The Latest From The Billabong Pro At J-Bay

Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP)2001 World Championship Tour (WCT)

Top Rated Surfers Tumble in Day Of Upsets

Jeffreys Bay, South Africa (Monday, July 23rd) Current #1 CJ Hobgood (USA)was today eliminated from the Billabong Pro in round four. World #2 LukeEgan (Aus) also lost this afternoon, while World champion Sunny Garcia (Haw)and current #3 Cory Lopez (USA), were among the list of top rated surfers tolose during round three matches this morning.

Conditions greatly improved throughout the day, beginning in 3-4 ft (1.3m)wind affected waves. By this afternoon competitors enjoyed cleaner 4-6 ft(2m) surf, though a long paddle and shifty sections kept matters difficult.

Hobgood, 22, looked set to dramatically increase his lead today aftereliminating South African wildcard Simon Nicholson in round three, withthose near him on the ratings falling by the wayside. Up against current #25Kalani Robb (Haw) later, however, the momentum stopped when he was unable tosecure the 6.76 needed at the end.

“That’s the way it goes sometimes, I guess,” Hobgood said after the loss.”It seems like I just used up everything I had to make it out of the heatbefore, and then just flopped around in that one. I just made some stupidmistakes.”

Robb, 24, who’s had a poor year result-wise, began his day by eliminatingNathan Hedge (Aus), and then carried on with the job against Hobgood toadvance into the quarterfinals.

“I felt good,” said Robb. “I knew if he got a better wave at the end hewould have won, but it just feels like this is going to be my lucky event,’cause I had an unlucky one last time (in Brazil).”

World #11 Shea Lopez (USA) accounted for Egan. While the Australian waspleased to have progressed past his previous three third round defeats, theclash this afternoon was hardly what he’d hoped for. His best score was only3.75, out of a possible 10, while his opponent found the better waves andput together the win.

“The heat really summed up my year,” said Egan. “I couldn’t find a wave andby the end of it I was surprised I wasn’t needing a combination (of scores).If a wave had of come I was ready to go, but I couldn’t find the right ones.I’m pretty disappointed. I was hoping to have a good year, but oh well,these things happen.”

Lopez, 27, who’s currently rated #17, overcame world #6 Taj Burrow (Aus)en-route to meeting Egan in the last heat of the day. By catching the betterwaves in that, he’s now gained even more valuable ground on his brother’searly lead this year.

“I can’t believe I made the quarters today,” began Lopez. “I had a reallyhard heat earlier, so I’m glad there was a break in the sets. Luke neverreally got started and I had a few good waves.

“It’s a bummer he’s out,” he continued, speaking of his brother Cory. “ButI’m gaining points every heat.”

Replacement Beau Emerton (Aus) continued his great form in the BillabongPro, edging out Garcia in a tight round three match this morning, beforedisposing of 1999 event champion Joel Parkinson (Aus) later on to make thequarters.

“It’s good, all these guys I keep getting surf really well out there,” beganEmerton this afternoon. “That wasn’t the best heat I’ve had, we bothstruggled a bit out there, actually. It was a pretty low scoring heat, butI’ll take it.

“I’ve got a really good board that I feel confident on,” he continued.”Missing out last year (on the WCT) and not getting in these events, Ireally miss it a lot, so I want to make do with what I have. Hopefully I cango all the way. I’m just taking every heat as it comes. It’s been awhilesince I’ve been in the quarters, so it’s good to get a bit of hunger back.”

Defending Billabong Pro champion Jake Paterson (Aus) kept his 2001 campaignalive today by ending Russell Winter’s (GB) run. Winter, who eliminatedcurrent #2 and 1999 world champion Mark Occhilupo (Aus) two days ago,started strong with a 7.5 ride against Paterson and lead toward the end, butwas pipped at the post.

Paterson, 28, secured the fourthound win with his final 5.8 ride. He’llnow face world #15 and close friend Nathan Webster (Aus).

“Phew, that was close,” said a grinning Paterson. “If I hadn’t of stuck thatlast turn I would have lost for sure. I don’t believe in luck, but jeez, Ireckon I was lucky then.”

Current #15 Taylor Knox was another fourth round winner, ending the rollworld #42 Mark Bannister (Aus) was on. Bannister, 29, eliminated Cory Lopezthis morning with a near-perfect 9-point ride at the end, but couldn’trepeat the performance. Both he and his opponent made uncharacteristic fallsthroughout the heat, but Knox got the judges nod.

“I’m glad I got that out of my system,” joked Knox afterward, referring tothe comedy of errors. “I don’t think I’ll be falling like that again.

“My year so far has been OK, so there’s opportunity for me,” he said of theratings. “I’m stoked. I like this wave and this wave likes me, so we have agood relationship.”

Greg Emslie continued the South African charge today by advancing past lastyear’s event runner-up Peterson Rosa (Brz) this morning, and then PatO’Connell (USA) in round four. Clearly the crowd favorite, he’ll meetEmerton in the quarters.

“The heats before this I felt like I was surfing a little too relaxed andnot pushing it enough,” said Emslie after his second win. “I told myself Iwas in for a good result anyway, so I should start going for it a bit more.Plus, I felt quite comfortable out there. It’s good to have the crowd behindyou, too, it’s like it gives you the will to win.”

