The Australian Open
The Australian Open was held in Adelaide, Sunday 20th-27th June
and was won by Dave Collins (Victoria). Steve Mifsud, a player
capable of scoring double centuries, elected to play in the South Pacific
Open Snooker Championship which was being held at the same time.
The twenty competitors were split into four groups of five players
playing league format. The top four from each section qualified from
the groups, which meant that only the bottom player in each group
would be eliminated, with the finishing positions used to seed the later
draw. Joe Minici, Joe Millen, Neil Croft, Tim Walters all emerged
undefeated from the groups, Minici having made the highest break to
this point with 229. Frank Dewens, better know for his administrative
work than his cue work, put in a fine performance to finish second in
his group. The top spot in Group D was keenly contested between Tim
Walters and George Ganim, with Walters prevailing by just 12 points
in the key match between these two players. Play in the groups produced
20 centuries, Neil Croft leading the way with six of them, his highest
being 194. Others to do well were George Ganim and Joe Minici, each
with five centuries.
Last year’s finalist Frank Humphreys had been confidently expected to
head his group but surprisingly could only finish third. This gave him
a difficult draw against Collins in the last 16 and in a desperately close
finish he lost out by just 11 points. Tim Walters, who had performed so
well in the groups, also made an exit at this stage, going down by 54
points to A. Hinks.
(WA) 437; J. Minici (NSW)(229, 136 unf) 858, B. Moulday (Vic) 319; G.
Ganim (Vic)(124) 565, I. Gilbee (Vic) 398; D. Collins (Vic) 523, F. Humphreys
(WA)(121, 108) 512; P. Udycz (SA) 634, F. Dewens (SA) 310; J. Millen
(NSW)(112) 768, J. Ahmad (SA) 216; N. Croft (Vic)(163, 109) 744, M.
Rynkiewicz (Vic) 313; A. Hinks (NSW) 442, T. Walters (Vic) 388.
NSW – New South Wales, SA – South Australia, Vic – Victoria, WA – Western
Neil Croft and Joe Minici had comfortable wins to
make it through to the semi-finals, Croft scoring two centuries and
Minici three. The other two quarter-finals were a lot closer, with Joe
Millen beating George Ganim 700-562 and Dave Collins defeating
Hinks 930-766. Collins scored just his second century of the tournament
in his match with Hinks.
550; J. Millen 700, George Ganim (131) 562; Dave Collins (113) 930, A.
Hinks 766; Joe Minici (106, 103, 101) 1,051, P. Udycz 618.
Given their previous performances, Croft and
Minici must be a little disappointed they were stopped in the semifinals,
going out to Millen and Collins respectively. Minici had made
the final twice before, in 1997 when he lost to George Ganim Jnr; and
last year when he beat Frank Humphreys. He also made the highest
break that year with 323. The record break for the Australian Open
being 702, which was made in 1953 by the legendary Bob Marshall.
Croft has made the final once, in 1996, when he was beaten by the
enigmatic Danik Lucas.
(105) 1090, J. Minici 1019.
Collins secured his fourth Australian Open Billiards
title to add to those he won in 1990, 1991 and 1994. He has also been
runner-up four times (1987, 1992, 1993, 1995). Millen has never won
the title, but this was his third appearance in the final, the previous
occasions having been in 1984 and 1988.
105) 1907, J. Millen (126, 105) 1347.