Ronnie O’Sullivan once again proved himself to be too good for the rest by sweeping to victory in the Paul Hunter Classic in Furth, Germany.
Focused, determined and playing at times superbly, O’Sullivan got over an early scare on the last day – edging Anthony McGill 4-3 – to beat Stuart Bingham 4-0, Mark Selby 4-2 and Gerard Greene 4-0 and lift the title.
He was given a prolonged standing ovation by the passionate German crowd, much deserved following an eye-catching display of snooker.
The world champion says he is committed to playing in at least ten tournaments this season. While this isn’t as many as the other top stars will play, it is about as many as O’Sullivan had the option to play in five years ago.
The pick and choose era is perfect for Ronnie. He can now play when he wants to. And when he is in the mood to play, he invariably plays well (as we saw at the Crucible last season).
He turns 38 in December but there is no perceptible decline in his game, or at least nothing serious enough to suggest he can’t go on winning titles for a number of years yet if he is still motivated to do so.
As for the tournament, the cream once again rose to the top despite a Saturday of shocks as big names – Neil Robertson, Ding Junhui, John Higgins, Shaun Murphy, Stephen Maguire – tumbled.
Ali Carter fought from 3-0 down to level with Greene in the semi-finals but it was Greene who prevailed in the decider.
Despite losing to O’Sullivan, to reach the final was a huge confidence boost for Greene, who came into the event 57th in the world rankings.
Robertson, a champion on the table and sometimes a scatterbrain away from it, arrived late for his first round match and was docked a frame. He lost 4-0.
This is a tournament played in memory of a much missed popular star of snooker and is made special not only by the players but also the crowds, who once again flocked in huge numbers to watch the action.
Germany seems to get snooker. And this weekend they were given a reminder of what an entertaining game it can be, particularly in the hands of a maestro.