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Headstring News
Jason Miller, the New Darling of Derby City, Joins Pagulayan on IPT
Jan 17, 2006, 3:49 PM


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Miller's Time: Jason dominated at Derby.
Itís wasnít too bad a week for Jason Miller, a sports bar owner from Dayton, Ohio.

After hardly playing pool for a year, Miller arrived at the Eighth Annual Derby City Classic and wrested the Master of the Table title and its $20,000 prize from perennial all-around champion Efren Reyes. Then he strolled undefeated through a tough-as-nails 46-player qualification tournament for the International Pool Tour and won a berth on the million-dollar 8-ball circuit for 2006.

So when we say Miller arrived at the nine-day Derby City Classic, held Jan. 5-14 at the Executive West Hotel in Louisville, Ky., we mean he really arrived.

"Iím extremely excited," Miller enthused. "This is great. The week was great Ö and then winning this card is just icing on the cake. Itís been a long ten days. A marathon. I just concentrate on one match at a time, and thatís about it. I got a good nightís sleep every night, didnít stay up late, no gambling matches. It was well worth it."

During the nine-day Derby endurance test, Miller won the 9-ball banks division, placed second in the one-pocket pack, and held on long enough for a 15th-place finish in the 9-ball contest. Reyes, who blitzed Miller 3-0 in the 20-minute one-pocket final, needed to top the 9-ball field to keep his Master of the Table title from 2005, but fell short in the semifinal versus fellow Filipino Rodolfo Luat.

As the 9-ball division was wrapping up on Jan. 14, the IPT kicked off the first of its four qualifiers for a handful of open spots on the 150-player tour. Each of the 46 players paid a $2,000 entry fee, and the only reward would be tour cards for the top two finishers.

The all-star field made for perhaps the most intimidating qualifier in pool history. At the top of the list was reigning U.S. Open champ Alex Pagulayan, but there wasnít much of a drop-off from there, as the dream of competing on the IPT brought a passel of national 8-ball champs from the BCA and VNEA amateur leagues (Shane Van Boening, Brian Groce), 9-ball pros (Tang Hoa, Robb Saez, George Breedlove) and international studs like Hungaryís Vilmos Foldes, Germanyís Thomas Engert and the U.K.ís Imran Majid.

Miller was the first to qualify on Jan. 15, besting Foldes, 10-6, in the winners-bracket final. Pagulayan then outplayed Foldes, 10-2, to win his tour card. The Killer Pixie jigged around the table, crying out, "I made it! Iím in the IPT now!"

"Itís not only the IPT," Pagulayan admitted afterward. "Iíve been here all week. I was doing good in the banks, and for some reason, they played like God on me. I was doing good in one-pocket, and for some reason Efren ó he didnít play like Efren. He played better than Efren. And then in 9-ball, Luat beat me, played his best against me. Ö At least I got this. I think I got the most important thing, I think. That might make me a millionaire, I think."

Ralf Souquet felt almost as fortunate, breaking something of a dry spell to win the 9-ball division at Derby City. Among the top three players in he world in 2002, Souquet has struggled recently with physical and personal woes, and was seeking chiropractic treatment in Louisvile for intense back pain during the Classic.

After crushing Luat, 7-0, in the 9-ball final, Germanyís "The Kaiser" was all smiles.

"I don't know what it is," Germany's "The Kaiser" demurred. "... I do have a new girlfriend."

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