that won the most Skins.

The standing-room-only crowd gave Jeanette Lee and George Breedlove a rousing ovation when they claimed the winner’s crown. The trophy and the winner’s check were presented by Springfield civic leaders and Olhausen Billiards, and Viking Cues presented two one-of-a-kind cues inscribed "2007 Skins Billiards Champion." The presentation brought another round of cheers from the audience.

In addition to the fine tournament site at the Basketball Hall of Fame, the event was sponsored by Olhausen Billiards, Viking Cues, Aramith Super Pro Balls, Simonis Cloth, Chameleon Rack, Liguria International, Original Italian Slate, Ozone Billiards, Silver Cup Chalk, Hilton Garden Inn, Springfield Business Improvement District, Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley and The event was produced by Matt Braun and Bettiane Braun of Billiards International, Ltd. in association with Allen Hopkins. The event was taped by ESPN for a 1-hour telecast April 5 at 7 PM.

Photo courtesy of Seth Kaye

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