Name: Rod Lawler
DOB: 12th July 1971
Turned Pro: 1990
Highest Ranking: 20th (1996/7)
Highest Break: 143 (2003 World Championship Qualifying)
Career Highlights: 2012 UKPTC3 winner, 1996 International Open finalist, 2014 German Masters semi-finalist, 2003 Regal Welsh quarter-finalist, 1996 World Championship last 16, 2014 UK Championship last 16, 2014 International Championship last 16, 2014 ET2 semi-finalist
PSB Interview: Rod Lawler – Man In Form
An ever-present on the professional circuit since the 1990/1 season, Rod’s most successful period came in the mid-90’s when he reached his only ranking event final at the 1996 International Open. There he defeated world number one Stephen Hendry in the second round before his run was eventually ended by another Scot, John Higgins. He did however take victory in two non-ranking events in the same year, the Finnish and the China Masters.
The previous year he had also made the final stages of the World Championship in Sheffield with a 10-5 win over former champion Dennis Taylor. Once at the Crucible he defeated another former champion in the shape of John Parrott before seeing his run ended by the Stoke Potter Dave Harold.
Since those successes though (which saw him go up into the top 30 of the rankings for a couple of seasons), victories have been hard to come by for Rod as he has consistently finished in around 50th place in the standings. 2007/8 in particular was disappointing as he only had a couple of last 48 appearances to show for it, putting him down 11 places and in danger of losing his spot on the tour.
Rod in action against Stephen Maguire at a Pro Challenge event in Leeds
Starting the season ranked 72nd on the provisional list, Rod knew that he would have to raise his game to retain his tour place for another season and this is what he did as he qualified for the TV stages of both the Bahrain Championship and the China Open.
His most important victory however was to come at World Championship qualifiers in February as in his opening match he came up against Matt Selt in what was a effectively a shoot-out for a top 64 place. Despite Selt being in good form, Rod managed to come through with a 10-4 victory and ensure that he would hang on to his tour status for yet another season.
Rod was to enjoy another relatively successful season in 2009/10 as he qualified for the venue stages of the China Open, as well as reaching the final qualifying round of the Grand Prix and World Championship tournaments. At the latter he performed well to defeat both Noppadol Sangnil and former Shanghai Master Dominic Dale before he was handed a 10-2 beating by Chinese star Liang Wenbo.
Rod at the 2010 EPTC4
While Rod narrowly missed out on returning to the top 48 for the first time since 2005/6, he had at least earned 7,975 points on the one-year list to leave himself well-placed to progress in 2009/10.
Having enjoyed an improved 2009/10 campaign, Rod was to struggle for victories during the early part of 2010/11, particularly during the Players Tour Championship as he failed to progress beyond the last 32 of any of the first 11 events.
Results from the seven full rankings events staged were however fairly good as he won at least one match in four tournaments, reaching the final qualifying round of three of them. His best run was to come at the Welsh Open where he defeated Jak Jones, Mark Joyce and Judd Trump to reach the venue where he lost out to Mark Allen.
Rod and Patrick Wallace during their marathon 2011 World qualifier
Rod’s season however was to end in disappointment as he lost a gruelling match with Northern Ireland’s Patrick Wallace which saw the first four frames take close to four hours to complete. Eventually Patrick was able to edge away and record a marathon 10-5 victory which would see Rod finish the season ranked in 58th place.
Rod was to experience a difficult start to the 2011/12 season as although he won his opening matches at both the Australian Open and UK Championship, he continued to struggle for victories during the PTC events with the result that he was to drop out of the world’s top 64 at the first rankings revision.
Due to his indifferent form, Rod took the decision to change his cue prior to the PTC8 event in Killarney, but it did little to help his fortunes as he failed to progress beyond the third qualifying round of a ranking event during the season, confirming his relegation from the main tour after 22 years.
Following his relegation from the main tour, Rod entered the 2012 Q School and narrowly missed out on a return to the circuit at the first attempt, losing out to Preston’s Ian Burns in a deciding frame in the opening event. Having lost out early in the second event however, he was to go one better in the third as he defeated Kevin O’Leary, James Hill, Elliot Slessor, Jordan Brown and Joe Delaney, to secure an immediate return to the tour.
2012 UKPTC3 winner
And what a return it would prove to be, as a match-sharp and confident Lawler won 16 matches during the first seven tournaments of the 2012/13 season, reaching the last 16 of the Wuxi Classic, as well as the last 48 of the Shanghai Masters.
- Click here to read my interview with Rod from August 2012
The best was still to come however, as at the UKPTC3 event in Gloucester, Rod defeated the likes of Stuart Bingham, Stephen Lee and Dominic Dale, during a marathon Sunday of snooker to reach the final, before adding the scalp of Marco Fu to lift his first career ranking event title.
Following his Gloucester success, Rod continued to perform well, reaching the final qualifying round of both the UK Championship and Haikou World Open tournaments, with his results enough to move him back inside the top 64 provisionally.
A semi-final run at ET6 would follow, while he also defeated Scots Fraser Patrick and Anthony McGill to reach the final qualifying round of the World Championship qualifiers, before losing out to Martin Gould in a tense match.
Following his superb 2012/13 campaign, the following season was to prove more difficult for Rod on the whole, particularly during its early months as he lost his first three matches in full-ranking event matches.
There was however to be success for Rod at the German Masters in Berlin, where he defeated Marcus Campbell, Paul Davison, Tian Pengfei and Mark Davis to reach the semi-finals at the Tempodrom, where he lost out 6-1 to sixth seed Judd Trump.
He was also able to reach the last 16 of the Indian Open, as well as the last 32 of the International Championship, while his strongest runs at European Tour events were to be last 16 runs in Gdynia and Doncaster.
Thanks to his results during the previous two seasons, Rod was to finish the campaign ranked in 39th place, his highest position since the 1997/8 season.
Rod was to enjoy another strong season during 2014/15 as he reached the last 16 of both the UK and International Championship events before Christmas, as well as the semi-finals of the Paul Hunter Classic in Germany, where he lost 4-3 to eventual champion Mark Allen.
He would also reach the quarter-finals of the Ruhr Open to help him qualify for the Players Championship in Thailand, but his season was to end with an agonising defeat to Brazilian Igor Figueiredo at the World Championship qualifiers, losing 10-9 on the black having come back from 8-2 down to force a decider.
Thanks to his consistent results, despite the loss of the ranking points earned from his strong return to the tour in 2012/13, Rod was able to remain ranked 39th at the end of the season.
Minor Ranking Event wins (1)
Non-Ranking Event wins (2)