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PTC Grand Final 2014 Snooker: Daily Results, Updated Schedule and Prize Money

Stuart NewmanFeatured ColumnistMarch 26, 2014

PTC Grand Final 2014 Snooker: Daily Results, Updated Schedule and Prize Money

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    ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images

    Snooker’s elite return to the Guild Hall, Preston, for the first time in nine years as the Players Championship Grand Finals get underway from March 26 to March 29.

    According to the official World Snooker website, "The Guild Hall previously staged the UK Championship from 1978 to 1997 and the Grand Prix in 1998, 1999 and 2001 to 2005," and it counts some of the best players to ever take to their green baize amongst its champions.

    Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, Jimmy White, John Parrott, John Higgins, Mark Williams and Ronnie O'Sullivan have all reigned supreme at the Guild Hall, and the latter three will be hoping to use their past glory to put together a strong run at the tournament this week.

    Higgins, Williams and O’Sullivan join the European and Asian Tour’s top players in Preston who earned their cueing rights with strong performances over the 2013/14 season.

    Since the tournament’s birth, the Players Championship Grand Finals has brought about some thrilling action, none more so than last year’s final as China’s Ding Junhui came from 3-0 down to win the title with a 4-3 victory over Neil Robertson, as reported by Eurosport.

    Ding scooped the £100,000 first prize in dramatic fashion, and the same reward awaits this year’s victor on March 29.

    Prize Fund (via World Snooker website)

    Winner: £100,000
    Runner-up: £38,000
    Semi-finals: £20,000
    Quarter-finals: £10,000
    Last 16: £5,000
    Last 32: £2,500
    High break: £2,000
    Total: £300,000

    O'Sullivan enters this week’s tournament as the favourite, naturally, being the current world champion and recording four titles already this season including the Masters and the Welsh Open—and above all else, being Ronnie O'Sullivan.

    The Rocket can’t afford to take anything for granted, though, with 14 of world snooker’s top 15 all in action in Preston: Mark Selby, Stuart Bingham, Barry Hawkins, Ricky Walden and Shaun Murphy are amongst several other talented potters looking to thwart O’Sullivan’s title charge.

    The best-of-seven format brings about thrills, spills and comebacks galore, and with such a talented field, it’s safe to say that the Grand Finals is anyone’s tournament. One thing is for sure, though, it’s going to be a classic from the first red to the last black.

Players Championship Grand Finals Schedule

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    Warren Little/Getty Images

    March 25

    Session 3: 1 p.m. Sam Baird vs. Anthony Hamilton

    Session 6: 1 p.m. Ding Junhui vs. Ben Woollaston

    Session 5: 2 p.m. John Higgins vs. Jimmy Robertson

    Session 8: 2 p.m. Mark Williams vs. Lyu Haotian

    Session 4: 7 p.m. Ricky Walden vs. Gerard Greene

    Session 13: 7 p.m. Shaun Murphy vs. Neil Robertson

    Session 7: 8 p.m. Marco Fu vs. Gary Wilson

    Session 14: 8 p.m. Judd Trump vs. Ju Reti  

     

    Session 10: 1 p.m. Liang Wenbo vs. Yu De Lu

    Session 12: 1 p.m. Stuart Bingham vs. Ryan Day

    Session 1: 2 p.m. Mark Allen vs. Jamie Jones

    Session 9: 2 p.m. Ronnie O’Sullivan vs. Scott Donaldson

    Session 11: 7 p.m. Stephen Maguire vs. Barry Hawkins

    Session 15: 7 p.m. Joe Perry vs. Mark Davis

    Session 2: 8 p.m. Fergal O’Brien vs. Michael Holt

    Session 16: 8 p.m. Mark Selby vs. David Gilbert

     

    March 27

    Session 20: 1 p.m. Marco Fu vs. Mark Williams

    Session 19: 1 p.m. John Higgins vs. Ben Woollaston

    Session 17: 2 p.m. Mark Allen vs. Fergal O'Brien

    Session 24: 2 p.m. Joe Perry vs. David Gilbert

    Session 21: 7 p.m. Ronnie O'Sullivan vs. Yu De Lu

    Session 18: 7 p.m. Anthony Hamilton vs. Gerard Greene

    Session 22: 8 p.m. Barry Hawkins vs. Ryan Day

    Session 23: 8 p.m. Shaun Murphy vs. Judd Trump

     

