The world number one has won both Home Nations series events this season.
Judd Trump became the first player since 1996 to win the same ranking event for three years in a row with victory in the Northern Ireland Open on Sunday.
Trump held off a late rally to once again see off the challenge of Ronnie O’Sullivan with a 9-7 scoreline – just as he had previously done in both 2018 and 2019 as well.
The success represents the first time since Stephen Hendry’s trio of UK Championship titles between 1994 and 1996 that a player has triumphed in the same ranking event for three consecutive campaigns.
A 19th career ranking victory takes the 31 year-old into sixth on the all-time list on his own, one ahead of both Mark Selby and Neil Robertson.
After clinching a scrappy opening frame on the colours, Trump was generally in control of this Northern Ireland Open final showdown.
A 5-3 lead after the first session quickly became a 7-3 advantage upon the evening’s restart inside the Marshall Arena.
O’Sullivan, who was featuring in a first final since capturing a sixth World Championship crown in August, was always playing catch-up and could never quite get back on level terms despite his resilient, and uncharacteristically patient, efforts.
The “Rocket” won two frames before the last interval to trail by only two, but a superb 115 from his opponent meant that he was teetering on the brink of defeat.
Contributions of 93 and 74 set up an exciting climax and it appeared as though a decider was in store when the world number two had the first opportunity in the 16th frame.
However, O’Sullivan broke down and Trump capitalised with an impressive break of 89 to seal yet more silverware.
It’s the fourth final in a row in which Trump has beaten his esteemed rival, dating back to the first of those Northern Ireland Open triumphs two years ago.
Indeed, since that success the Bristol potter has transformed himself into the dominant force in the game – claiming an astounding 11 Main Tour titles in that short spell.
O’Sullivan competed well as he usually does, but Trump always looked like a player who was in control of his own destiny.
With the £70,000 champion’s cheque, his lead at the top of the world rankings widens, while the Englishman also collected an additional £5,000 for his maximum break against Gao Yang earlier this week.
“I can’t imagine anyone else in the history of the game getting close to the record I’ve got against Ronnie in finals.” @judd147t
7️⃣W3️⃣L against O’Sullivan in finals
🏆 Ranking title 2️⃣ of the season
2️⃣/4️⃣ #HomeNations titles 👀
The season has only begun for the World No.1 👊 pic.twitter.com/5O32rsjc4Z
— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) November 22, 2020
Adding to the English Open title that he secured in October, Trump also becomes the first player to win the first two Home Nations tournaments in the same term.
One small disappointment will be that he’s unable to compete for the £1 million bonus that had usually been on offer for capturing all four Home Nations titles within the same campaign – the payout having been withdrawn this year.
Still, Trump is earning ample money and raising enough silverware to be feeling pretty satisfied about his game overall.
The 2019 world champion has featured at the semi-final stage or later in every tournament he has participated in this season so far, so he’ll begin the upcoming UK Championship as a confident contender for more glory.
Featured photo credit: WST