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Irrepressible Pagulayan Wins Second Major in All-Filipino U.S. Open Final
Sep 25, 2005, 10:46 PM

Alex Pagulayan ran undefeated through a 256-man field to win the 30th Annual U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships, which this year could well have been called "The Philippine Open" after placing three Filipinos in the top three spots.

"A win is a win is a win," an ebullient Pagulayan said after beating Jose Parica in an error-filled final, 11-6. Parica had knocked Francisco Bustamante out of the running in the losers'-bracket final, 11-10.

Pagulayan first beat Parica in the winners'-bracket final, 11-6, and then earned the $40,000 top prize by taking advantage of a Parica miss on the 4 in the 17th rack of the finals. It was a dream come true for the tiny Canadian-by-way-of-the-Philippines, and his second major title after winning the 2004 World Pool Championship.

"The only dream I have left is to grow another two inches - either taller or the other way, I don't care," the irrepressible Clown Prince of Pool joked.

It was a bittersweet win for a couple reasons. Parica failed again to take the title after reaching the semis of the U.S. Open several times, and the finals at least twice. And Pagulayan, perhaps the most talented player of his generation, said after the event that he has all but forsaken mainstream U.S. pool events for poker - both tournament play and online gaming.

"The money is terrible," he said, echoing a longtime lament of many top pool pros. "I can make a lot more playing poker." For the time being, Pagulayan expected only to compete in the States at the Derby City Classic and U.S. Open.

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