Mark Williams rolled back the years and balls to complete a 6-4 win over Gary Wilson in the British Open final at Leicester's packed Morningside Arena on Sunday – an astonishing 24 years after he first won the event.
The three-times world champion drubbed Stephen Hendry 9-2 to carry off the British Open in 1997 at the age of 22 and the free-wheeling Welshman has clearly lost none of his ability at the age of 46 as he moves onto 24 career ranking titles.
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The first four frames were shared with the world number eight knocking in 111 in the third frame only for former Crucible semi-finalist Wilson to make 62 in restoring parity at 2-2.
The Tyneside player produced a lovely 101 to move 3-2 clear before Williams started to come on strong with a 75 break in the seventh frame and a 115 break – his second century of an engrossing evening – helping the Cwm man move to a 5-4 lead and the cusp of the £100,000 first prize in the season's second ranking event.
A missed pink by Wilson among the balls proved fatal for the world number 28 as Williams returned to the table to secure a superb victory that cements his place among the giants of the green baize.
"That's the best I've played this week by far," said Williams.
I try my guts out every time I play. Most of the time I don't play great, but I'm 100 percent always trying. It may not look like it sometimes. They still mean as much to me because you don't know when the next one will be.
"We are lucky to be playing at the moment. Having the crowd back was brilliant."
Williams won the inaugural WST Pro Series event to claim his 23rd ranking title when he turned 46 on 21 March.
He became the third oldest ranking event winner behind fellow Welshmen Doug Mountjoy at the age of 46 in 1989 and Ray Reardon, who was 50 in 1982.
Williams is also the oldest winner since he won in March. He is a remarkable player and champion.
"I'm just bitterly disappointed," said a classy Wilson of an event that was only the best-of-five frames until the last eight. "I was so hungry to win this tournament.
The tournament has been fantastic. I like the longer format as a snooker purist, but for crowd and the coverage, the atmosphere and the tension, I think it has been brilliant.
In a staggering exhibition of sporting longevity, the man dubbed the 'Welsh Potting Machine' moves two clear of Trump on the all-time trophy ranking list, 25 years after his first triumph at the 1996 Welsh Open when he defeated John Parrott 9-3.
Snooker's all-time ranking event winners
- Ronnie O’Sullivan (Eng) 37
- Stephen Hendry (Sco) 36
- John Higgins (Sco) 31
- Steve Davis (Eng) 28
- Mark Williams (Wal) 24
- Judd Trump (Eng) 22
- Mark Selby (Eng) 20
- Neil Robertson (Aus) 20
- Ding Junhui (Chn) 14
- Jimmy White (Eng) 10
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