Jordy Smith still in running for ASP World Tour title at Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico
Jordy Smith is a man still standing. The South African is the only competitor keeping Floridian Kelly Slater from winning his 10th ASP World Tour championship.
Smith, currently ranked ASP World No. 2, halted any title celebrations Friday at the Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico with a comprehensive assault on 3- to 4-foot waves at the primary site in Porta Del Sol, winning his Round 3 and 4 heats to advance to the quarterfinals.
"The wind actually switched right at the start of our heat and it really opened up the waves," Smith said. "I knew there was the potential for barrels out there and I was fortunate to sneak into a few. No pressure. I’m just going out and doing what I love."
Despite the monumental task ahead, Smith remains positive about his approach to the remainder of the event, citing his enjoyment for the sport as a major motivation in his continued performance.
"I’m just trying to prove that I can surf pretty well," the 22-year-old said. "I think we all learned a lesson from Andy [Irons]: never have a down moment, always smile and enjoy what you do. I’m having fun and surfing the way I want to. I’m not really thinking about what Kelly is thinking, but I’m here to make him work for it."
Slater survived a hard-fought battle against local wildcard Dylan Graves in Round 3 and went on to best Brazilian Adriano de Souza, and Jeremy Flores, of France, in Round 4 to advance directly to the quarterfinals.
Slater has the opportunity to clinch an unprecedented 10th ASP Crown Saturday if Smith fails to finish higher than equal fifth.
"I’ve always had it in my head that Jordy is going to win this contest so I need at least a third," Slater said. "He’s been the most consistent guy all year and he’s in really good form. I’m not thinking about Jordy losing at all. I’m just focused on what I have to do."
The Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico has been called on Saturday morning with Round 5 heading out in clean 3-to 4-foot waves.
Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico Round 3 results:
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 13.16 def. Dusty Payne (USA) 9.00
Heat 2: Taylor Knox (USA) 14.10 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 11.73
Heat 3: Dane Reynolds (USA) 16.04 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 15.70
Heat 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 10.70 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 9.90
Heat 5: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 15.06 def. Bobby Martinez (USA) 12.84
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA) 14.50 def. Dylan Graves (PRI) 13.07
Heat 7: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.83 def. Gabe Kling (USA) 11.43
Heat 8: Chris Davidson (AUS) Advances Over Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) N/S
Heat 9: Owen Wright (AUS) 17.50 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 10.27
Heat 10: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 13.37 def. Dan Ross (AUS) 11.80
Heat 11: Michel Bourez (PYF) 15.33 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 14.54
Heat 12: Mick Fanning (AUS) 14.60 def. Roy Powers (HAW) 12.10
Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico Round 4 results:
Heat 1: Dane Reynolds (USA) 18.57, Taj Burrow (AUS) 14.23, Taylor Knox (USA) 13.70
Heat 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 13.20, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 11.42, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 9.60
Heat 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.80, Owen Wright (AUS) 14.26, Chris Davidson (AUS) 8.16
Heat 4: Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.70, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 13.53, Michel Bourez (PYF) 12.30
Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico Round 5 match-ups:
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 2: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Taylor Knox (USA)
Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Michel Bourez (PYF)
Heat 4: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Chris Davidson (AUS)
-- Kelly Burgess
Photo: Jordy Smith was a dominant performer in Rounds 3 and 4 at the Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico Friday and is the only man standing between Kelly Slater and ASP World Title No. 10. Credit: Kelly Cestari / ASP