The victory represents the Scot’s first in a ranking event in more than seven years.
Stephen Maguire has won the 2020 Tour Championship after an excellent 10-6 triumph against Mark Allen in Milton Keynes on Friday.
The Scot produced a clinical display in the second session to pull away after the scores were tied at 4-4 following the afternoon bout of play.
Success for the 39 year-old represents a sixth ranking crown of his career, his first at this level since capturing the 2013 Welsh Open, and arguably the most prestigious since bursting onto the snooker scene by winning the 2004 UK Championship.
In addition to etching his name onto the silverware, Maguire has pocketed more than a quarter of a million pounds for outlasting his opponents in a competition he wasn’t even supposed to be involved in.
The third leg of the lucrative Coral Series, only the top eight players on the one-year rankings list are supposed to qualify.
Maguire missed out in ninth place by £6,500, but Ding Junhui’s decision to withdraw gifted the Glaswegian an opportunity to participate at the last minute.
The former world number two took full advantage, compiling a remarkable six centuries in his quarter-final ousting of Neil Robertson before overcoming favourite Judd Trump in the last four as well.
Maguire started the title decider against Allen slowly, but he settled after getting on the scoreboard in the third frame.
An entertaining first session concluded with parity restored, but Maguire set the tone for the remainder of the tie when he fired in a terrific tournament-high run of 139 at the outset of the evening’s resumption – for which he banked £10,000.
By winning two out of the next three frames, the six red world champion established a two-frame cushion at the last mid-session interval.
Contributions of 78 and 53 brought him to within the brink of glory, and while Allen hung on with a gutsy ton of his own, Maguire won a nervy 16th frame on the black to complete the job.
As well as the £150,000 champion’s cheque for winning the 2020 Tour Championship, Maguire also receives a £100,000 bonus for claiming the Coral Cup.
An invitation to the Champion of Champions later this year is guaranteed, and by rising up to number nine in the world rankings it’s likely that his spot in the Masters is already assured too.
Maguire won’t be thinking about that yet as he instead enjoys his long overdue return to the big-time.
In fact, his rejuvenation has been on the cards, with this trophy representing his third of this term.
Victories in the World Cup alongside John Higgins and the Six Red World Championship in Thailand were followed by a run to the final of the UK Championship in December, when he was denied by Ding.
Indeed, it will be very interesting to see if he can carry this kind of form forward to Sheffield for the rescheduled World Championship next month at the Crucible.
“I don’t know what to say,” said Maguire just before he raised the trophy aloft inside the empty arena.
“I wasn’t good enough to be here, but I’ve managed to fluke my way to the title.”
“Over the last couple of years, I accepted that I might never win a tournament again and it’s eased my expectations.
“I’m not going to get carried away because I’ve won one trophy, but it’s a great feeling – unreal.
“I’ve had a great season and this just tops it off. I’m excited about Sheffield now because I can’t have any more confidence going into Sheffield this year, so I’m looking forward to it.”
The 2020 Tour Championship, moved to the Marshall Arena to better accommodate the players and officials, took place without any major hitches.
Like the Championship League earlier in June, there were no fans and strict guidelines were adhered to throughout in order to negate the risks associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The snooker authorities have done well so far in returning the sport to some sense of normality, although problems remain – notably the disadvantages at present for overseas competitors on the circuit.
Maguire won’t mind too much, though, as he emerged from a high-profile field in the 2020 Tour Championship as the deserving winner.
Featured photo credit: WST