2012 NC Open final report

Posted 15 April 2012 to Tournaments, Association Croquet by Jeff Soo

Brian Cumming (Elora, Ontario) won his second North Carolina Open, beating Stuart Lawrence (Brooklyn, NY) +26tp, +8tp in the final. Jim Bast won the Plate, and David Collie won First Flight.

Cumming’s tournament started with a surprise loss to Bob Morgan. The game was played on Bob & Carol Cherry’s artificial turf court, which seemed to suit Morgan’s game especially well. Most of the other top seeds were also upset victims in the blocks. Defending champion Danny Huneycutt lost a block game to Rob Hurst. National doubles champion Doug Grimsley lost to a Mike Taylor triple peel. Jim Bast was the only player to survive the blocks unscathed, earning top seeding in the knockout.

In First Flight, Bill Hartmann was undefeated in the block, winning each of his five games by a good margin. Bob Roth finished the block 4/5, and Russ Hanson, Kathy Kuhasz, and Becky Essick all finished 3/5.

Taylor’s triple was one of only nine completed in the forty-five block games, thanks to surprisingly challenging conditions. For the first time in many years, Pinehurst chose not to overseed the courts for winter, and recent cool weather had put the summer turf back into dormancy. The courts had a good fast pace throughout the week, enough to make many boundaries and hoop approaches treacherous. The Cherry court was a touch faster still, although truer. Despite 3-hour time limits, many Championship games went to time. First Flight used shorter time limits and all games went to time.

In Championship Flight, 10 of 18 would advance to the knockout. This was best-of-three games from the quarterfinals on, but the play-in matches were single game. Lawrence beat Jeff Soo and Grimsley beat Hurst in the play-in round. Lawrence and Grimsley then each advanced with 2-0 wins over the top seeds, Huneycutt and Bast, respectively. Cumming had a quick win over Bob Cherry, while Harper Peterson prevailed in a grueling match against Taylor.

Peterson was the surprise performer of the week, parlaying conservative tactics and steady play into a second-place block finish, followed by his win over Taylor and a semi-finals berth. He continued to play well in his semi-final match against Lawrence, but Lawrence managed successive triples under fast and breezy conditions to advance to his first NC Open final.

Grimsley won the first game against Cumming, his seventh win in a row. Cumming leveled the match, and had the first clean break in the decider. Grimsley got in and went for the triple on opponent, finishing the peels and peg-out but leaving his partner ball well in from the boundary. With both backward balls on 3, Cumming made an all-or-nothing play to pick up the break off the contact. He finished +12, adding yet another OTP to the Grimsley record.

With overcast conditions on Sunday, the courts were a trifle slower in the morning. Cumming quickly won game 1 of the final +26tp. As the courts dried the newly-set hoops on the finals court took their toll, and the match turned interactive. Lawrence made good progress on a triple to level the match, but a reverse take-off and tough hoop shot at 3-back gave Cumming the winning play. He finished +8tp for his second NC Open title.

The First Flight quarterfinals went according to playoff seeding, Hartmann, Roth, Collie, and Kuhasz advancing. Hartmann continued his strong play to beat Roth 19-9, while Collie squeaked by Kuhasz 11-10. Collie elevated his play in the final to win 14-8.

In the Championship Plate, the top eight players advanced to a single-game knockout on Sunday. Bast reached the final with two triples; Hurst via two much scrappier games. The final was an interactive affair, not exactly reflected in the final score, +17 to Bast.

Doug Grimsley won the peeling competition for the Biscuit Barrel, with five triples (including his OTP). Next were Huneycutt (a quad and two triples), Cumming, Bast, Lawrence, and Soo (3 each), and Taylor with 1.

Championship Flight

1. Brian Cumming
2. Stuart Lawrence
=3. Harper Peterson
=3. Doug Grimsley
5. Jim Bast
6. Danny Huneycutt
7. Rob Hurst
8. Jeff Soo
9. George Cochran
10. Bob Cherry
11. Mike Taylor
12. Jon Essick
13. Horace Hayworth
=14. Steve Summer
=14. Tom Yates
=16. Bob Morgan
=16. Tommy Harrington
18. Chris Christian

First Flight

1. David Collie
2. Bill Hartmann
3. Bob Roth
4. Kathy Kuhasz
=5. Russ Hanson
=5. Becky Essick
7. Bob Whitmore
8. Bill Rinaman
9. Mike Conry
10. Elaine Moody

Last modified on 16 April 2012