Stuart Bingham shocks the big boys to lift Premier League Snooker crown in Grimsby
UNBEATEN and £78,000 richer – Stuart Bingham fully deserves his place alongside some of snooker's biggest names after a sensational Premier League victory in Grimsby.
History was made on the baize at Grimsby Auditorium as the region hosted the finals of the competition for the first time.
And fittingly, a new winner was crowned after Bingham beat world number one Judd Trump by seven frames to two in the final.
Few would have tipped the former world amateur champion as a potential winner when he began his Premier League debut earlier this season but, after this performance, the 36-year-old will certainly be one to watch alongside the game's top dogs.
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He has joined a list of former Premier League winners and all-time greats that includes Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis, Ronnie O'Sullivan, John Higgins and Jimmy White.
After a gruelling battle to beat four-time world champion Higgins 5-4 in his semi-final on Saturday, the Basildon cueman met Trump in the final after his laborious victory by the same score against Neil Robertson – a match that didn't finish until just after 1.30am on Sunday.
But maintaining the form that saw him hammer Mark Selby and Robinson 6-0 in the group stages, Bingham made six breaks over 50 and one century on his way to a comfortable win against an out-of-sorts Trump who, despite breaks of 83 and 101, didn't get going.
On his first visit to Grimsby, Bingham, whose 135 against Robertson in the group stages was the competition's highest break, picked up a meaty pay cheque for winning his second Major title.
"Obviously Grimsby is now one of my favourite places," said Bingham.
"It felt a bit surreal to win really.
"I finished as the only one unbeaten. Throughout the whole tournament I played well.
"Judd started off the match with an 83, but then I made an 82, and then a hundred – I thought it was going to be a bit of a boxing match.
"I felt I was a bit fortunate – the balls did go my way.
"I've just decided to be a bit more attacking and to always go for my shots, and it's worked out well!
"Winning my second major trophy is fantastic for me. It'll take a bit of time to sink in."
Before his success in Grimsby, Bingham's only major title had been last year's Australian Goldfields Open. He beat two-time world champion Mark Williams 9-8 in the final.
"Mark has always had a joke with me, calling me Chesney as in Chesney Hawkes – a one-hit wonder.
"So I'm glad I can stick that up him now – I'm gutted I didn't mention it on TV!"
During a successful year, the Essex potter has also won two Asian Players Tour Championship titles.
And Bingham will hope to continue his excellent form in the next two major events on the snooker calendar – the UK Championship next month, and the Masters in January.
"It's just a case of getting straight back on the road," said Bingham, who was back in action on the European Tour circuit yesterday.
"I'm playing a lot of snooker, so it's great to pick up a trophy along the way.
"It's always tough – there are so many good players on the circuit.
"My UK Championship first-round match is against Jack Lisowski, who made a 147 in qualifying!
"There will be a few more eyes on me now and a bit more pressure.
"But I'll just get on with it and hopefully next year I can come back to Grimsby and retain my Premier League title."