Stephen Lee’s capture of the Betfair PTC Grand Finals in Galway last night was the final proof that he has fully returned to form in the last year.
His 4-0 defeat of Neil Robertson in the final was hard fought and clearly very satisfying. It was Lee’s fifth world ranking title, six years after he won his fourth.
Lee came through to the professional ranks in 1992 during a golden Blackpool summer which also saw Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins and Mark Williams start out on the road to the big time.
His career has not been as successful as those of these three world champions but it has been more successful than most.
Everyone raves about his silky smooth cue action but it has taken a lot of effort to make the game appear this effortless.
He credits his turnaround in fortunes to getting back in the top 16, which he believes happened because of the dramatic increase in playing opportunities since Barry Hearn took over the reins of World Snooker.
“I couldn’t be doing with six tournaments a year,” Lee said. “If you lost in the first you were counting down the other five.”
Since the turn of 2012 Lee has reached the semi-finals of the German Masters, quarters of the Welsh Open, final of the World Open and now won the Players Tour Championship.
And there’s no rest for the wicked. He is due to fly to China today to undertake a series of exhibitions ahead of the China Open next week.
After a spell in the doldrums he is once again enjoying life as a snooker player, more so now that he’s won another big tournament.
Robertson was meanwhile typically gracious both in the press conference and backstage, despite losing his first TV final from ten played.
The Aussie is a naturally cheerful sort of person. He always manages to look for the positives in any situation and take them with him.
So instead of leaving Ireland upset at a final whitewash he was merely pleased for Lee and happy with his own game a month ahead of the World Championship.
Robertson has flown over his brother, Mark, to help him prepare properly for the Crucible having by his own admission failed to do so last year.
Without elaborating, he described the run in to his world title defence 12 months ago as “typical Neil Robertson.”
He failed to get scoring last night and having lost the 47-minute opening frame was always on the back foot, whereas he had started his previous two matches with centuries in the first frame and got his opponents under early pressure.
So well done to Lee and a big thank you to the people of Galway, who made it such a memorable week for the members of snooker’s travelling circus.
It is such a friendly place and everyone was in agreement that snooker should return, in some form, very soon.