23.8.11

PTC4: IN MEMORY OF PAUL


The fourth PTC of the season this week is a special event, not just because it is staged in Germany and broadcast live on television but because it carries the name of Paul Hunter.

He died tragically young in 2006 but is still much missed on the circuit and by snooker fans.

He will forever be remembered for his three dramatic victories in the final of the Masters and rightly so. It wasn’t just heart and poise under pressure that was so impressive but the quality of snooker he produced in adversity – four centuries in six frames against Fergal O’Brien in the first of his comebacks.

But it should also be noted how much of a prodigy Paul was. It’s often said that it’s hard for young players to make a breakthrough these days.

Well it always has been. When Hunter turned pro in 1995 there were something like 600 players on the circuit.

To qualify for the final stages of a ranking event in that first season he had to win seven matches and then an eighth to reach the last 32.

Hunter did so at the Welsh Open and went all the way to the semi-finals at the age of just 17.

He remains the youngest player ever to reach the last four of a ranking tournament, younger even than Stephen Hendry, Ronnie O’Sullivan or Ding Junhui.

In that debut season he also qualified for the UK Championship and Thailand Masters. Paul won 62 matches in ranking tournaments.

It was obvious he would very soon be a handful for the top players and someone who could raise the profile of the game. The public have a special affection and regard for sports men and women who achieve while young.

The following season Hunter featured in the UK Championship quarter-finals and, in 1998 at the age of 19, he won the Welsh Open.

It wasn’t one of those events where the draw opened up. Hunter beat five top 16 players to capture the title: Steve Davis, Nigel Bond, Alan McManus, Peter Ebdon and, in the final, John Higgins.

He went on to win two more ranking titles, plus of course his three Masters crowns, and become a great favourite with many. Like all players he lost some matches it can be argued he should have won, notably his epic Crucible semi-final with Ken Doherty in 2003, but he also won matches he probably should have lost.

Paul was one of those players who has been remembered not just for his achievements but for his character.

It is entirely appropriate that the players are competing in a tournament that bears his name.

Let’s hope they do him proud.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great player, great character, and great allround person.

Jurgen.

Anonymous said...

Maybe those players who are "too tired" to attend the Brazilian Masters need to be reminded of him; here was a guy who could barely stand towards the end of his life, but still walked out and played the game.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Germany, for continuing to honor him.

Gabi said...

Thanks for this blog. The "Paul Hunter Classics" in F├╝rth have always been something special to me and I hope the spirit lives on.

Ray said...

Paul was a great player and a gentleman of the first order - a proper sportsman.The way he conducted himself at the table and how he confronted defeat and failure was an example to all.It is so unjust and upsetting that he is no longer with us but he will never be forgotten. Thank you Paul for all you brought to the wonderful sport of snooker.

Anonymous said...

LEGEND!

TrevorP said...

Great player who won his 3 masters titles from well behind and cameback to win.ironically he is most remembered for a match in which he lost from well in front the 03 world semi against doherty which truely was an 'epic.'he led 15-9 but doherty won 17-16 the reason i mention this result was the dignity he showed at the end of that match showed the class of the man.in what must have been the worst moment of his career.he still greeted doherty warmly when other would have stormed off.may we long remember the man with the golden cue.

jamie brannon said...

The 2001 Masters final has to be his benchmark performance. He beat better players in the 2003 and 2004 denouements, but the standard he produced a decade ago was comparable to a Hendry in his pomp.

It was that match and the infamous backstory that elevated Hunter into the bosom of the wider British sporting public. Sadly missed.

Anonymous said...

How is the 2001 Masters his benchmark. Beat Fergal from 7-3 down, making four centuries in total; in 2004 he beat Ronnie (who was provisionally number 1 in the world) from 7-2 down making five centuries in total. Which looks like a benchmark to you? Ronnie was playing well and still got his arse kicked.

TrevorP said...

Anon 6.24 how do you call ronnie getting beat 10-9 getting his arse kicked bit stupid really. Jamie is right for two reasons.firstly no one knew in 2001 that hunter had it in him to comeback and win a major title from that far behind.it was not a surprise when he done it again in 04.secondly he made a name for himself by saying he was inspired between sessions in the 01 final by as he called it "plan b" with his girlfriend.that generated great publicity and a star was born.

Anonymous said...

We miss you Paul. I think he would have been one of the players who would have played in every opportunity given to him, no matter how crowded the calendar or how far-flung the events.

Anonymous said...

624, but that is against ron, and jamie doesnt do that.

still, detracting from the subject....

a great player and all round good guy. RIP

Anonymous said...

Shagging your girlfriend doesn't set a benchmark, as much as I respect him for it. A benchmark is a standard, not an expectation or "surprise". He played better in the 2004 final, probably better then he ever did in any match, so that is Paul's benchmark. And yeah, Ronnie got his arse kicked because even though he lost in a decider he got whipped 8-2 in the last ten frames. What would you call losing 8 out of 10 frames? Think before you type Trevor.

Anonymous said...

I see Ronnie O Sullivan has tweeted this morning that he is going to another "pointless" PTC this weekend.
Thats the Paul Hunter Classic Ronnie.
Do you need reminding?

Anonymous said...

O'Sullivan will change his mind seeing as though the event isn't taking place in Chigwell.

John McBride said...

RIP

Anonymous said...

Read his next posts to see if you think he has the same opinion as you first thought...

Anonymous said...

'great' tweet THICKO

thats why those of us with brains cant stand you or your attitude, despite you being great at snooker.

how you could ever make such a bad tweet after all the Paul is this to me and that....

another howler!!

JAMIE O'REILLY said...

Hi David. Great to see Hunter's legacy live on yet again. I have had persoal experience of meeting him and watching him play live, as well as on television.

A great player and a great man.