Hohman Wins World Title!
by Mike Panozzo Jul 20, 2003, 6:30 PM EST
The unflappable Hohmann shot past Pagulayan (seated) in the World Pool Championship finale in Cardiff.
Thorsten Hohmann, a relatively unknown 24-year-old from Fulda, Germany, whose previous claim to fame was the German 14.1 championship, now lays claim to the title of World Pool Champion after rolling to a 17-10 win over Canadian Alex Pagulayan Sunday night in Cardiff, Wales.
Hohmann held the lead from the start at the packed Cardiff International Arena. He won the first two games in impressive fashion before playing a poor safety in the third rack and allowing Pagulayan to get on the board. After Pagulayan ran out from the break to tie the match at 2-2, Hohmann seized the lead again after the Canadian missed the 4 in the following rack. It was a lead the confident German would not relinquish. Pagulayan made several charges, including a three-rack run from 6-2 down, and another three-rack streak that pulled him to within two games at 12-10. But a rattled 6 ball that would have brought Hohmannís lead to a single game cost Pagulayan dearly. Hohmann, who was starting to show a few nerves in the previous racks, pounced on the gift and rolled to the finish line.
The victory earned Hohmann $65,000, and will undoubtedly leave him a marked man on the world pool scene.
"The money is very nice," said the overwhelmed Hohman, whoíd honed his pool skills in the previous five years in the German Army, where enlistees who specialize in a certain sport are sponsored by the army to improve their games. "But the title is what you dream about, not the money."
In the most unpredictable of the five Matchroom Sport-produced world tournaments, Hohmann earned the title by ousting Canadian John Horsfall, American Teddy Garrahan and Canadian Luc Salvas. He was four balls from being eliminated by Francisco Bustamante in the quarterfinals, but rallied from a 10-6 deficit for an 11-10 win to keep his hopes alive. His convincing 11-6 semifinal win over defending champion Earl Strickland of the U.S. served notice that his place in the title match was no fluke.
"I was proud of myself when I beat Earl Strickland on the television table," said Hohmann, who had actually finished third in the 2002 International Billiard Council World Tour rankings. "It was my first time on the TV table, and I played very well."
For Pagulayan, the second-place finish was the most heartbreaking of his young career.
"I canít stand finishing second again," said the 25-year-old, who finished second in the 2002 U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship. "I just turn into a different player in the finals. Iím always nervous, but itís good nervous. In the final Iím Ďbadí nervous. I think Iím just not dedicated enough right now."
Dedication has never been an issue for the disciplined Hohmann, who said he practiced more than eight hours a day during his stint in the army.
"Obviously, you dream about winning the world championship," he said, "But itís only a dream. Actually doing it is something you canít even imagine. I knew during my training in the army that I had the ability. I ran over 400 balls in straight pool, and I knew my game was solid.
"Iím sure winning the world title will change my life," Hohmann added. "I donít know how, but it will change. Now, I can continue to play pool. Before this tournament, I resigned from the army and I wasnít sure what I would do. I didnít have much money saved, so I didnít know if I could make pool my job. Iíve applied to go to school for sales in business. Iíll still do that, but at least now I know I can play in all the big pool events and try to improve my game even more."
For complete Group standings, and Final 64 pairings, visit: http://www.worldpoolchampionship.com/results.asp
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