HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Wildcard upsets at day one of the Hurley Pro may have helped John John Florence get one step closer to a repeat title. Monday at Trestles saw World Championship chasing surfers, No. 3 Matt Wilkinson, and No. 4 Owen Wright, fall to Evan Geiselman and Hiroto Ohhara - both Qualifying Series surfers, putting their pursuit of a World Championship in jeopardy.
While Wilkinson and Wright were sent packing in round two elimination heats, Florence, and current top-ranked surfer, Jordy Smith, opened the competition with impressive performances as they continue to battle for the World Title.
In heat five of the opening round at Trestles, Florence compiled one of the round's highest scores, combining a 9.07 ride with 7.00. And the Pupukea-native would need nearly every point of that 16.07 first round score to win his heat. Italo Ferreira was hot on his heels with a 15.90. But with Florence's 16+ point performance, the 24-year old advanced safely past second round eliminations and secure a spot in the third.
Fellow Hawaii surfer, Sebastian Zeitz will join Florence in that round. Zeitz opened his competition with a 7.33 ride and followed that with a near-perfect 9.50 single wave score for the second-highest combined score of the day.
Ezekiel Lau will also live to see another day in competition at the Hurley Pro. The local boy carded the highest score in round two of the competition, also with 7.33 and 9.50 rides, defeating Ian Gouveia to move on.