Murphy in Hunt for Third Paul Hunter Classic Success

Eight players sealed their last 16 places in the Paul Hunter Classic after an interesting day’s play on Friday in Furth.

Murphy has won four European Tour events, the last also coming in Germany at the Ruhr Open - photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.
Murphy has won four European Tour events, the last also coming in Germany at the Ruhr Open – photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.

I mixed bag of old, young, established and new faces make up the top half of the draw in what is widely regarded as the most sought-after European Tour event on the calendar.

Two-time former champion Shaun Murphy was the most high-profile player to make it through to Sunday’s final day with the World Championship runner-up enjoying victories over 2007 winner Barry Pinches, Zak Surety and Luca Brecel of Belgium.

The man he lost to at the Crucible final, Stuart Bingham, exited the event in the opening round after surrendering a 3-1 lead over John Higgins in a high-quality encounter.

Higgins went on to reach the third round but was sent packing by 23 year-old Kyren Wilson, who also edged Riga Open winner Barry Hawkins earlier in the day in his attempt to get his fledgling career back on track after a quiet last term.

Perhaps the most surprising name still remaining is that of Malaysian Thor Chuan Leong, who won three matches on the trot for the first time in his career to seal a spot in round four.

These were impressive victories too, as he notched up wins over Christopher Keogan, Liang Wenbo and Rod Lawler to the loss of just two frames.

Leong will play Ian Burns for a quarter-final berth while Wilson takes on a resurgent Mark King with Murphy being challenged by Robbie Williams.

English stalwart King was in superb form as he recorded a hat-trick of whitewashes over Brian Cini, Jamie Jones and Lee Walker.

The other two players to advance are also Englishmen, with Mark Davis and Stuart Carrington set to do battle after triumphs over David Gilbert and Matthew Stevens respectively.

Defending champion Mark Allen crashed out at the first hurdle after a shock 4-3 defeat to rookie Sanderson Lam.

Arguably the bigger story of the day, though, was the statement released by the WPBSA revealing unusual betting patterns in the match involving Martin O’Donnell and Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon, where the former prevailed.

It’s not the first time Thai snooker or indeed Tirapongpaiboon himself has been called into question so it will be interesting to see how this one plays out.

That it occurred during this of all events, which honours the memory of one of snooker’s golden greats, is an additional shame.

Saturday sees the rest of the field whittled down with the likes of Judd Trump, Mark Selby, Mark Williams and Irish trio Ken Doherty, Fergal O’Brien and David Morris all entering the fray.

Click here for the full draw. 

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