CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY)- 39 years in the making. US Open 9-Ball founder Barry Behrman never could imagine his tournament would still be holding strong after all these years. Yes he’s made his mark on the game of Billiards. Behrman even has a 9-Ball tattoo on his arm. He says, along with the World Championhips, his tournament is the top draw in the world. “The commodity that I own, the US Open 9-Ball Championship is the best-selling commodity in pool even over the World Championhips,” says Behrman.
128 players make up this years field with 26 of the top 32 players in the world competing for this years $30,000 dollar first place check. Back in 1976 when Behrman first put this tournament on, he had trouble just fielding 16 players. “I remember vividly waiting for the 16th player to fill out the field,” says Behrman.
Now its a who’s who of the worlds best. This years field includes 5 time champion, Earl Strickland who won his first US Open in 1984. “I remember I was just a gambler in the beginning and everyone told me I had to win the US Open. I said, why do I have to win the US Open? And they all said that if you win the Open, people will recognize you,” said Strickland.
If you can’t make it to Chesapeake, that’s O.K. Accu-stats Video Productions streams these top matches live world-wide. Accu-stats founder Pat Fleming started with Behrman over 30 years ago with one single camera. Now Fleming has 5 camera’s and a crew of 15 people working around the clock. “We have a pay-per-view on the internet, so we reach people like that all over the world and when the tournament is done, we put the matches on DVD’s and they are available forever,” said Fleming.
This years champion will need to win 8 straight matches and come Sunday night when the 39th US Open 9-Ball champion is crowned, that winner will have earned it. “To win this tournament as a professional, you are achieving one of the biggest dreams as a professional pool player,” said John Morra a player out of Canada.