SINGAPORE - The nation's top pool player Aloysius Yapp believes he has made a "real breakthrough" after capturing his first senior international-level title in the United States on Saturday (Sept 25).
He beat Roberto Gomez of the Philippines 4-0, 4-2 in the final of the CueSports International (CSI) Michigan 10-Ball Open at the Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek, Michigan to continue his fine run of form in the US over the past month.
The event is part of an inaugural five-tournament series by the Predator Group and CSI launched in the second half of 2021. The winner of each leg receives a guaranteed spot in the US$100,000 (S$135,375) 2022 Predator World 10-Ball Championship, scheduled for March 28-April 1 in Las Vegas.
Saturday's win comes on the back of Yapp's sensational runner-up finish at the prestigious US Open 9-Ball Championship in Atlantic City, where he had beaten the world's top two players - American Shane van Boening and German Joshua Filler - a week earlier.
The week before that, Yapp had also beaten world No. 3 Jayson Shaw as he placed third at the World 10-Ball Championships in Las Vegas.
Prior to his Michigan Open win, the only senior title Yapp had claimed was the Golden Break 9-Ball Open in Malaysia in 2017, which featured mostly Asian players.
He told The Straits Times over the phone: "This win is definitely significant to me.
"I feel like I've broken a mental barrier, because I had never won a major final like this before. So I feel like I had a real breakthrough."
Yapp, whose feats in recent weeks have propelled him up to fifth in the world rankings - the highest ever for a Singaporean - pocketed US$12,000 for his win.
He added he felt he has "unlocked" another level to his game, having showed "some glimpses" after he first rose to prominence in 2014, when he won the Junior World 9-Ball title, but never fully delivering on his potential.
Two other Singaporeans also competed at the Michigan Open. Toh Lian Han finished in the top eight after exiting at the quarter-final stage, while Sharik Sayed placed 33rd, out of 51 players overall.
Next up for the trio is a training stint in Sullivan, Illinois, with former US Mosconi Cup captain Mark Wilson, before a local competition in South Carolina.
They will then compete at another Predator Pro series meet in Wilmington, Ohio from Oct 13-17, before wrapping up their two-month US stint with the Oct 22-30 International Open in Norfolk, Virginia.