Exactly as I expected, the Final went to a decider, although it didn’t look likely when Stuart Bingham lead 4-0 after the first mini session. But that’s the beauty of longer matches: there is time for twists and turns, for form to build and doubts to creep in.
Sunday 19 Feb 2017 11:53PM
Snooker legend Ray Reardon presented Bingham with the trophy
Stuart Bingham beat Judd Trump 9-8 in a thrilling Coral Welsh Open final to win his first title since becoming World Champion 21 months ago.
Bingham let slip a 4-0 lead and fell behind at 8-7, but won the last two frames to clinch the £70,000 top prize and the Ray Reardon Trophy. It was gripping stuff for a packed Motorpoint Arena in the closing stages as a succession of frames came down to the colours, and Bingham won just enough of them before making an excellent match-winning break in the decider.
The 40-year-old from Basildon landed the fourth ranking title of his career and ended a long wait for more silverware since his Crucible triumph in 2015.
By winning his first Welsh Open crown, Bingham buried the memory of the 2013 final in Newport when he was edged out 9-8 by Stephen Maguire. He stays at number two in the world rankings, still well behind Mark Selby.
Trump missed out on the chance to win two ranking titles in the same season for the first time, having landed the European Masters in October. He has now lost seven of his 13 ranking finals and six of his 11 meetings with Bingham. The 27-year-old from Bristol still moves up one place in the rankings to third thanks to his £30,000 runner-up prize.
Trump, playing in his first Welsh Open final, trailed 5-3 after the first session but quickly halved the gap tonight by dominating the first frame of the evening. He was first among the balls in frame ten but missed the black off its spot on 48 and Bingham punished him with a 63 clearance to go 6-4 up.
Runs of 41 and 27 gave Trump the next frame and he also won the 12th after laying a snooker on the final yellow, to draw level at 6-6 at the interval. Trump looked favourite in frame 13 until he went in-off while escaping from a snooker on the last red, and Bingham made a cool clearance to regain the lead.
Bingham became a dad for the second time last month when wife Michelle gave birth to daughter Marnie
Frame 14 also came down to the last red, and this time Bingham escaped from a snooker but left the red over a baulk corner, allowing his opponent to level at 7-7. Trump then took the lead for the first time by winning an edgy 15th, potting the thinnest of cuts on the final green to a centre pocket and clearing to the pink. But Bingham hit back to win a tense 40-minute 16th, laying a snooker on the brown then making a clearance which included a doubled pink to a centre pocket.
Both players had chances early in the decider, and Trump was unlucky not to open the pack when potting the yellow when he led 25-24. After a brief safety exchange, Bingham fired in a long red and then kept his composure in a run of 55 which got him past the winning line.
“I’m just thankful to get my hands on this trophy,” said Bingham, who has won four of his seven ranking finals. “I don’t know how I did it, maybe true grit and determination.
“I started really well but then Judd came out showing his true class. He came out all guns blazing tonight, I didn’t know where to put the white ball in the end. He plays one way and that is attack, that is why he is a big hit with the fans and a great snooker player.
“I honestly don’t know what got me over the line tonight, but I did it somehow.
“It means a lot to me, I had a tear in my eye when I was clearing up. All the practice, the determination and the friends and family supporting me. It has been a tough road from winning the World Championship, but that makes it ever sweeter to get my hands on another trophy.”
Trump said: “It isn’t too bad to take. At 4-0 down I was disappointed, but the rest of the match I was quite good. I dominated most of the frames, but threw away a few and that changed the match.
“You get punished at this level if you miss easy balls. I just fell a little bit short today. It was just the odd shot here and there that could have gone right and I would have won. I had my chances in the last frame and messed them up.
“I was probably the better player in tonight’s session. I just didn’t score heavily enough.”