A New Duel / Can a Tenacious Taj Close in on Parkos Lead?
And just like that, after an upset-riddled Billabong Pro Tahiti, the race for the title became wide open. Kelly’s no longer a viable threat to the tour after suffering a trifecta of 17ths. That leaves Parko and Taj in the driver’s seat on their road to ASP gold - a fitting fight between mates if there ever was one.
Taking one look at Joel Parkinson this year, and you know he wants that title bad. He’s got less body fat on him than an Eastern European runway model and he’s got more fire raging in his eyes than a pyromaniac. Going into Teahupoo, he looked divine and the man to beat with back-to-back wins at Snapper and Bells. But the upsets at the Billabong Pro tore through the World Tour’s upper-echelon like a Midwestern cyclone in a trailer park; relegating Parko to a round three dismissal and leaving the door open for a very hungry young Western Australian who refuses to quit his quest.
Of all of the ASP’s elite that could have capitalized on the fallings of Slater, Fanning, and Parko, it was Taj Burrow who took on an inspired Bobby Martinez in the final. Despite an exceptionally strong performance, Burrow would fall to Martinez who surfed a nearly flawless heat, opening up with an impressive 8.73 and shortly after pulling a Houdini-like 9.73 out of his hat. It netted the highest heat total of the event, an 18.46 out of a possible 20.
But hey, a second-place ai’nt that bad either. With his runner-up finish at Teahupoo in the books, Burrow has moved up the rating’s points into the number-two seed. From the looks of it, Taj is already primed to lay siege in the battle for the World title. Heading into the next WCT Tour stop in Brazil, he looks fired up and appears to be revving on all cylinders.
“I’ve had two keepers [this year] in terms of results and I’m hungry,” Burrow said. “I’m still kicking and I’m looking to win…I feel really strong at and I’m going to do whatever it takes to win. I’m stoked to get a result at Teahupoo, I haven’t done well here in a few years so it sets me up really well for the rest of the year.”
If there’s anyone who can attest to the title race heating up, it’s Occy. As a man who’s been on the tour in one form or another for more than two decades, he’s seen a lot of horses and ran in a lot of races. Over time, he’s proven an invaluable indicator for professional surfing
“It’s going to be a close year for sure with Parko, Taj, and Mick all in the game,” said Occy. “It’s going to be hard to say who’s going to win, but it looks like it’s going to be the year of the natural-footer.” In the first two laps of this year’s derby Parko’s lead looked insurmountable. After Tahiti, Taj’s tenacity proves it’s still a real race.
Source: Billabong USA
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