Pagulayan Makes Incredible Comeback to Win World Pool Masters
World Pool Masters / Las Vegas, NV
by InsidePOOL Staff
Filipino billiard player Alex Pagulayan made an incredible comeback in the final match of the PartyPoker.net World Pool Masters, recovering from a 6-3 deficit to win 8-6 over Mika Immonen. This event was presented by Matchroom Sport and hosted by the Riviera Hotel Casino in Las Vegas, NV, the weekend of May 9-11.
In the first semifinal match of the evening, the all-Filipino cast of Alex Pagulayan and Francisco Bustamante traded rack for rack until the halfway point. Pagulayan won the lag and broke and ran out the first rack, while Bustamante got on the board in the next rack with a stupendous shot on the 2 ball off the rail. They traded the next six racks to knot the score at 4 apiece.
At that point, the match was all about “The Lion.” He double-kissed in the 1 ball in the ninth rack and cleared the table to take the lead, and then he came out ahead in a safety battle in the next rack to go up another game. Things started rocky for him in the following game when he fouled on an attempted push-out, but Bustamante ended up leaving a dead 2-9 billiard for Pagulayan to reach the hill. He came up dry on his break, but Bustamante tried for dramatic two-rail position to get on the 4 ball on the bottom rail and came up short and played safe behind the 5. Pagulayan tried for a two-way shot but left the 4 on the top rail, which Bustamante attempted to bank in. He almost fluked in the 6 ball but made neither. With only four balls remaining on the table, Pagulayan dished up to advance to the finals 8-4.
The second semifinal match started off ominously for Mika Immonen—when he won the lag but came up empty on his break, Ko Pin-yi attempted to play a kick safety on the 1 ball but fluked it in the side and then ran out the rest of the rack. The score seesawed to 4 each with some flawless play by both, but empty breaks stealing a bit of the thunder.
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Things fell apart for the young Taiwanese in the second half of the match, though. A scratch by Ko in the ninth rack led to Immonen taking the lead for the first time, and then the Finn had the first break and run-out of the match to make it 6-4. He came up dry on the next break, and Ko kicked in the 1 ball but got out of line for the 3 and badly missed a safety attempt. Immonen cleared that rack and then broke and ran out the final to win 8-4.
Pagulayan evidently did not bring his A-game to the first half of the finals, for he faltered from the get-go. He took first blood after Immonen kicked out of a safety and left a shot, but from there it was the Finn who was in charge. Pagulayan drove the 2 ball into the rail in the following game, and Immonen cleared that table and then dropped the 9 on his subsequent break to go up 2-1. He then hung the 9 on his next break and played a quick 2-9 combo.
Things looked bleak for the Filipino when Immonen reached a 6-3 lead, but fortune smiled upon Pagulayan when Immonen had an illegal break. Pagulayan not only cleared that rack but broke and ran the next three to reach the hill and retake the lead for the first time in this match since the first game. He came up empty on his next break and scratched, a tough knock to fade, but with ball in hand, Immonen shot in the 1 but drew the cue ball so far back, it sank into the corner pocket. Instantly revived, Pagulayan sprang up and cleared the table, emitting a whoop when he sank the last 9 ball.
Results:
1st Alex Pagulayan $20,000
2nd Mika Immonen $10,000
3rd Francisco Bustamante $5,000
Ko Pin-Yi
5th Rodney Morris $2,500
Imran Majid
Tony Drago
Corey Deuel
9th Thomas Engert $1,500
Mark Gray
Bruno Muratore
Shane Van Boening
Ralf Souquet
Niels Feijen
Christian Reimering
Daryl Peach