Hawaii surfers, Zietz, Florence go head to head in France

I had planned to do a little Major League Baseball playoff preview, but here we are on the final day of the season and the postseason matchups are still up in the air. The Indians, Rangers and Rays are all still fighting for a pair of American League Wild Card spots. The Pirates gained home-field advantage in the upcoming one-game Wild Card game against the Reds, but the Dodgers and Braves are still each in the mix for best record in the National League. The Red Sox know they’ll be playing at home, but not who they’ll be playing.

It’s tough to preview and predict when circumstances are anything but certain, so I’ll wait until Wednesday to make my thoughts public. Let’s just say that I have a feeling the west coast will be happy once the World Series rolls around…

The eighth stop on the Association of Surfing Professionals world tour completed two rounds of action on Friday. The Quiksilver Pro France called a lay day Saturday and will resume at the Le Penon break when conditions improve.

Kauai’s Sebastian Zietz is one of 24 surfers remaining and will be going head-to-head with Oahu’s John John Florence in Round 3. Zietz took third in his opening three-man non-elimination heat, but it was no ordinary third-place finish. The conditions were providing some big scores on the opening day and Zietz paddled out with CJ Hobgood and Patrick Gudauskas. Fresh off a quarterfinal appearance at Trestles, Gudauskas took first in the heat with a 16.17 total. He just outpointed Hobgood (15.33) and Seabass (15.26), who were each forced into the Round 2 elimination heats.

Round 1 winners were Kieren Perrow, Fredrick “Freddy P” Patacchia, Taj Burrow, Morocco’s Ramzi Boukhiam, Kelly Slater, Kolohe Andino, Julian Wilson, Filipe Toledo, Gudauskas, Miguel Pupo, Jeremy Flores and Adrian “Ace” Buchan. Those 12 all jumped directly into Round 3.

Zietz had to go up against Australia’s Bede Durbidge, hoping to avoid an Equal 25th finish. It ended up being a wire-to-wire win for Seabass, as he started out with an 8.67 on his first wave, just minutes into the heat.

Durbidge was still in the mix, needing a high 8 or 9 to gain the lead, until Zietz blasted an 8.93 put the Aussie in combo territory. It ended with Zietz taking the 17.60 to 15.43 victory and moving on to face off with John John.

Many of the usual names made it through Round 2 with few surprises. Wild card entry Aritz Aranburu did pull off one upset by knocking out Australian Josh Kerr. His reward? A head-to-head matchup with Kelly Slater in Round 3. Mick Fanning, Jordy Smith, Joel Parkinson, Adriano De Souza, Alejo Muniz, Michel Bourez, Brett Simpson, Kai Otton and Gabriel Medina all won their heats to advance with Zietz and Aranburu.

Fanning currently holds a slim lead in the World Championship race, with Slater a close second.

Zietz is in 16th and looking to add some solid points to assure re-qualification by finishing in the Top 22.

Hopefully you’re reading this next to a story about the Rainbow Warriors getting their first win of the football season.

I don’t have the result before writing, but I can’t say I’m overly optimistic they’ll be able to upset No. 25 Fresno State. I’d like to be wrong.

More surf and baseball talk coming on Wednesday. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

• ‘My Thoughts Exactly’ appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays in The Garden Island. Email David Simon your comments or questions to dsimon@thegardenisland.com. Follow David on Twitter @SimonTGI

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