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Carom Billiard - 3-Cushion - LG U-Plus Cup 3-Cushion Masters - Seoul (KOR)

Marco Zanetti is the shining star in Seoul

Posted by on September 8, 2017

Marco Zanetti is the shining star in Seoul

© Kozoom/Korea
Marco Zanetti grabs the win and the big money, Italian star back in the world top

SEOUL - The Italian billiard player Marco Zanetti may be 55, but as a sportsman, he is in the summer of his life. A victory in the highest prize money tournament in the world, the LG U+ Cup in Seoul, marked the old maestro's return to the top. To win in South Korea, Zanetti had to beat both Dick Jaspers and Frédéric Caudron. His final match, against the relatively unknown but surprisingly strong Korean Jin-Pyo Hong (40-19 in 16) brought even the partisan home crowd to their feet. Marco was the undisputed star in Seoul. Not often before did he show this much class, confidence and fighting spirit. The packed stands on the closing days did not just admire his billiard skills. The Italian's charisma and temperament were much appreciated by Koreans.

His second big success of the year, after the European title in Brandenburg, gave Zanetti a place amongst the greats of this era. His third place on the world ranking, higher than he was for many years, confirms that his career is in a new phase. Big money was at stake in the Korean event, and it put the players under added pressure. Marco Zanetti stayed calm, and withstood the attacks of Jaspers, Caudron and the Korean aces Choi and Heo. The first prize of 60.000 euro is a just reward for the player who started out as a technical discipline expeert, but has developed into one of the best ever 3-cushion players. Two world titles, high finishes in World Cups, European titles have not saturated Zanetti's ambitions. He was close to reataining his World Games title earlier this year, but got beaten in the final by another icon of the sport, Dani Sánchez.

His great form showed early in the Seoul tournament. Zanetti had the highest prelim average of all 16 players (2.622), thanks to a victory and a draw against two strong Koreans, Sung-Won Choi and Jung-Han Heo. Only Dick Jaspers got the better of him in the group, but in the quarterfinal, Zanetti got his revenge (40-34 in 14 innings, (2.857 and 2.429). Frédéric Caudron (having beaten Nikos Polychronopoulos, 40-28 in 15), Torbjörn Blomdahl (a win over title holder Choong-Bok Lee, 40-33 in 26) and Jin-Pyo Hong, the tournament revelation who won the Korean clash with Dong-Koong Kang (40-33 in 17), were the other three semifinalists.

And like earlier in the season, in the European championship, Zanetti proved to be an "angstgegner" for Frédéric Caudron. In Brandenburg, the Italian started like a rocket and won 40-14 in 11 innings. In the Seoul semifinal, his level was about as impressive. Zanetti ran nine points in the first inning, and delivered the knockout four innings later, with a magnificent run of 18. It equalled the high run of the tournament, made earlier by Blomdahl. The 33-10 lead was too much for Caudron, and the match ended 40-19 in 12 (3.333 vs 1.583).

Jin-Pyo Hong in the other semifinal face another European legend. The 31-year old Korean from Daejeon, married, father of one child with a second on the way, sometimes participates in World Cups, but holds a modest 74th place on the ranking. In this event though, he has pedigree because he did well last year too, when he was stopped in the semifinal by the later winner Choong-Bok Lee. Torbjörn Blomdahl, having played his best match in the group stage (40 in 8, run of 18) still had hopes when he was down 25-21 after 20 innings. Two runs by the inspired home player did the job though, and the applause was his. Hong reached the finish line with 8 and 6 in his last two innings: 40-21 in 22 (1.818/0.954).

The final turned out to be one-way traffic, due to Zanetti's superiority. A quick lead (14-4, 20-11, 25-15) robbed the match of all suspense. The Italian looked to close the deal in the 15th inning, but he missed while on a run of 9. It was just a short delay for Jin-Pyo Hong, who had to bow to his opponent an inning later: 40-19 in 16 (2.500/1.188).

The well-filled prize fund was shared amongst the finalists:

1 Marco Zanetti, 60.000 euro

2 Jin-Pyo Hong, 30.000 euro

3 Frédéric Caudron and Torbjörn Blomdahl, 15.000 euro
5-8 Dick Jaspers, Dong-Koong Kang, Choong-Bok Lee, Nikos Polychronopoulos, 7.500 euro.

Marco Zanetti and Jin-Pyo Hong to start the final match

Marco Zanetti shows his emotion in the final

Marco Zanetti, the focus at the end of the match

Jin-Pyo Hong, the revelation in Seoul

The finalists with the referees

Torbjörn Blomdahl, beaten by Hong in the semis

Frédéric Caudron, beaten by Marco Zanetti, the angstgegner

Full stands on the final day

The organizers and the sponsors

The long rows of billiard fans before the final day



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