Flawless Lawler Wins PTC3

Rod Lawler won his maiden professional title at the age of 41 after beating Marco Fu 4-2 in the final of the third UK Players Tour Championship event in Gloucester.

Seasoned campaigner, journeyman, stalwart of the tour. These are all terms that many players who have for years contested the lower end of the rankings without a serious breakthrough must be branded with – much, naturally enough, to the detest of the players in question themselves.

But Lawler, by all accounts, has fallen into this category ever since joining the professional ranks way back in 1990.

The Liverpudlian’s two major moments in his career came 16 years ago when in 1996 he reached the final of then ranking event, the International Open, and also took the scalps of former winners Dennis Taylor and John Parrott to reach the last 16 of the World Championship at the Crucible.

Since then, he has largely been in the periphery of the sport and, in April of this year, it looked like Lawler’s career among the game’s elite was over when he failed to qualify for Sheffield, resulting in him falling off the Main Tour having dropped out of the Top 64 in the world rankings.

But Lawler dusted himself down and headed straight for Q-School in May to try to regain his place, and that is exactly what he managed to achieve.

Since then, the man they dub ‘The Plod’, for his snail-like style of play, has been on a rampage of scintillating performances.

He reached the Wuxi Classic from the first round of qualifying, going on to make the last 16 in the process out in China, and narrowly failed to repeat the feat a month later when he was denied a return flight for the Shanghai Masters by Fergal O’Brien.

The confidence from those runs and a few other decent displays in the other PTC events nonetheless spurred him on, which was in evidence over the course of this weekend.

In the last 16 this morning Lawler found himself 3-0 down to Stuart Bingham but fought back to pip the 2011 Australian Open champion and from there he boasted nerves of steel.

Once again he was taken all the way by Stephen Lee in the quarter-final but nervelessly opened up with a big break in the decider that all but sealed his progression.

Proceedings were easier in the last four where he whitewashed Dominic Dale – despite needing no less than four snookers to steal one frame – before his battling qualities came to the fore once again in a tight final that could have gone either way.

Lawler proved to have the most stamina remaining, which is quite something given the significant amount of effort and concentration he puts into each shot he takes.

At the end, of course, all the hours were worth it as, after being given his first trophy, Lawler’s beaming smile was a picture that spoke a thousand words.

£10,000 winners cheque and a hefty sum of ranking points aside, if anyone doubted the reason for PTC events there was your answer right there.

Fu himself had played superbly well throughout the three days too with top 16 players Ricky Walden, Ali Carter and Shaun Murphy all surrendering to his excellent play today.

But it was clear the Hong Kong native grew tired as the day ran on and had little left to offer as the final reached breaking point.

Earlier in the day the battle of the Irish ended in a thrilling 4-3 victory for Fergal O’Brien over Ken Doherty but his journey subsequently ended in the quarter-finals with defeat to Welshman Dale.

Overall then a good weekend’s snooker that belongs to Rod Lawler – a journeyman maybe, but one who can now proudly say he has joined the winners enclosure.

The draw and list of results can be viewed by clicking here

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