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Teen Sensation Wu Joins Packed IPT Qualifier Field
Feb 17, 2006, 9:55 AM

If you thought the first two qualifiers for the International Pool Tour were tough, you haven’t seen anything yet.

Qualifier No. 3 begins today at Hard Times Billiards in Bellflower, Calif., and a full field of 78 players has registered to compete for two open spots on the million-dollar 8-ball tour. The top shooters include Chia-Ching Wu, the current WPA world 8-ball and 9-ball champion; German pool statesman Oliver Ortmann; and Filipino ace Antonio Lining.

With a field packed with pros and excellent amateur players, every match in the double-elimination event looks to be a barn-burner. Almost every player paid a $2,000 entry fee for the event, with the exception of a few high finishers from the previous two qualifiers who earned free passes.

Those taking their second — and, in some cases, third — shot at the IPT include European studs Thomas Engert, Vilmos Foldes, and Imran Majid; and Americans George Breedlove, Robb Saez and Frankie Hernandez. Also in the running are Filipinos Santos Sambajon, Warren Kiamco and Ramil Gallego.

The biggest surprise is 17-year-old Wu, who made the trip from his native Taiwan, apparently in hopes of cashing in on the big-bucks tour.

The IPT’s first major 2006 event — the North American 8-Ball Open Championship — is scheduled for July 22-30 at the Venetian in Las Vegas. The purse is set at $2 million, and the top finisher will receive $350,000.

The strength of this weekend’s qualifier field is even more remarkable taking into account that the Joss Tour’s Turning Stone event in Verona, N.Y., has fielded 128 players this weekend. Between the IPT and Joss event, almost every active pool pro in the Western world is playing this weekend.

The remaining two IPT qualifiers are scheduled for Feb. 24-26 at Country Club Billiards in Chelmsford, Mass., and March 10-12 at House of Billiards Weert in The Netherlands.

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