Bendigo Stadium - 9-15 July
Barry Hawkins (pic - Monique Limbos)
Barry Hawkins has been a professional since 1996 and has had his moments in professional snooker before, including winning the Shoot-Out last January. But today in Bendigo he achieved a major ambition by winning his first ranking title by beating Peter Ebdon 9-3 in the final of the Australian Goldfields Open.
2002 world champion Ebdon was playing for his tenth ranking event of his long career and got off to a good start by winning a scrappy first frame. Unfortunately the veteran potter could only watch as Hawkins played him off the table with breaks of 57, 74, 106 & 114 to go 4-1 and ultimately finish the session 5-3.
When they resumed in the evening the crowd were treated straight from the off as Hawkins made his highest break of the week, a 133 to go 6-3 up and then made a 74 in the 11th frame and a tournament winning break of 51 in the 12th to come through a comfortable winner.
Hawkins dominated scoring with a 92% pot success rate
An emotional Hawkins payed tribute to his recently wed wife Tara and their son Harrison who have been watching all his matches in the UK.
"Winning my first ranking event feels quite strange," said Dartford's Hawkins. "I don't think it has sunk in yet, I feel quite calm. It'll probably sink in more when I get home and see the family. I'm delighted obviously and it could be a big moment in my career hopefully.
"The score-line surprised me a little bit because I thought it was going to be a really tough game. Peter's beaten a lot of good players this week and he's so tough to play. He plays a lot of unusual shots but really good shots.
"Even during the good times there's still doubt, you start questioning yourself thinking am I ever going to win a big tournament. I've been working with Terry Griffiths and I won the Shoot-Out since I started working with him, I don't know if it was a coincidence or not. But now I've won this so obviously I'm doing something right.
"After the Matthew Stevens match in the second round I decided to go out and have a few beers, it helped me sleep, it helped me relax. Perhaps that's the secret, go out and get drunk before every match! I didn't get drunk, just a few beers. But tonight I'll be a little bit more than merry I should imagine."
Ebdon said afterwards: "I didn't have a very good day at all today, nothing really went for me and I really struggled out there today in all departments and it's very disappointing. It's not often that would happen to me in a final but every credit to Barry, I thought he played really, really well.
"I'm delighted for him, that he's won his first ranking event. I would have rather that it hadn't been against me in the final. But he's been a winner waiting to happen for quite some time."
Hawkins takes home $70,000 for his efforts and finds himself back up to 20th in the latest rankings. If he continues to play this well and scoring heavily in matches when it is most needed then whp knows how far he could go this season.
Next up for the tour is the first of this season's Players Tour Championship events at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester, ticketing details can be found here. Live streaming of the event will be available on liveworldsnooker.tv and you can see the draw here.