Mick Fanning overtakes Joel Parkinson to lead ASP World Tour
A month ago Joel Parkinson held a commanding lead in the ASP World Tour standings and seemed a lock to win his first world title.
Today, after an early exit during the Billabong Pro Mundaka in Spain, Parkinson is in second place behind fellow Australian Mick Fanning, who has advanced to the third round of the contest and is seeking his second world title.
“I’m not thinking about it at all,” said Fanning, who defeated South Africa's David Weare in the second round, with surf running 2-5 feet. “It’s just one heat. If you want to win the world title, you have to win heats and that’s all I’m working on. I’ve got a long way to go. It’s unfortunate for Joel that he got another bad result, but he’s still right there and it’s going to come down to the wire.”
The Billabong Pro, which has been plagued by lack of surf, is the eighth of 10 World Tour competitions. Parkinson opened the season with consecutive victories and added a third triumph at Jeffreys Bay in South Africa in July. Since then he has lost in the second round three consecutive times, most recently to Australia's Drew Courtney.
“The top seeds may be battling for the world title, but we’re battling for requalification so we’re not giving anything away,” Courtney said. “It’s a super important event for me and I was stoked to get a couple of good waves under my belt out there. I’m feeling confident and looking forward to the next one.”
Fanning, whose nickname is "White Lightning," won two consecutive contests to climb back into the race, and by advancing to the third round in Spain he climbed 44 points ahead of Parkinson in what seems to be a two-man race for the title. Fanning won the title in 2007.
Fanning will battle Hawaiian goofy-footer Fredrick Patacchia when the third round commences, possibly Tuesday. If conditions warrant, organizers will run the event, which had gone six days without competition before Monday, through completion on Tuesday.
-- Pete Thomas
Photo: Mick Fanning has overtaken fellow Australian Joel Parkinson in the ASP standings. Credit: Kirstin Scholtz / ASP/Getty Images