For some, the game of pool is learned in the back rooms of dark, seedy establishments, while others only know of it because of legends like "Minnesota Fats" Rudolf Walter Wanderone Jr., or "The Black Widow" Jeanette Lee.
Then others, like Skyler Woodward, learned the game from family.
"My dad got me started," said Woodward, 20, a 2011 graduate of Livingston Central High. "He took me out to pool rooms around town and started teaching me the game. I also have a pool table at home so I got to play all the time. So after I learned, I just played all the time and got to where I'm at now."
Woodward â “ who's been playing pool for 11 years and turned professional in the past year â “ is ranked 54th in the country by the Billiard Congress of America (BCA) rankings and is 14th on the AZBilliards.com money list.
He got his season off to a great start in Elizabeth, Ind., by winning the Derby City Classic 2014 Bank Pool Ring Game on Jan. 31, where he pocketed a cool $6,000. That week he also participated in the Derby City Classic 2014 One-Pocket Division from Jan. 26-31 and took 13th place and came in 65th in the Derby City Classic 2014 9-Ball Banks Division held Jan. 24-27.
This past weekend, Woodward competed in the U.S. Bar Table Championships in Reno, Nev., and finished third in the Open 9-Ball division out of 152 players, fifth in Open 8-Ball division out of 222 players and 17th in the Open 10-Ball division out of 105 players.
During play in the Open 9-Ball division, Woodward played the BCA's top-ranked player, Shane Van Boening, and lost 5-4. But he came back and beat Van Boening in the Open 8-Ball division, 5-4.
"I used to play in a lot of local tournaments around home and realized people were challenging me to get out and go play in bigger tournaments and try to do something in pool," Woodward said. "So at 15 and 16 years old I started going to play in the bigger tournaments and started doing well. So I just decided to keep going and play in the biggest ones I can and I've just done better and better."
Woodward admits it's different playing and beating older players but said he's not intimidated doing so.
"It feels good beating older players, but they didn't like it," he said. "I just like beating people older than me."
His biggest hope is to keep playing professionally and make a career out of it.
"I'd like to," Woodward said. "I'd love to make this my career, because I love the game. I'd like to do it forever or at least as long as I can."
Call James D. Horne, a Sun sports writer, at 270-575-8661 or follow him on Twitter @bigdog_jamesd.
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