Florence tamed four-to-six foot (one-and-a-half-to-two metre) waves with impossibly long barrels on his backhand to score a tournament high heat score of 19.30 out of a possible 20 as he eased past Adrian Buchan of Australia in the third round.
“I’m still reeling from those waves,” said the 19-yearold, making his first trip to the South Pacific competition.
“This has been the best trip of my life and the waves we’ve had have been some of the best of my life too.
“Yesterday we had Cloudbreak about as big and perfect as it gets and today we’re getting four barrels a wave at Restaurants. It’s unbelievable.”
Florence then went on to a score a perfect single wave score of 10 with another backhand barrel as he took out Damian Hobgood and Taj Burrow in the fourth round.
“I didn’t have the best heat but I had that one really good wave,” Florence said.
“The world title is always on your mind if you’re on this tour. I’ve thought about it but usually just focus on the heat in front of me.”
Reigning 11-times ASP world champion Kelly Slater also enjoyed a sensational morning heat before recording a perfect 10 in the afternoon, first beating Hawaiian Fredrick Patacchia in the third round before downing Owen Wright and Heitor Alves in the fourth.
“That was a lot of fun,” said the American. “It’s a little anti-climactic after what went down yesterday but it’s really fun at Restaurants and there are some nice barrels.
“It’s a little tricky, you’ve got to watch the waves because there are some big sets coming in and the medium ones are better.
“Freddy beat me out here once and I got him once but it doesn’t matter who it is, whoever gets the good waves is probably going to win the heat. You’ve got to try and pick a line and stick to it. You can get deep in the barrel, a lot deeper than you think.”
Brazilian teenager Gabriel Medina scored the update of the day, snatching a last-gasp shock win over Australian duo Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning to force them into the elimination round five.
Medina, who knocked out compatriot Alejo Muniz in the third round, picked a smaller wave in the dying minutes of their fourth round heat, producing a series of forehand turns and aerials over dry reef to score 7.83 out of a possible 10 and progress.
“I had so much fun out there,” Medina said. “It was a fun heat against Alejo (Muniz). He’s a good friend of mine and I got a couple of fun ones and got a couple of barrels. I just went for it. The waves are so perfect and I just tried to surf and have fun out there.”
VOLCOM FIJI PRO ROUND 3 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 15.00 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 10.00
Heat 2: John John Florence (HAW) 19.30 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.67
Heat 3: Damien Hobgood (USA) 13.73 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.06
Heat 4: Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.00 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 2.36
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.93 def. Alejo Muniz (BRA) 7.80
Heat 6: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 18.00 def. Mitch Coleborn (AUS) 15.00
Heat 7: Kelly Slater (USA) 18.14 def. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 12.50
Heat 8: Heitor Alves (BRA) 13.90 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 10.87
Heat 9: Owen Wright (AUS) 19.27 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 4.00
Heat 10: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 17.33 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 17.13
Heat 11: Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.83 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 12.34
Heat 12: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.66 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 10.87
VOLCOM FIJI PRO ROUND 4 RESULTS:
Heat 1: John John Florence (HAW) 13.17, Damien Hobgood (USA) 11.94, Taj Burrow (AUS) 9.13
Heat 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.16, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 14.17, Mick Fanning (AUS) 10.50
Heat 3: Kelly Slater (USA) 18.33, Owen Wright (AUS) 17.90, Heitor Alves (BRA) 10.86
Heat 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.40, C.J. Hobgood (USA) 12.80, Julian Wilson (AUS) 10.40
VOLCOM FIJI PRO ROUND 5 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Mick Fanning (AUS)
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Taj Burrow (AUS)
Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. C.J. Hobgood (USA)
Heat 4: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Heitor Alves (BRA)