Current #31 Damien Hobgood (USA) may not be leading the ratings like histwin brother CJ, but today gained bragging rights by defeating world #13Michael Lowe (Aus) with his last 8.75 ride to stay in event contention.

“When I got that one at the end I just told myself not to fall,” saidHobgood of his winning ride. “Even though I haven’t been doing that good(this year), I have had a lot of confidence. Luck just hasn’t gone my way.Somehow this place is giving me some loving.”

Garcia, who’s currently rated #4, put up a strong battle this morningagainst Emerton and scored the best ride of the heat with a 9.0 toward theend, but was still searching for another 5.9 at the end.

“The heat was slow and Beau got a few better waves,” said Garcia. “He wassmart and picked off some good ones and waited.

“I’m not happy with the result, but I’ve got a month and a half to go ponderthat and get ready for Portugal,” he continued. “For me, it’s just a matterof staying close enough. If I can stay up there heading into Hawaii,Sunset’s (venue of the years’ last WCT event) my ace in the hole. This yearhasn’t been ideal, but it’s a short season, which makes it more frustratingsince you could easily win the title, or that much easier not win it.”

Current world #13 Trent Munro (Aus), winner of the last WCT event in Brazil,was eliminated by Parkinson this morning. The pair put on a fantasticdisplay, but ‘Parko’ dominated, posting the event’s highest total of 24.9points.

World #39 Sasha Stocker (Aus) was forced to withdraw from the Billabong Pro.The Australian tore his hamstring whilst free surfing today, giving Egan arare walk-through in round three. The injury comes as a huge blow toStocker, who only recovered from a serious knee problem at the beginning ofthe season.

“I’m feeling terrible right now,” said Stocker, while being attended to bythe event doctor. “I’ve just been told I’ve torn my hamstring and may be outthe water for about a month, I’m really disappointed. I can’t believe thishas happened.”

Official Results of the Billabong ProRound Four (losers finish =9th and receive US$5,000)H1: Nathan Webster (Aus) 18.0 def. Shawn Sutton (Haw) 17.75H2: Jake Paterson (Aus) 18.05 def. Russell Winter (GB) 17.65H3: Damien Hobgood (USA) 22.15 def. Michael Lowe (Aus) 18.05H4: Kalani Robb (Haw) 20.5 def. CJ Hobgood (USA) 18.75H5: Beau Emerton (Aus) 17.0 def. Joel Parkinson (Aus) 16.35H6: Greg Emslie (SAfr) 19.6 def. Pat O’Connell (USA) 18.1H7: Taylor Knox (USA) 16.75 def. Mark Bannister (Aus) 16.1H8: Shea Lopez (USA) 17.5 def. Luke Egan (Aus) 8.8

Round Three (losers finish =17th and receive US$4,000)H6: Michael Lowe (Aus) 17.4 def. Danny Wills (Aus) 16.85H7: Kalani Robb (Haw) 19.75 def. Nathan Hedge (Aus) 16.4H8: CJ Hobgood (USA) 20.35 def. Simon Nicholson (SAfr) 20.0H9: Beau Emerton (Aus) 21.9 def. Sunny Garcia (Haw) 21.5H10: Joel Parkinson (Aus) 24.9 def. Trent Munro (Aus) 21.5H11: Greg Emslie (SAfr) 20.5 def. Peterson Rosa (Brz) 18.7H12: Pat O’Connell (USA) 22. 0 def. Richard Lovett (Aus) 17.15H13: Mark Bannister (Aus) 22. 0 def. Cory Lopez (USA) 21.9H14: Taylor Knox (USA) 19.1 def. Luke Hitchings (Aus) 8.75H15: Luke Egan (Aus) 0.0 advanced past Sasha Stocker (Aus) 0.0 inj.H16: Shea Lopez (USA) vs. Taj Burrow (Aus) Taylor Knox (USA) 16.75 def. Mark Bannister (Aus) 16.1H8: Shea Lopez (USA) 17.5 def. Luke Egan (Aus) 8.8

Round Three (losers finish =17th and receive US$4,000)H6: Michael Lowe (Aus) 17.4 def. Danny Wills (Aus) 16.85H7: Kalani Robb (Haw) 19.75 def. Nathan Hedge (Aus) 16.4H8: CJ Hobgood (USA) 20.35 def. Simon Nicholson (SAfr) 20.0H9: Beau Emerton (Aus) 21.9 def. Sunny Garcia (Haw) 21.5H10: Joel Parkinson (Aus) 24.9 def. Trent Munro (Aus) 21.5H11: Greg Emslie (SAfr) 20.5 def. Peterson Rosa (Brz) 18.7H12: Pat O’Connell (USA) 22. 0 def. Richard Lovett (Aus) 17.15H13: Mark Bannister (Aus) 22. 0 def. Cory Lopez (USA) 21.9H14: Taylor Knox (USA) 19.1 def. Luke Hitchings (Aus) 8.75H15: Luke Egan (Aus) 0.0 advanced past Sasha Stocker (Aus) 0.0 inj.H16: Shea Lopez (USA) vs. Taj Burrow (Aus)