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Steve Hayes wasn’t in the shallow end of the pool. HolePlay was a bit more difficult for the ACO Pro. He had to face two of the final three semifinalists in round robin HolePlay. His only losses in HolePlay were to Chad Avery, who went undefeated in HolePlay.

“He got me 2-0 in pool play,” said Hayes about Avery. “He’s a good pitcher. Very good.”

Hayes’ path to victory didn’t get any easier in the double elimination Bracket Challenge. Hayes defeated Illinois’ Bobby Johnson, then had to face Chad Avery in the second round. Hayes avenged himself and sent Avery to the loser’s bracket. His resurgence carried him to the championship finals, where he met Avery for the fourth time.

Avery had battled through the loser’s bracket to face Hayes in the championship. He had to beat Hayes twice to secure the championship title.

Hayes took the early two point lead and never let Avery take full control of the match. Hayes would go up by two, then Avery would tie the game the following frame. At times Hayes left open the door for Avery to take the lead, but the bags didn’t fall where Avery needed them to fall.

Two shots stood out in the match. The first shot happened halfway through the match. Hayes and Avery had exchanged cornholes. Then, Hayes threw a blocker, but it didn’t stop Avery from pushing Hayes’ bag aside for another cornhole. Hayes had to nail a two bagger to keep Avery from taking the lead, but his bag on the board was closer to the star logo emblem than the hole. Hayes pitched his bag stick-side down. The bag landed directly flat on top of the existing bag and sent both bags sliding into the hole. It was more like a ride than a push. It allowed Hayes to maintain match momentum.

The second shot was the final shot of the match. Avery had two bags leaning into the hole. An airmail would give him a three bagger and keep him in the match. The pitch and trajectory were perfect. The bag landed directly in the center of the hole, but the result wasn’t what Avery needed. Avery put two hands on his knees in disbelief and looked at the three red bags stuffed in the hole like a blooming onion.

“I pulled it out,” said Hayes, “but it was tough.”

Steve Hayes is a ACO-Pro. He had already earned his Golden Ticket into the King of Cornhole at the ACO World Championships because every ACO Pro earned a Golden Ticket from the ACO Reloaded season. So the Golden Ticket went to the next person who hadn’t won a Golden Ticket… Chad Avery. Now, there is a chance these men will cross paths at the ACO World Championships.

“I think you’ll see him on the circuit before long,” said Hayes about Avery. “I may run into him again. He’s a tough one, for sure.”

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