Brunei’s Ahmad Taufiq finishes runners-up in US Open qualifier

|     Fadhil Yunus     |

BRUNEI Darussalam national cueist Ahmad Taufiq bin Murni emerged runners-up in the US Open 9-Ball Championship Asia Qualifier after losing 11-3 to Vietnam’s Hoang Duong Quoc at the Fifth Avenue Club in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.

The national cueist missed out on entry to the main draw of the prestigious US Open 9-Ball Championship in Las Vegas, United States of America (USA), with the winner acting as the qualifier from a regional qualifying system.

Ahmad Taufiq managed an incredible effort in his quest having defeated a player currently ranked by the World Pool-Billiard Association.

En route to his final appearance, Brunei’s most recognised pool player overpowered Singapore’s Hairul 9-2 in the round of 32 after receiving a bye in the round of 64.

He then outplayed Singapore’s Nicholas Tan 9-1 in the round of 16 to reach the quarterfinals where he defeated Singapore’s Tan Chew Ming 11-7.

National cueist Ahmad Taufiq bin Murni in action during the US Open 9-Ball Championship Asia Qualifier. – LIM TAT HWE

Taufiq enhanced his hopes of joining elite company in the US Open after he bested Singapore’s world number 59 Sharik Sayed 11-7 in the semi-final of the competition.

Hoang Duong Quoc, who sealed his place in the main draw, is ranked 46th in the world.

Meanwhile, Ahmad Taufiq’s compatriot Md Azim bin Haji Abu Bakar reached the last 32 of the competition where his journey ended with a 9-6 loss to Singapore’s Goh Chin Teik.

Md Azim had earlier beaten Singapore’s Lum Wai Keong in the round of 64 of the competition.

Only two qualifiers from the two-day qualifying tournament will be confirmed in the main draw with the second winner of the qualifying system announced yesterday.

Sanctioned by the World Pool-Billiard Association, the 43rd edition of the US Open 9-Ball Championship will be held on April 21-26.

Jayson Shaw of Scotland will defend his title after beating Albania’s Eklent Kaci 11-4 in the 2017 final.

A total of 256 players will participate this year after the event was skipped in 2018.