Stuart Bingham defeated Ali Carter 10-8 in a thrilling contest to lift his maiden Dafabet Masters title at Alexandra Palace in London.
Basildon’s 43-year-old Bingham is now the oldest ever winner of the Masters, taking the record from Ray Reardon, who was just under five months younger when he won the title in 1976.
Victory sees Bingham lift Triple Crown silverware for the second time in his career, following his stunning victory at the 2015 World Championship. He picks up the top prize of £250,000, the richest in the event’s history.
It’s the third year in a row that a new name has been added to the Paul Hunter Trophy, with Mark Allen claiming the title in 2018 and Judd Trump securing his maiden title 12 months ago.
Carter was competing in his first Masters final and third Triple Crown title match. He was a late entrant to the event after world number three Ronnie O’Sullivan pulled out. Carter was runner-up to O’Sullivan at the World Championship in 2008 and 2012. The 40-year-old leaves Alexandra Palace with the consolation of this week’s second prize of £100,000.
In a match which went back and forth, Bingham produced his nerveless best to charge the title down in the closing stretch. He came into tonight 5-3 ahead after this afternoon’s opening session.
However, it was Carter who came storming out of the traps this evening, claiming the first two frames to draw level. He then fired in breaks of 95 and 133 to complete a clean sweep of frames prior to the mid-session and lead 7-5.
The interval came at the right time for Bingham, who looked like a different player when they returned. Breaks of 64, 85, 58 and 88 saw him relentlessly string together four frames in a row and move to the verge of victory at 9-7.
Carter showed his resilience to respond with a run of 77 and close within a frame. However, Bingham wasn’t to be denied his moment. The six-time ranking event winner composed in a supreme run of 109, his first century of the event, to secure Masters glory.
“To get my hands on that trophy, finally, means everything,” said Bingham. “I was getting ready for the loser’s speech at the interval. Ali played brilliantly and it would have been fitting him getting his hands on the Paul Hunter Trophy. I had a coffee and a Mars bar and it seemed to calm me down. Ali missed a couple and I went from strength to strength.
“I just think I have been so tired from the last couple of days, it all came out. Especially at 7-5 down and the way I was thinking. How I put those five frames together to get over the line, I have no idea. Champions are champions for a reason.
“I’ve always played with a smile on my face and enjoyed it all. The atmosphere is similar to the Shoot Out, in that if you can get the crowd involved then it is like having a couple of extra points. Sometimes it felt like an exhibition getting the crowd involved. Sometimes it felt like Bubba Watson trying to get them cheering on the shot.”
Carter said: “You have to say it wasn’t meant to be. I hit him with everything to go 7-5 in front. The interval came at the wrong time for me. I missed a pink with the rest and I never really got another shot.
“I wasn’t even supposed to be in this event. I’ve picked up £100,000 and it pays the school fees! I am gutted I’ve lost, it is all about winning. You guys aren’t interested in talking to me really, it is all about Stuart.
“It has renewed my belief. I am working with Chris Henry as my coach now. That has made a massive difference and hopefully there are a lot of good times to come.”