    March 28

    Session 25: 1 p.m. Winner of Match 17 vs. Winner of Match 18

    Session 28: 2 p.m. Winner of Match 23 vs. Winner of Match 24

    Session 26: 7 p.m. Winner of Match 19 vs. Winner of Match 20

    Session 27: 8 p.m. Winner of Match 21 vs. Winner of Match 22

     

    March 29

    Session 29: 1 p.m. Winner of Match 25 vs Winner of Match 26

    Session 30: 2 p.m. Winner of Match 27 vs. Winner of Match 28

    Final

    Session 31: 7 p.m. Winner of Match 29 vs. Winner of Match 30

     

    Schedule information courtesy Livescores.WorldSnookerData.com

Day 1 Results and Recap

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    Berthold Stadler/Associated Press

    The story of Day 1 belonged to Leicester cueman Ben Woollaston, who dumped out the defending champion Ding Junhui 4-3 with a remarkable comeback.   

    Ding, who has won 10 career-ranking titles, flew out of the traps and raced into a 3-0 lead with breaks of 68 and 65, but he soon found a few uncharacteristic errors creeping into his game.

    Woollaston produced a break of 68 to spark the fightback and rattled off the next three frames with a dominant display in the final frame to take the match.   

    The 26-year-old spoke to the official World Snooker website following his victory and was in good spirits heading into the rest of the tournament:

    Ding was so good in the first three frames, I seemed to be snookered or in a lot of trouble every time I came to the table. Once I got back to 3-1 I sensed he started to miss a couple. I always seem to play well on the TV tables against the top players like Ronnie or Ding. I just wish I could play as well in the qualifiers. It's a big win but it will only be good for me if I go further now, so I need to back it up in my next match.

    Meanwhile, in the other tournament opener, Anthony Hamilton emerged victorious over Sam Baird, after 3 hours, 33 minutes. He took the 54-minute decider 86-39 to record a 4-3 victory.

    Elsewhere, there were routine victories for John Higgins, Mark Williams, Judd Trump and Marco Fu, while Gerard Greene rivalled Woollaston's heroics with a 4-1 victory over world No. 11 Ricky Walden.

    Last year's finalist and world No. 1 Neil Robertson fell at the first hurdle as Shaun Murphy's fantastic form continued, having won last week's World Open, according to BBC Sport.

    Murphy was over the moon after beating the impressive Aussie, and he told the official World Snooker website that he defied the odds to record his victory in Preston on Tuesday afternoon: 

    "My record against Neil isn't good, in fact when a friend of mine found out I was playing him in the first round, he said he wouldn't bother coming!"  

    The drama continues at the Guild Hall on Wednesday as Ronnie O'Sullivan gets his campaign underway against Scott Donaldson, and with the likes of Robertson and Ding already eliminated from the field, The Rocket may just fancy his chances of yet another tournament success.

Day 2 Results and Recap

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    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    Tournament favourite Ronnie O’Sullivan kicked off his Players Champioship Grand Finals campaign in style with a 4-0 drubbing of Scott Donaldson.

    According to the official World Snooker website, “O'Sullivan was just 17 years old in 1993 when he beat Stephen Hendry in the final of the UK Championship” at this very venue to claim his first-ever ranking title, and he looked comfortable from pot one on Wednesday afternoon.

    Speaking with World Snooker following his routine victory over the world No. 67, The Rocket said:

    "I got off to a good start and I think that maybe put a little pressure on Scott. I feel a little bit rusty, but each match I played in the Masters and the Welsh I got more into it, so I'd rather be underplayed than overplayed. I still feel like I'm a little way off sharpness but as long as I can win my first match and my second match then it should click in, I'll gather momentum and get sharper as the tournament goes on.”

    Meanwhile, world No. 4 Stuart Bingham was knocked out in a deciding frame by the ever-improving Welshman Ryan Day, 4-3.

