Shaun Murphy ended a 29-month drought without a title by winning the Gdynia Open in Poland – and made a maximum 147 break in the process.
Former World and UK Champion Murphy beat Fergal O’Brien 4-1 in the final of the season’s eighth European Tour event to capture a trophy for the first time since the 2011 Brazil Masters.
Earlier in the day, Murphy made a 147 in his last 16 match against Jamie Jones, to earn a £500 bonus to go with his 25,000 Euro top prize. The maximum was the 104th in snooker history, third of Murphy’s career and his second within a matter of weeks as he made one in January’s Championship League.
A crowd of 1,300 watched the final in Gdynia on Poland’s Baltic coast, in a country where the popularity of snooker is growing rapidly. A scrappy opening frame came down to the colours after both players missed chances, and Murphy’s cracking pots on brown and blue put him 1-0 up.
Irishman O’Brien had a golden chance to level but missed the pink to a centre pocket on 34, with all of the reds in the open, and he paid full price as Murphy cleared with 75 to double his lead.
Murphy started frame three with eight reds and blacks, though his hopes of another 147 ended when he rattled the ninth black on 65. But a missed red from O’Brien allowed the Englishman to go 3-0 ahead.
O’Brien took the fourth in three scoring visits to keep his hopes alive, but Murphy settled the result in the next with a superb 103.
“I came here with low hopes because I hadn’t won a tournament for so long,” said Worsley-based 31-year-old Murphy. “I have been practising really hard and working on my game and it’s just so nice to bring that form to the match table. My coach and my manager kept telling me to keep going and eventually the title would come, and thankfully they were right.
“To make a maximum as well is fantastic and it shows that I’m hitting the ball well.”
O’Brien, who was playing in his first pro final since the 2007 Northern Ireland Trophy, said: “I had chances in the first couple of frames and if I had won one of them it might have been different. But I’ve got to be happy because I came here knowing I needed to get to the quarter-finals to qualify for the Players Championship. So to achieve that and get as far as the final is really pleasing.”
The top 24 on the European Tour Order of Merit will go through to the Players Championship, to be joined by eight players from the Asian Tour Order of Merit.
Results (last 16 onwards)
Matthew Selt 4-0 Robert Milkins
Judd Trump 4-3 Mark King
Jamie Jones 2-4 Shaun Murphy
Stephen Maguire 4-2 John Higgins
Marcus Campbell 1-4 Alfie Burden
Zhang Anda 4-1 Rod Lawler
Sam Baird 4-2 Barry Pinches
Alan McManus 1-4 Fergal O’Brien
Murphy 4-3 Maguire
Selt 4-1 Trump
Zhang 2-4 O’Brien
Burden 3-4 Baird
Selt 1-4 Murphy
Baird 1-4 O’Brien
Murphy 4-1 O’Brien