Jamie O'Brien Wins Wild Card Billabong Pro Teahupoo!
Hawaiian hotshot Jamie O'Brien has declared he's ready to take down Australia's world surfing champion Mick Fanning at next month's Billabong Pro after winning a wildcard into the event.
O'Brien, the 2006 Pipeline Masters champion, snatched victory from talented Brazilian Bruno Santos in the trials final contested in 2.5 metre waves at the treacherous Teahupoo reef break as he nailed a perfect ten-point ride in the last 40 seconds.
The brash Hawaiian faces a tough task in round one, pitted against countryman Pancho Sullivan and Mick Fanning, who is third in the current ratings behind eight-time world champion Kelly Slater and Queenslander Bede Durbidge.
"I'm not worried about it, barrel riding is what I do," O'Brien said.
"I travel the world so I can go and surf barrels. I'm down for the main event, I'll take them down."
It was a gutsy effort from Santos to put himself in contention in the decider after the 25-year-old was crushed in a close-out tube in his semi-final against Australia's Damien Wills.
Santos smashed into his surfboard, causing a nasty gash to his upper thigh, but simply taped the wound and then fought bravely in the 30-minute final against O'Brien.
He also earned a wildcard into the main event, the third on the world tour, starting May 8.
Wills placed third in Tuesday's trials and will start as first alternate for the Billabong Pro should any of the world's top 45 surfers withdraw from the contest.
American star Slater will take an iron grip on the world title race if he wins at the Teahupoo break after claiming the Australian leg of the 11-event tour with victories on the Gold Coast and Bells Beach, Victoria.