    In a scrappy match, Bingham recorded the highest break of the session with a 59 to force the match back to 3-3, but couldn’t take a chance in the deciding frame, leaving Day to march on to the second round.

    Elsewhere, leader of the European Tour Order of Merit Mark Allen cruised into the last-16 with a 4-2 defeat of Jamie Jones, and he told World Snooker after the match that he’s feeling good about his game:

    "I played well the whole game. I seem to play better at this time of the season but I don't know why, I don't do anything different. It's purely coincidental.”

    There were also wins for Yu De Lu—who disposed of fellow countryman Liang Wenbo to set up a second-round tie with O’Sullivan—Barry Hawkins, Joe Perry and Fergal O’Brien, but it was Englishman David Gilbert who produced the shock of the day.

    Gilbert cruised to a 4-0 victory over world No. 2 Mark Selby in the late session, meaning that the top four in the world all fell at the first hurdle—with Neil Robertson, Selby, Ding Junhui and Bingham all crashing out.

    Per Love-Snooker.com, Gilbert put together breaks of 45, 44, 50 and 73 to send the three-time ranking-tournament winner packing.

    Winner of the 1999 Grand Prix at the Guild Hall John Higgins is back in action tomorrow against Ding Junhui’s slayer, Ben Woollaston, looking to once again use his love for the venue to his advantage.

    The man in form, Shaun Murphy also returns to action, having knocked out Neil Robertson during yesterday’s session.

    Just 16 remain in the Players Championship Grand Finals, but with many of the game’s heavyweights subject to an early dismissal, the door’s wide open for an up-and-coming star to really make their mark in Preston.

Day 3 Results and Recap

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    Marco Fu was inspired on day 3.
    Marco Fu was inspired on day 3.ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images

    Results

    Marco Fu 4-2 Mark Williams

    John Higgins 4-2 Ben Woollaston

    Mark Allen 4-1 Fergal O'Brien

    Joe Perry 4-1 David Gilbert

    Ronnie O'Sullivan 3-4 Yu De Lu

    Anthony Hamilton 3-4 Gerard Greene

    Barry Hawkins 4-3 Ryan Day

    Shaun Murphy 0-4 Judd Trump

     

    John Higgins reached his third successive ranking event quarter-final after rolling back the years in a 4-2 triumph over Ben Woollaston.

    Higgins’ highest-break of 56 won’t leave his fellow competitors trembling in their boots but the result has done wonders for his self confidence.

    Per WorldSnooker, Higgins noted:

    I'm feeling ten times better with my game, even if I do lose I'm feeling better and that's the main thing.

    I got the bits of luck and Ben got a few kicks at crucial moments, but that's what happens in these best of sevens.

    Marco Fu awaits in the quarters and the chinaman has been one of world snooker’s most consistent performers of late.

    He proved it again today in Preston dispatching Mark Williams with ease.

    Breaks of 79, 57, 82 and 60 were peppered with trademark long-pots, and a sublime cueing action that was almost poetic in it's execution.

    Mark Allen was even more impressive during his win against practice partner Fergal O’Brien. Despite going behind in the first frame of the match, a quick fire 113 break soon restored parity.

    A see-saw third frame could’ve gone with way until Allen took the initiative with a fine long pink to set him up for the 54 which eventually took him clear.

    75 and 66 breaks followed in what became an decent afternoon’s work. Allen told World Snooker after the win:

    It's never easy against Fergal, I practise with him and he gives every shot the same concentration.

    He gives nothing away and I knew he would make it tough for me. I felt a bit edgy at the start but I'm happy with the way I played.

    Poor old David Gilbert was never in the game against an effervescent Joe Perry. The latter is enjoying his best season for a while and breaks of 98, 128, 53 and 61 were indicative of Perry’s dominance throughout.

    Surprise result of the night has to be Ronnie O’Sullivan’s first defeat of the year to Yu De Lu. World number 48 Lu took the initiative after O’Sullivan looked to have done enough with a first frame 64 break.

    Taking the frame via a clearance from the final red, he was a final pink away from making it 2-0. It was always going to be a difficult pot but Lu had no choice but to take it on.

