Tight security for Brunei's top player
Inquirer.netPrince Muhtadee Billah, the crown prince of Brunei who happens to be an excellent pool player, is competing in the $400,000 World Pool Championship here for the second straight year.
And he's drawing attention not only for his skills.
Five bullet-proof vehicles--a Toyota Prado and a Fortuner, two luxury Mercedes Benz sedans and an S-Class stretch limo--provided by Malacañang's protocol department are being used by the Prince to compete in the event.
Not only that, at least 15 armed Presidential Security Group personnel are taking care of the Prince.
PSG members who don't fit into the bullet-proof vehicles--the Prince's entourage includes relatives and friends--ride in a convoy of American-made cars.
The Prince has been in the country now for a full week and his security is boosted by private bodyguards with M-16s and other assault rifles.
Fiery Earl back for more
EARL Strickland, the fiery American who won this tournament at the expense of a grieving Francisco "Django" Bustamante in 2001, says it's better to gamble in golf than in pool.
"There are so many unscrupulous people in pool that you cannot even call it a sport," Strickland told the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net) in a tirade aimed at no one in particular.
Asked how his golf game is as this reporter joined him at the walkway of the Araneta Coliseum, the man they call Earl the Pearl went ballistic.
For no apparent reason, he seemed to be blasting away at the fans and, obviously, at some of the other players in the WPC field.
"In golf, when you miss a short putt, the people will react by saying 'Ooohhh!'" said Strickland, who played golf rounds at the Orchard in Cavite the last time he was here.
"In this game, people clap when you miss that kind of a shot. What kind of mentality is that? And every time I play, my opponent thinks I'm an a-----e and that he'll beat me.
"You go and correct that mentality."
His ascerbic views notwithstanding, Strickland is still in the tournament and will debut against Alan Tan of Malaysia Tuesday.
Costly campaign for some
A foreign campaigner in the 2007 WPC loses a lot of money if he fails to win a match in the group phase and gets eliminated after two games.
Canadian Alain Martel said he forked out close to $4,000 (about P172,000) to be able to compete here and play.
That, of course, includes hotel accommodation, food and other expenses.
In some cases where players get eliminated early, Philippine tourism makes a killing.
The big Canadian, who stands at least 6-foot-1 and weighs no less than 250 pounds, became the final qualifier in Group 6, the bracket that includes sentimental Filipino favorite Efren "Bata" Reyes, after squeezing out a 9-6 win over Ceri Worts of New Zealand on Saturday night.