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The Winners, And Still Champions
Dec 18, 2005, 6:23 PM

It didn't take long for Team USA to finish off Team Europe on the final day of the 2005 Mosconi Cup at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Entering Day Four, Team USA, winner of nine of the previous 11 US vs Europe team challenges, needed a single win from a possible six singles matches.

As was expected, Team Europe, needing a clean sweep, sent out its strongest player and captain, Mika Immonen of Finland first Sunday morning. The US, with the luxury of being able to save its top players for later in the day, answered with Mosconi debutante Shawn Putnam. Putman had lobbied with US captain Johnny Archer for the chance to play first on the final day, with hopes of sending home the title-clinching 9 ball. But a missed opportunity prevented Putnam from breaking Immonen's serve in the alternating-break, race-to-five match, and was forced to watch Immonen post a clean runout from the break in the deciding game for a 5-4 win. Immonen's win narrowed the US lead to 10-6.

But Jeremy Jones, who had struggled through the first days of the four-day event, found himself in a familiar position against Germany's Thorsten Hohmann. With a chance to repeat his Mosconi-ending shot at the MGM in 2003, Jones took advantage of Hohmann's empty break shot in the case rack, forcing the German to kick at the 1 ball, then ran out from the resulting position to nail down Team USA's 10th win in 12 tries.

"We're changing Jeremy's nickname to "The Closer," said Earl Strickland, who earned the Mosconi Cup Most Valuable Player trophy for his perfect 5-0 record.

"Nobody on either team played exceptionally well this week, except for Earl and Rodney," said Archer. "But it's weeks like this where you play with heart and do what you have to do to win. And this team showed a lot of heart."

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