    At one apiece, the crowd might have expected the Romford-based O’Sullivan to surge ahead.

    Instead Lu took out a 102, before a stunning 140 break from O’Sullivan, the highest of the tournament so far, had the crowd on their feet. 

    Both players traded blows and frames to level things at 3-3 before Lu took advantage of O'Sullivan's poor shot on the centre red to take the match.

    Judd Trump was never troubled in his game with Shaun Murphy and noted his chances of success against Perry in the next round, and in the tournament generally, with O'Sullivan now dispatched, per World Snooker:

    My safety was good and my positional play was the best it's been for a while.

    When Ronnie goes out, everyone perks up a bit and thinks they have a better chance of winning, but I've got a tough game next against Joe, he has beaten me the last couple of times we've played so he's favourite.

    The final game of the day between Barry Hawkins and Ryan Day didn't conclude until the early hours of Friday morning, but it was well worth the wait for those that hung around.

    Early blows were traded, with some rapid point scoring keeping the tiring crowd enthralled. At 2-2, the match really was anyone's.

    A tense fifth frame saw both players edge toward the breakthrough that would give then the advantage in the game, with Hawkins just doing enough.

    Day came straight back again rattling off a 38 break. Two visits to the table from Hawkins still left him behind Day and the latter didn't need a second invitation to take the match into a deciding frame.

    Both seemed intent on safety in the early stages, but neither keen to take a risk, knowing the same could be fatal for their chance of progression.

    Day again took the initiative, crafting some early points, but Hawkins put the squeeze on with some incisive visits to the table.

    He got to within three points at 34-37 before Day edged ahead again. On 42 points with 22 left on the table, the match was there for the taking but an awkward attempt at safety let Hawkins back in to steal the match with a 22 break of his own.

    Just eight players remain to slug it out in what is sure to be an exciting last few days of the tournament.

     

Day 4 Results and Recap

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    Warren Little/Getty Images

    Only four players remain after the fourth day of competition, with the quarter-finals bringing even more surprises to what has already been a wild tournament.

    Gerard Greene eliminated Mark Allen 4-2 to advance to only the second ranking event semi-final of his career in yet another wild upset, with Allen being the last world top four member to fall before the semi-finals had even begun.

    Greene took full advantage of numerous mistakes by Allen, somehow managing to eliminate one of the world's finest with a maximum break of 51. The break came in the opening frame and would help Greene establish a fine pace that culminated in a long double in the sixth frame, clinching the win.

    Facing Greene in the first semi-final will be Marco Fu, who dominated John Higgins on his way to a 4-1 win.

    Hong Kong's Fu has never played better than this season, having won the Australian Goldfields Open and now dispatching of four time World Champion Higgins with four runs over 60.

    Higgins had his chances early in the match but failed to capitalise on several openings, allowing Fu to step in and control the rest of the tie. Leading 2-0, the experienced Fu forced Higgins to sit for much of the match and while Higgins would manage to take one back in the third frame, he wouldn't score a single point in the last two.

    Speaking with World Snooker, Fu acknowledged he felt pressure as people pointed to him as the favourite against  Greene:

    I was solid, my safety was good and I didn't miss anything easy. People might make me favourite against Gerard but we have seen surprise results this week and in best-of-seven it's anyone's game. You can get off to a bad start and be 2-0 down

    Judd Trump will have a chance to win his first ranking title since 2012, defeating Joe Perry by a score of 4-2. The lefty didn't panic down 2-1 and used several high breaks to come away with the win in a high-quality match up that saw both players control much of the clock in their frame wins.

    Perry scored 121 and 133 in his wins and had a chance to take one back in the sixth, but a difficult miss on 56 allowed Trump to clear the table on his way to the next round.

    Trump felt good about his game and was happy to be in the semi's, per World Snooker:

    It was a good standard, we both made a lot of breaks. My safety was good towards the end and I pulled out a good clearance. Joe played really well but it's happened to me a lot this season where your opponent hardly misses - especially in the last few tournaments. Some days you play well and still lose and it is frustrating, but it's part of the game now. 

