Association of Surfing
2001 World Championship Tour (WCT)
Top Rated Surfers Tumble
in Day Of Upsets
Jeffreys Bay, South Africa (Monday, July 23rd) Current
#1 CJ Hobgood (USA) was today eliminated from the Billabong Pro in round
four. World #2 Luke Egan (Aus) also lost this afternoon, while World champion
Sunny Garcia (Haw) and current #3 Cory Lopez (USA), were among the list
of top rated surfers to lose during round three matches this morning.
Conditions greatly improved throughout the day, beginning
in 3-4 ft (1.3m) wind affected waves. By this afternoon competitors enjoyed
cleaner 4-6 ft (2m) surf, though a long paddle and shifty sections kept
matters difficult. Hobgood, 22, looked set to dramatically
increase his lead today after eliminating South African wildcard Simon
Nicholson in round three, with those near him on the ratings falling by
the wayside. Up against current #25
Kalani Robb (Haw) later, however, the momentum stopped when he was unable
to secure the 6.76 needed at the end. "That's the
way it goes sometimes, I guess," Hobgood said after the loss. "It seems
like I just used up everything I had to make it out of the heat before,
and then just flopped around in that one. I just made some stupid mistakes."
24, who's had a poor year result-wise, began his day by eliminating Nathan
Hedge (Aus), and then carried on with the job against Hobgood to advance
into the quarterfinals. "I felt good," said Robb.
"I knew if he got a better wave at the end he would have won, but it just
feels like this is going to be my lucky event, 'cause I had an unlucky
one last time (in Brazil)."
World #11 Shea Lopez (USA) accounted for Egan. While the
Australian was pleased to have progressed past his previous three third
round defeats, the clash this afternoon was hardly what he'd hoped for.
His best score was only 3.75, out of a possible 10, while his opponent
found the better waves and put together the win. "The
heat really summed up my year," said Egan. "I couldn't find a wave and
by the end of it I was surprised I wasn't needing a combination (of scores).
If a wave had of come I was ready to go, but I couldn't find the right
ones. I'm pretty disappointed. I was hoping to have a good year, but oh
well, these things happen."
Lopez, 27, who's currently rated #17, overcame world #6
Taj Burrow (Aus) en-route to meeting Egan in the last heat of the day.
By catching the better waves in that, he's now gained even more valuable
ground on his brother's early lead this year. "I
can't believe I made the quarters today," began Lopez. "I had a really
hard heat earlier, so I'm glad there was a break in the sets. Luke never
really got started and I had a few good waves. "It's
a bummer he's out," he continued, speaking of his brother Cory. "But I'm
gaining points every heat."
Replacement Beau Emerton (Aus) continued his great form
in the Billabong Pro, edging out Garcia in a tight round three match this
morning, before disposing of 1999 event champion Joel Parkinson (Aus)
later on to make the quarters. "It's good, all these
guys I keep getting surf really well out there," began Emerton this afternoon.
"That wasn't the best heat I've had, we both struggled a bit out there,
actually. It was a pretty low scoring heat, but I'll take it. "I've
got a really good board that I feel confident on," he continued. "Missing
out last year (on the WCT) and not getting in these events, I really miss
it a lot, so I want to make do with what I have. Hopefully I can go all
the way. I'm just taking every heat as it comes. It's been awhile since
I've been in the quarters, so it's good to get a bit of hunger back."
Defending Billabong Pro champion Jake Paterson (Aus) kept
his 2001 campaign alive today by ending Russell Winter's (GB) run. Winter,
who eliminated current #2 and 1999 world champion Mark Occhilupo (Aus)
two days ago,
started strong with a 7.5 ride against Paterson and lead toward the end,
but was pipped at the post.
Paterson, 28, secured the fourth round win with his final
5.8 ride. He'll now face world #15 and close friend Nathan Webster (Aus).
"Phew, that was close," said a grinning Paterson.
"If I hadn't of stuck that last turn I would have lost for sure. I don't
believe in luck, but jeez, I reckon I was lucky then."
Current #15 Taylor Knox was another fourth round winner,
ending the roll world #42 Mark Bannister (Aus) was on. Bannister, 29,
eliminated Cory Lopez this morning with a near-perfect 9-point ride at
the end, but couldn't repeat the performance. Both he and his opponent
made characteristic falls throughout the heat, but Knox got the judges
nod. "I'm glad I got that out of my system," joked
Knox afterward, referring to the comedy of errors. "I don't think I'll
be falling like that again. "My year so far has
been OK, so there's opportunity for me," he said of the ratings. "I'm
stoked. I like this wave and this wave likes me, so we have a good relationship."
