Drago, Dragon Take Titles

Tony Drago of Malta is making a splash in 9-ball circles after years as a snooker pro. He gave the 9-ball world his notice by reaching the semi-finals of the WPA World Pool Championships earlier in the summer, and now he’s proved his worth with a first-place finish at the 2003 World Pool Masters, in Egmond aan Zee, Holland. Drago defeated Taiwan’s Hui-kai Hsia, 8-6, in a tense battle highlighted by a handful of Drago’s lightning-fast run-outs. To get to the final, Drago took matches from Earl Strickland, Nick van den Berg and Alex Pagulayan. The 37-year-old potter was elated by his success. “To win this was something else for me. I enjoyed it so much, and the crowd here were fantastic — the best in the world. I’m starting to play more and more, and 9-ball will be a big part of my future,” he told event promoter Matchroom Sport. Drago’s win earned him $20,000.

On the other side of the ocean, American pool pro Charlie Williams was busy winning his second title within a two-week span. Williams’ 13-8 victory over Ronnie Wiseman in the finals of the 2003 Capital City Classic, comes right on the heels of his Big Apple 9-Ball Challenge win last week in New York City. To take the Capital City win, Williams powered through 9 straight games after being sent to the losers’ side by Wiseman early in the tournament. Williams took $8,500 for first place, while Wiseman settled for $4,700. Cory Deuel and Luc Salvas took third and fourth, respectively.

Williams Beats Reyes for Big Apple Title

Williams' cues may be up in the air, but his game is rock solid.

Williams’ cues may be up in the air, but his game is rock solid.

Charlie Williams went undefeated at the Big Apple 9-Ball Challenge, Aug. 15-17 at Master Billiards in Queens, New York. Williams took the title in the final over Efren Reyes, 13-8. His win came right on the heels of an 11-9 hot-seat victory over Reyes.

Williams’ back-to-back wins over “The Magician” were all the more impressive because he played every game with a borrowed cue. Williams’ plane was rerouted to Connecticut because his flight was in the air at the time of the blackout that affected many cities in the Eastern U.S. and Canada, and in the confusion, his luggage (including his cues) was lost.

Williams took home $12,000 for the win, while Reyes settled for $7,000. In third was Rodney Morris for $4,500; Jose Parica took fourth place and $3,000 and Francisco Bustamante and Alex Pagulayan tied at fifth for $2,000 apiece.

Germany’s Hohmann Surprises the World!

Hohmann's amazing dedication to the game paid off in a public way.

Hohmann’s amazing dedication to the game paid off in a public way.

In an unlikely match-up of underdog contenders, Germany’s youthful Thorsten Hohmann defeated Canada’s diminutive Alex Pagulayan, 16-10, in the title match of the 2003 empirepoker.com World Pool Championship, July 20.

Hohmann controlled the match, running out three times in the first eight games, to gain a 6-2 lead, and holding his lead through the rest of the match. “I don’t know what to say,” said the overwhelmed Hohmann, whose hands partially covered a face that suddenly matched the bright red golf shirt he wore for the final. “I may not realize what I did for a few days.”

Danny Hewitt Takes 10-Ball Crown

Danny Hewitt of Montreal, Quebec, defeated Hall-of-famer Jim Rempe in a tense hill-hill match, 10-9, to take the title at the Trump Marina 10-Ball Challenge in Atlantic City, N.J., held Feb. 19-23.

Hewitt was fresh off a second-place finish at the Joss Northeast 9-ball tour’s stop at Cap’s Cue Club in Syracuse, N.Y., where he had met defeat in the form of Alex Pagulayan.

On his way to the 10-ball win, Hewitt got his revenge over Pagulayan. He lost his first match to fellow Canadian Claude Bernatchez (winner of this year’s Senior Masters Tournament) before plowing through the likes of Luc Salvas, Pagulayan, Ronnie Alcano, and Francisco Bustamante, to name a few. Rempe, for his part, defeated Hungarian star Sandor Tot, Pagulayan, and Earl Strickland, among others, to earn his shot at the big prize.

Hewitt earned $20,000 for coming out on top while Rempe took home $14,000 for second place; Alcano and Bustamante rounded out the top four spots.

Derby City Starts Off With a Bang

Harriman is enjoying a streak of good fortune.

Harriman is enjoying a streak of good fortune.

With around 350 players participating in at least one division, The Derby City Classic in Louisville, Kentucky, has something for everyone. As the fourth round of the one-pocket division gets underway, the Derby City Classic has already produced one winner.

The 9-ball banks competition has wrapped up after four days, and Danny Harriman of Springfield, Mo., came out on top. Fresh off his first-ever pro tour win at the Predator UPA Pro Tour Championship, Dec. 8, Harriman seems to be on a roll. He defeated Steve McAninch of Toledo, Ohio, 3-0, in the final after making judicious use of the Derby City’s buy-back option to get back into the action and win.

Round four of the one-pocket division is now underway, and Alex Pagulayan, Charlie Williams, and Nick Varner, among others, are all contenders for the title.

Souquet Wins U.S. Open

Ralf, triumphant.

Ralf, triumphant.

In a mad dash to hold off pesky challenger Alex Pagualyan and complete the final match before Pay-Per-View satellite feeds went “to black,” Germany’s Ralf Souquet scored a heart-pounding 13-11 win in the final of the 27th U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship in Chesapeake, Va., Sunday night.

Souquet’s triumph over the Canadian contender was completed just three minutes before the plug was to be pulled on pool’s first pay-per-view effort, and brought the normally emotionless German to his knees in exultation.

In winning his first U.S. Open title, Souquet earned $30,000 from the $150,000 prize fund. Pagualyan, the 24-year-old Canadian-by-way-of-the-Philippines, played 11 consecutive matches in the loser’s bracket of the 215-player field, and earned $15,000 for his efforts. Five-time U.S. Open champion (and reigning WPA World 9-Ball Champion) Earl Strickland finished third ($10,000), followed by Hawaiian Rodney Morris ($7,000).