    I'm in the semis and it's not a bad place to be. A lot of the top players have gone out but John Higgins is still left. It's not going to be an easy game whoever I play tomorrow. Barry Hawkins is playing probably the best he's ever played at the moment, people still underestimate him

    He will face Barry Hawkins in the second semi-final, with the latter beating giant-slayer Yu Delu 4-1.

    Yu shocked the world when he beat Ronnie O'Sullivan to advance to the quarter-finals, but he couldn't repeat his heroics as he fell to the experienced Londoner. 

    Hawkins played several sloppy rounds, allowing Yu to stay in frames for long spells of time, but eventually, the class and experience of Hawkins would rise to the top, setting up a battle with Trump when competition resumes on Saturday.

     

    Full results:

    Gerard Greene 4-2 Mark Allen

    Judd Trump 4-2 Joe Perry

    Marco Fu 4-1 John Higgins

    Barry Hawkins 4-1 Yu Helu

     

Day 5 Results and Recap

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    In a tournament that has given us shock after shock, there were no surprises in the Players Championship Grand Finals final at the Guild Hall, as Barry Hawkins romped to his second ranking title.

    The world No. 5 was crowned king of Preston after a 4-0 thrashing of Gerard Greene in Saturday’s final in a perfect end to Day 5 for the Hawk, who earlier knocked out Judd Trump in the semi-finals.

    Though Trump started the brighter player in the semi-final, with a break of 62 to take the opener, Hawkins’ resilience shone through.

    The 2013 World Championship runner-up hit breaks of 50, 55 and a superb 131 to put him fully in command. And when he cleared 61 in the fifth frame following a Trump error, the Hawk went marching on to the final, where he’d meet fellow Kent resident, Greene.

    Following his victory over Trump, Hawkins spoke of his joy at reaching the final to World Snooker, saying:

    "I played well. Judd missed a couple and I punished him. I've done what I had to do and when I needed to. I was delighted to clear up at the end and get into the final.”

    Prior to that, Greene, who practises with Hawkins and spends the majority of his time on tour with the 34-year-old, knocked out Marco Fu to reach his first-ever ranking final.

    In a tight, dogged affair, Greene crucially came through the scrappier frames where Fu wasn’t able to take his chances.

    The Hong Kong cueman made an impressive 121 break in frame five to bring the scores back to 3-2, but Greene prevailed as Fu failed to get the two snookers he required in frame six.

    Greene ecstatically spoke to World Snooker after breaking his best-ever tournament performance, and said:

    “It feels fantastic. It wasn't a great game, I dragged him down to my level, but it's good enough for me. As long as I keep winning I don't care. The money will mean the taxman's happy and the missus is happy. I'll take the family on holiday, pay the bills, and might get a new car after that.”

    By reaching the final, both Greene and Hawkins guaranteed themselves £38,000, but there could only be one winner of the £100,000 first-place prize—and there only ever looked like being one winner as the final got underway.

    The Hawk showed his talons with some aggressive break building from the offset, and had the final wrapped up in double-quick time.

    He made the perfect start with breaks of 117 and 75 to lead 2-0 before Greene had mustered a meaningful spell at the table, but the match was truly won in frame three.

    With Greene up at 35-11, it looked as if he was about to get his first frame on the board. But after missing a tricky black, Hawkins came to the table with the chance of clearing up to cruise into a 3-0 lead, which he did.

    Frame four was smooth sailing for Hawkins, who was over the moon to claim the second ranking title of his career, as he told World Snooker after the match:

    "I have played well against some very good players and come through a strong field. I rode my luck during the week because I could have lost to Ryan Day, he missed the brown in the last frame. But overall I think I deserved to win. It was a big occasion with big money so I'm delighted to win. I'm getting to the later stages of tournaments more often now and when you do that, eventually the door will open for you."

    Next up for Hawkins is the China Open in Beijing for the tournament that precedes the World Championship.

    If the Kent-based potter can show the kind of form in China that he has in Preston this week, then don’t write him off earning back-to-back titles.

    In a tournament that’s captured the snooker world, it’s the Hawk that has showed his predatory instincts, while the game’s dominant males were left to rue what could have been.

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