Can you call a 3rd place finish a disappointment? We'll leave that up to you, but after Joel Parkinson lost in the semifinals of the Rip Curl Pro Search (and Mick Fanning won), the pressure is most certainly on him going into the final event of the 2009 ASP World Tour, the Billabong Pro Pipeline Masters.
For Parko to win his maiden ASP World Title the following needs to happen:
• If Fanning finishes 33rd through a 9th at Pipeline, Parkinson needs a 3rd or better to overtake.
• If Fanning finishes 5th at Pipeline, Parkinson needs a 2nd or better to overtake.
• If Fanning finishes 3rd at Pipeline, Parkinson needs win the event to overtake.
• If Fanning finishes 2nd or better at Pipeline, he will clinch the 2009 ASP World Title.
And how about Mick Fanning? Three wins in four events? The pessimist (and baseball fan) in me says "Check him for performance enhancing substances!" but I'm pretty sure his incredible win is the result of intense training and focus mixed in with a bit of good ol' fashioned luck -- it didn't hurt that he didn't have to surf against wildcard Owen Wright after he was injured yesterday. Yeah, I know it's been said a million times before, but Fanning is on fire! In the Rip Curl Pro Search alone, he surfed in a variety of conditions, ranging from two-foot lefts to thundering, eight-foot, board snapping barrels. No slouch at Pipeline -- especially Backdoor -- Mick Fanning is in the driver seat and punching it full speed ahead, and with Parko right behind him, surf fans are in for a real treat come the Pipeline Masters!