Name: Rory McLeod
DOB: 26th March 1971
Turned Pro: 1991
Highest Ranking: #34 (2010/11)
Highest Break: 145 (2007 World Championship)
Career Highlights: 2011 World Championship last 16, 2010 Wembley Masters last 16, 2011 Australian Open last 16, 2005 Grand Prix, 2008 UK Championship and 2009 World Championship last 32
A professional since 1991, Rory was on and off the main tour until 2001 (when he qualified having finished 15th on the Challenge Tour at the end of the previous season), and has remained there ever since.
For many years his most notable run before the television cameras was probably his run to last 32 of the Grand Prix in 2005 when he defeated Paul Hunter along the way, though given Hunter’s illness at the time this was something of a bitter-sweet result. He had a great chance to reach the last 16 for the first time in his next match but unfortunately lost out in a deciding frame to Norwich’s Barry Pinches who at the time was arguably playing the best snooker of his career.
Rory at the 2011 World Championship qualifiers
Rory was able to secure another match in front of the TV cameras at the 2008 UK Championships following impressive victories against Jimmy White and Dave Harold in qualifying. Up against Ronnie O’Sullivan in the last 32 though he struggled early on, losing the first six frames but a run of three consecutive centuries enabled him to make the scoreline respectable as he eventually lost the match 9-6.
Rory’s impressive form during the season continued and in March 2009 he defeated both Andy Hicks and Ian McCulloch to finally qualify for the last 32 of the World Championship for the first time in his long career.
Unfortunately for him though, once at the Crucible he was to lose 10-6 to Mark King in what was to be a lengthy match which required a third session to reach its conclusion. He did at least finish the season ranked at a career high position of 39th.
After such a strong 2008/9 season however, Rory got off to a poor start the following year with opening round defeats to Patrick Wallace and David Morris in the Shanghai Masters and Grand Prix qualifiers respectively.
Rory’s fortunes soon improved however at the 2010 Masters qualifying tournament when he defeated the likes of Daniel Wells, David Gray and most impressively Ricky Walden to reach the final four. From there he made the final with a comfortable 5-1 victory over Ben Woollaston before edging a few tight frames against Andrew Higginson to secure a 6-1 victory and a place at Wembley for the very first time.
Rory at the 2010 World Championship qualifiers
Though he could do little about former champion Mark Williams at the venue, Rory was able to maintain his improved form for the rest of the season, winning his opening match at each of the three remaining events staged and managing to qualify for the venue stages of the China Open.
Unfortunately however he could not make it back to the Crucible for a second time, losing a deciding frame against Gerard Greene in what proved to be the final World Championship qualifier of the season to finish.
Rory experienced a solid, if not spectacular start to the 2010/11 season as he reached the quarter-finals of one PTC event but otherwise tended to falter around the last 32 mark.
Victories against Kyren Wilson and Liang Wenbo in qualifying for the UK Championship were enough to book him a return to Telford but as was to be the case in 2008, once there he was paired with the reigning world champion and this time lost 9-1 to Neil Robertson.
Rory at the 2011 World Championship qualifiers
While he also qualified for the final stages of the Welsh Open, the highlight of his winter arguably came at the non-ranking Sky Shootout event when he produced a moment of magic on the black the defeat Tony Drago with seconds to spare, a shot that would win him the ‘Magic Moment’ award at the inaugural end of season World Snooker awards.
Better was to come at the Crucible however as having qualified for the final stages of the World Championship for the second time with convincing victories against Kyren Wilson and Mark Davis, he then added the scalp of Ricky Walden to reach the last 16 stage of a ranking event for the first time in his career. Although he was there defeated by eventual champion John Higgins, he had enjoyed the best run of his career to date and left himself well placed to make an assault on the top 32 the following season.
Rory made an impressive start to the 2011/12 season, qualifying for the final stages of the Australian Goldfields Open with victories against Jimmy White and Robert Milkins before going one better in Bendigo with a 5-3 win against Peter Ebdon. Though he could not conquer Shaun Murphy in the following round, a quarter-final run at PTC2 was enough to put him into contention for a top 32 place for the first time in his career.
Rory at the 2011 UK Championship qualifiers
While he could not manage this at the season’s first cut-off point, he was able to make it at the second, thanks in part to his successful qualification for the UK Championship with wins against Adam Duffy and Barry Hawkins. Although he was to find himself on the wrong end of two outrageous flukes from John Higgins in the deciding frame of their last 32 match, he had at least done enough to edge Ken Doherty out for that elusive top 32 place.
The second half of Rory’s season however was to prove a struggle as he was able to qualify for just one further venue, the China Open, with a 5-1 victory against Steve Davis.
Defeat to John Higgins, followed by a 10-5 defeat to Peter Lines in the World Championship qualifiers meant that Rory would finish the season ranked 38th.
Rory was to experience an indifferent start to the 2012/13 season, as he qualified for just one venue during the first half of the campaign, the Australian Goldfields Open in Bendigo.
His strongest result in a PTC event was to come at the ET4 event in Sofia, where he reached the quarter-finals, before losing out to Scotland’s John Higgins.
In 2013, Rory’s best result was to come at the China Open, where having qualified for the event with wins against Sean O’Sullivan and Ryan Day, he then defeated wildcard Hu Hao and then Welshman Matthew Stevens to reach the last 16.
Losing out to Shaun Murphy however, that would prove to be the last win of his season, as he then lost 10-9 to Sam Baird at the World Championship qualifiers in Sheffield.
Non-Ranking Event wins (1)
|Masters Qualifying Tournament||2009|