Emslie continued the South African charge today by advancing past last
year's event runner-up Peterson Rosa (Brz) this morning, and then Pat
O'Connell (USA) in round four. Clearly the crowd favorite, he'll meet
Emerton in the quarters. "The heats before this
I felt like I was surfing a little too relaxed and not pushing it enough,"
said Emslie after his second win. "I told myself I was in for a good result
anyway, so I should start going for it a bit more. Plus, I felt quite
comfortable out there. It's good to have the crowd behind you, too, it's
like it gives you the will to win."
Current #31 Damien Hobgood (USA) may not be leading the
ratings like his twin brother CJ, but today gained bragging rights by
defeating world #13 Michael Lowe (Aus) with his last 8.75 ride to stay
in event contention. "When I got that one at the
end I just told myself not to fall," said Hobgood of his winning ride.
"Even though I haven't been doing that good (this year), I have had a
lot of confidence. Luck just hasn't gone my way. Somehow this place is
giving me some loving."
Garcia, who's currently rated #4, put up a strong battle
this morning against Emerton and scored the best ride of the heat with
a 9.0 toward the end, but was still searching for another 5.9 at the end.
"The heat was slow and Beau got a few better waves,"
said Garcia. "He was smart and picked off some good ones and waited. "I'm
not happy with the result, but I've got a month and a half to go ponder
that and get ready for Portugal," he continued. "For me, it's just a matter
of staying close enough. If I can stay up there heading into Hawaii, Sunset's
(venue of the years' last WCT event) my ace in the hole. This year hasn't
been ideal, but it's a short season, which makes it more frustrating
since you could easily win the title, or that much easier not win it."
Current world #13 Trent Munro (Aus), winner of the last
WCT event in Brazil, was eliminated by Parkinson this morning. The pair
put on a fantastic display, but 'Parko' dominated, posting the event's
highest total of 24.9 points.
World #39 Sasha Stocker (Aus) was forced
to withdraw from the Billabong Pro. The Australian tore his hamstring
whilst free surfing today, giving Egan a rare walk-through in round three.
The injury comes as a huge blow to
Stocker, who only recovered from a serious knee problem at the beginning
of the season. "I'm feeling terrible right now,"
said Stocker, while being attended to by the event doctor. "I've just
been told I've torn my hamstring and may be out the water for about a
month, I'm really disappointed. I can't believe this has happened."
Official Results of the Billabong Pro
Round Four (losers finish =9th and receive US$5,000)
H1: Nathan Webster (Aus) 18.0 def. Shawn Sutton (Haw) 17.75
H2: Jake Paterson (Aus) 18.05 def. Russell Winter (GB) 17.65
H3: Damien Hobgood (USA) 22.15 def. Michael Lowe (Aus) 18.05
H4: Kalani Robb (Haw) 20.5 def. CJ Hobgood (USA) 18.75
H5: Beau Emerton (Aus) 17.0 def. Joel Parkinson (Aus) 16.35
H6: Greg Emslie (SAfr) 19.6 def. Pat O'Connell (USA) 18.1
H7: Taylor Knox (USA) 16.75 def. Mark Bannister (Aus) 16.1
H8: Shea Lopez (USA) 17.5 def. Luke Egan (Aus) 8.8
Round Three (losers finish =17th and receive US$4,000)
H6: Michael Lowe (Aus) 17.4 def. Danny Wills (Aus) 16.85
H7: Kalani Robb (Haw) 19.75 def. Nathan Hedge (Aus) 16.4
H8: CJ Hobgood (USA) 20.35 def. Simon Nicholson (SAfr) 20.0
H9: Beau Emerton (Aus) 21.9 def. Sunny Garcia (Haw) 21.5
H10: Joel Parkinson (Aus) 24.9 def. Trent Munro (Aus) 21.5
H11: Greg Emslie (SAfr) 20.5 def. Peterson Rosa (Brz) 18.7
H12: Pat O'Connell (USA) 22. 0 def. Richard Lovett (Aus) 17.15
H13: Mark Bannister (Aus) 22. 0 def. Cory Lopez (USA) 21.9
H14: Taylor Knox (USA) 19.1 def. Luke Hitchings (Aus) 8.75
H15: Luke Egan (Aus) 0.0 advanced past Sasha Stocker (Aus) 0.0 inj.
H16: Shea Lopez (USA) vs. Taj Burrow (Aus)
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