Snooker ace no slouch on the links

BILLY POWERS

, Last Updated: 7:29 AM ET

It was almost the week that wasn't for this golfer. I'd yet to tee it up this year, but hoped to catch up a bit in a hurry by booking three times.

I had a playing lesson set for Tuesday at McKenzie Meadows with Scott Orban, the director of golf. The plan was four or five hours with a pro and a few tips, with the goal of lowering a handicap that grew considerably toward the end of last season.

It didn't happen due to dropping temperatures, but it may be for the best. Last time we met, Scotty's final advice for me was to take two weeks off golf and then quit the game.

On Thursday, my calendar was cleared for the already-once-postponed Riley's media manager's event and another chance to spend a few quality hours with my good friend Billy Creighton.

The draw is conducted in secret, but for at least 20 years, the names Creighton and Powers always seem to come out at the same time.

No hanky panky, though. We're going to give it another shot in June, I think, if the snow hasn't returned by then.

Now to Friday, which began with all the earmarks of a third straight wipe-out. When my alarm sounded at 4 a.m., I looked out the window and could see nothing but snow falling.

This, it seemed, would put the kibosh on a game with the best snooker player Canada ever produced in Cliff Thorburn, a world champ in men's singles in 1980 and a superstar in his chosen game.

GOOD COMPANY

The group had been set up by Thorburn's friend Jack Nemeth and Jay Fotie, an old buddy of mine, so we decided to meet for lunch and a coolie and hoped to get lucky.

We did. The Cottonwood pro shop sent a threesome off at 12:10 p.m., and gave us the high sign at 12:22 p.m. Less than four hours later, golf game No. 1 was in the books.

I've played golf with many interesting people, like Hollywood actors, the mayor, the premier, superstar athletes and millionaires in a city of big money. Thorburn is another I will remember forever.

First off, he can play the game -- as a round of 88 with nine pars might indicate -- but his record on felt is a wee bit better than on the immaculate greens at Cottonwood.

In addition to his world singles title more than 25 years ago, Thorburn also won the World Masters in Australia in 1974 and the World Mixed in 1981 with Natalie Stelmach.

Thorburn was also part of two winning Canadian entries at the World Team event, claiming the title in 1982 with Bill Werbeniuk and Kirk Stevens, and again in 1990 with Alaine Robidoux and Bob Chaperon.

He won the Canadian singles title no less than 14 times and has displayed his snooker playing talents in 34 countries, now making the occasional public appearance like he did this past week at Ranchman's.

PURSUIT OF PERFECTION

A perfect game in snooker is potting all 15 red balls and following with the black ball and then the six coloured balls in order for a total score of 147 points.

Thorburn told me he quit counting at around 60, but was the first to post two perfect games during a world championship -- a record that has since been broken by several. He does have five scores of 147 at the world level.

After learning I was not happy to have missed his trick-shot talents while he was in town, he conceded and made a neighbourhood pub stop at Shuckaluck's, where he put on a 30-minute show that I can tell you dazzled a few. Even at 60, he hasn't lost it.

It's worth noting, too, the aforementioned Nemeth met Thorburn years back when he was part of a snooker team in Brooks that set a world record for the longest game. They played for almost a week, a record that has since been broken many times over but is interesting just the same.


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