Florence close to clinching second consecutive world title
Top-ranked John John Florence is getting ultra close to a second straight world championship and it’s possible the Haleiwa surfer could get it done if competition resumes today at the Rip Curl Pro Portugal.
Only three other World Surf League championship tour competitors have a shot — No. 2 Jordy Smith of South Africa, No. 3 Gabriel Medina of Brazil and No. 6 Julian Wilson of Australia.
There are two scenarios in which the 25-year-old Florence can wrap up the 2017 world title:
>> If he wins the Rip Curl Pro Portugal, which is the second to last stop of 11 on the tour.
>> If he makes the final and Medina does not.
In all other cases, the world championship will be decided at the Billabong Pipe Pro (Dec. 8-20) at Ehukai Beach on Oahu’s North Shore.
On Sunday, four world-title contenders dropped out of the chase with losses at Supertubos in Peniche, Portugal — No. 4 Owen Wright and No. 5 Matt Wilkinson of Australia, and No. 7 Adriano de Souza and No. 8 Filipe Toledo of Brazil.
Medina, Smith and Wilson remained in the hunt behind Florence with third-round victories Sunday. Florence also won his heat that day and is awaiting his fourth-round battle against Kolohe Andino of San Clemente, Calif., and Connor O’Leary of Australia.
If Florence is unable to clinch, Medina’s, Smith’s and Wilson’s chances of earning the world title increase with their level of success in Portugal as it goes from the fourth round to the fifth round, quarterfinals, semifinals and final.
Monday was a lay day at the event. A call on whether the conditions at Subertubos are good enough for competition today was expected Monday at 9 p.m. Hawaii time.