Stuart Bingham denied Mark Davis a maiden ranking event title after overcoming his countryman 9-7 in the final of the English Open in Crawley on Sunday.
There was never more than a frame between them until the very end, when Bingham crucially strung together a three-frame charge to the winning line at the K2 to collect the fifth ranking crown of his career.
Bingham becomes the first competitor to win two Home Nations tournaments since the series was launched in 2016, adding the Steve Davis Trophy to the Ray Reardon Trophy he raised aloft for triumphing in the Welsh Open last year.
A lot has happened in Bingham’s life in between that pair of victories with the 42 year-old successfully bouncing back from a controversy that resulted in him being banned for betting on the sport almost exactly twelve months ago.
The 2015 world champion’s reputation and status among the game’s elite were both threatened as he suffered a slide down the rankings this year and he just about hung on to a place in the top 16 heading into the first ranking event of the campaign in the UK.
However, with the £70,000 top prize, Bingham’s immediate future looks brighter again as the victory guarantees his place in the upcoming Champion of Champions in Coventry and he also looks set to safeguard his invitation to the prestigious Masters in January as well.
In addition, although maybe not as important, Bingham is the last man standing in the hunt for the million pound bonus on offer for the unlikely feat of claiming all four Home Nations titles this term.
Not much separated Bingham and Davis in the final with the latter intent on taking full advantage of his first opportunity to contest a ranking title decider at the tender age of 46, following a marvellous defeat of favourite Ronnie O’Sullivan in the semi-finals a day earlier.
A terrific 136 from Davis ensured that there was parity after the first session and he duly knocked in a nerve-settling 94 at the outset of the evening’s bout of play to establish a lead for the first time since the very opening frame.
The three-time Six Red world champion subsequently appeared as though he was about to extend the advantage but called a foul on himself for feathering the white when only a few balls away from taking a 6-4 lead.
Instead, Bingham scored a break of 78 to level at five frames apiece and went 6-5 ahead with a run of 73 in the next, before Davis levelled again to make it 6-6 at the last mid-session interval.
Davis, from nearby Hastings, enjoyed a lot of support from the crowd and there was a distinct possibility that the final was going to follow the trend of half of the previous Home Nations final showdowns that each went the distance.
But after falling 7-6 down, Bingham shifted up a gear with breaks of 82 and an excellent 102, his only century of the match, before taking the final frame to seal the glory by two frames.
It will obviously represent a huge sense of disappointment for Davis, who has been a professional since 1991 and may never again get such a good opportunity to earn silverware in an event of ranking status.
Bingham, though, put in a champion’s finish that takes him alongside the likes of Ray Reardon, Stephen Maguire, and Stephen Lee on the all-time ranking event winners’ list.
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