Pagulayan Crowned World Champion

Alex Pagulayan

Canada's Alex Pagulayan, a runner-up last year, is the 2004 Taiwan World Pool Champion after a marvellous come from behind 17 – 13 victory over local hope Pei-wei Chang.

Pagulayan, who trailed 10 – 4 at one stage, put in a superb performance as he came on strong down the home straight to get the better of Chang.

Chang, who was an unfancied player from a country that boasts the likes of Chao, Yang and Hsia, looked good in the early stages as he made the most of a solid break and some positive potting.

Pagulayan, though, who has had more second place finishes than he cares to remember, was patient though as he sat in his chair and waited for his chance.

That came when he was 13 – 11 down and Chang played too loose a push out shot from which Pagulayan pocketed the 1 ball.

From there he gained the momentum he needed and reeled off the next six racks to take the title and with it a cheque for $75,000.

"This is my first beer in two weeks," he smiled at his post-match press conference. "The best beer I've ever had."

"The TV break before the last rack felt like an hour - I wanted to get it over with, I couldn't take any more pressure! This was the game I've been waiting to win my whole life."

"I couldn't sleep at all last night, I was thinking about Pei-Wei all the time," said the effervescent Filipino-Canadian before adding dryly, "Well, he's so good-looking!"

"I was in the zone in the semi-final but felt like something was missing at the start. All my good friends had been saying, ‘You're going to win' so that was extra pressure.

"I was cold and I needed to get in stroke. It didn't happen until 11-5. It feels twice as good to win from behind, picking off racks like cherries one at a time.

"I wasn't getting any luck on the break early on so I switched to the soft break when I was 11-7 down. I just had to change something, but once I'd started to make a few run-outs, I went back to the hard break, because soft breaking is bad TV I didn't want people saying I won because of it.

"The key shot was Pei-Wei's miss on the 2-ball when he was up 11-7. I was thinking, ‘Punish him, punish him.'

“From there I got it to 11-11 but missed an easy 2-ball and I wanted to kill myself… with a shotgun so it would be over quick!"

Asked about what he plans to spend his $75,000 first prize, Pagulayan joked, "Are there any casinos round here?" before admitting that he would use $30,000 dollars to clear debts.

"I actually had a large side bet on myself to win the event, " he added. "I'd practised so hard, did not drink at all and I felt that after reaching the final last year, this was my time."

Pagulayan had defeated four Chinese Taipei players in the knockout phase, and placed them second-only to the Filipinos as the most dangerous players in the world.

"They are lovely players to watch. I've played money matches against them before and I've never beaten any of them!"

His defeated opponent Chang was disappointed but said he was pleased to reach the final.

"I was among the worst in group play, he said, “so to get this far was good, but I thought I would win today. But when I went ahead in the match, my mind was racing instead of concentrating on the table."

Chang was delighted with his $35,000 prize and was already making plans to open up a new business and make a down-payment on a house."

Photo courtesy of Matchroom Sport