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Burrow's Patience Pays at U.S. Open

August 02, 2004|Dan Arritt | Times Staff Writer

The men's title at the U.S. Open of Surfing was still up for grabs late in the final Sunday afternoon in Huntington Beach. All that was needed was Mother Nature's cooperation.

She came through for Taj Burrow with slightly more than a minute remaining in the 30-minute heat, giving him the wave he needed to produce a score of 7.03. It was the highest wave score of the final and lifted him into the lead. Unlike last year, he didn't let it slip away.

Burrow, from western Australia, won the contest with a two-wave score of 13.50, followed by countryman Trent Munro with 12.70 points. Defending champion Cory Lopez of Florida was third with 12.33, and up-and-coming Hawaiian Fred Patacchia Jr. was fourth with 10.46.

In addition to his runner-up finish last year, Burrow was edged out late in a semifinal two years ago by Munro.

"I've always had a lot of good results here," said Burrow, 26, who finished third on the World Championship Tour last year. "I've just never won."

Munro, 25, of New South Wales, also knew what it was like to just miss winning the U.S. Open. He finished second in 2002, just 2.06 points behind winner Kalani Robb of Hawaii. A victory would have helped him make up more ground in the World Qualifying Series, where he finished second a year ago.

"[The win] got pulled away in a matter of seconds," said Munro, who came into the event tied for 37th with Lopez on the tour. "I guess it still shows there's room for improvement."

Munro moved into the lead with about 10 minutes remaining in the final, scoring a 6.0. But Burrow surged in front with about 85 seconds remaining in the final, picking up a left and snapping three hard turns off the lip as he headed toward the pier.

"I knew it was there for the taking," Burrow said. "I kind of knew the lead would change at the end."

Burrow held the lead last year during the final, only to see Lopez produce two waves around 7.0 to knock him down to second. Burrow said he wasn't taking anything for granted late in the final.

"I just had to sit there and hope the ocean went flat for 30 seconds," he said.

Lopez, 27, who moved to Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., from San Clemente when he was 18, had his best heat of the event in the semifinals, earning wave scores of 7.50 and 8.83. He didn't have much to work with in the final, however.

"The waves got pretty tough," he said.

Tim Reyes of Huntington Beach had the best finish of his short career. Reyes, 22, won his morning quarterfinal heat before his run ended in the semifinals against Munro and Lopez.

Reyes, who was born in San Bernardino and graduated from Huntington Beach Edison High, should make a nice leap up the World Qualifying Series standings. He began the competition ranked No. 56 and needs to finish in the top 16 to qualify for the tour next year. He could find himself in the high teens or low 20s today.

Reyes opened his semifinal with a wave score of 6.0, but Lopez strung together his high scores to take a commanding lead and Munro slipped into second with back-to-back scores of 6.87 and 6.07.

"It was a rough one," he said. "I didn't have a really high-scoring wave. I needed a 6.9, and it really didn't open up for me."

In addition to his quarterfinal victory, Reyes won heats Thursday and Friday that included two-time defending world champion and current tour points leader Andy Irons.

Brendan White of San Clemente won the men's longboard title. Jean Da Silva of Brazil won the junior competition.

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