SEOUL – The not even 30-year-old Spaniard David Zapata instantly is the best paid billiard player ever. Even the legendary Belgian Raymond Ceulemans, with his 21 world titles in three-cushion billiards, has never earned that much with his rich record of championships as what the not even world-famous Juan David Zapata was overjoyed with on the podium of the PBA Tour today, Saturday 6 March 2021, in South Korea. The 220.000 euros cheque, a gigantic million in Korean won, has completely turned carom billiards history of carom billiards in three cushion billiards upside down. Out of nowhere, as a young Spaniard, David Zapata was the very first winner of the ‘ PBA World Championship’, a title that is contested in traditional UMB (World federation) circles, but proudly announced in the professional PBA organization.
David Zapata defeated the very best, remaining Korean Dong Koong Kang in the final today, Saturday, after a furious battle for which 32 players had qualified after the regular tournaments. The undisputed contenders, like Frédéric Caudron, Filippos Kasidokostas and a few strong Koreans, were knocked down along the way. David Zapata, an extremely modest player from the famous Spanish billiard academy of José Maria Quetglas, grew to the best form of his young career and finally exploded in the best-paid tournament in the long history of three cushion.
David Zapata won the final 5-4 after a titanic battle. With that, he earned 220,000 euros against the runner-up, the number two, only 22,000 euros. The all-or-nothing match of truth created immense tension between the two players. Dong Koong Kang succumbed to that devastating pressure. David Zapata, known so far in his career only as the European junior champion, rose on this miraculous day in his billiard life to a height that will bring him eternal fame in the world of billiards.
In the final, the Spanish toreador turned his high class into a tremendous battle and drive by putting his Korean opponent under pressure in the 9th and last set, in which the intermediate 4-4 score meant that it he had to decide between the 220,000 euros top prize or the 22,000 euros for the runner up. The victory in that last set to 15 points, in two innings, with a tremendous run of 12 from the spots, brought the Spaniard into the highest state of euphoria. He is the first ‘PBA world champion’, the first player in history to credit his bank account with such an incredible money with only one victory.
After his victory, the magnificent winner of the PBA tournament was dragged from one celebration to another, to the press room, the videos, the interviews with the media. He enjoyed it intensely, even though he could not share the joy with his Spanish friends who already travelled back home.
”I can’t sleep, have been lying awake for hours,” he said in the Korean night, constantly thinking about that memorable final. ”At the start of the match I felt an agonising tension. And at the end, in the last set, when I made that wonderful 12 from the break, I tried not to think about the money I could make. It was a great feeling, of course, when I could finish the match.”
This Monday, he travels back to Spain after the happiest day in his life and after a stay for more than three months in South Korea for the individual PBA tournaments and the team competition. ”The first person I want to see is my girlfriend Maria Camila Ochoa, who I called right after the final, of course. But my come-back in Spain will be great. I can’t count the apps and congrats, incredible how many people texted me. I want to dedicate this victory to my family and many friends all over the world.”
Finally, before Zapata hopefully gets a few more hours of sleep, he would like to say a final word to the PBA organization: ”Many, many thanks for the professionalism of billiards, the PBA has totally changed the world of three-way.”
The set scores in the final:
1st set: 10-15
2nd set: 15-6
3rd set: 14-15
4th set: 8-15 (2-2)
5th set: 15-13
6th set: 8-15 (3-3)
7th set: 15-6
8th set: 7-15 (4-4),
9th set: 15-4 in 2 innings (5-4).
The final score and the merits:
1 Juan David Zapata (1,873) 223,150 euros
2 Kang Dong-Koong (1,851) 22,315 euros
3 Kim Jae-guen (1,464) 7,440 Euros
3 Kim Jong-won (1,380) 7,440
5 Glenn Hofman (1,655) 3,350
5 Birol Uymaz (1,494) 3,350
5 Ma Minh Cam (1,588) 3,350
5 Filippos Kasidokostas (1,599) 3,350
9/16th place: 1,490
17/32nd place: 745