Mark King won the Northern Ireland Open last night after a famous victory over Barry Hawkins. The final was played to an incredibly high standard from both players and it was a fitting end that the match went all the way to a deciding frame.
The 42 year old, Mark King had never won a ranking event in his career which has spanned more than 3 decades.
In the afternoon session, Hawkins raced ahead to lead 5-1 but King took the last two frames of the afternoon to bring the match back to 5-3 at the end of the session. Pundits, commentators and the media had King ruled out of winning. It was believed that Hawkins had the upper hand over King.
In the evening session the players were greeted with massive enthusiasm from the Northern Ireland crowd as the session got under way. Mark King played sublime snooker in the next 4 frames to lead 7-5, helped by errors from Barry Hawkins who was clearly struggling with his snooker.
Hawkins then began to play better snooker and took the next 2 frames to level the match at 7-7. King took the next frame but in the next it was tense as King missed a double on a re-spotted black gifting the frame to Hawkins, forcing the deciding frame.
In the deciding frame, King got his nose in front first and although he needed a couple of chances, he held himself together well to finish the frame and match off.
An emotional King spoke about his struggle over the past number of years, including a gambling problem and financial problems. According to King, he had to ask his father for a lend of money to enter the Northern Ireland Open this week. He also spoke about how he has struggled playing snooker and thought he’s never win a ranking title.
King’s wife and children came over to Northern Ireland to watch the final but his 80 year old father was unable to travel due to a flu.
The next snooker tournament we can all look forward to is the UK championship, where the preliminary round start on Tuesday.