Barry Hawkins won the second ranking title of his career with a 4-0 victory over Gerard Greene in the Wyldecrest Parks Players Championship Grand Final.
Hawkins dominated a one-sided final against the tournament’s surprise package, world number 66 Greene. Against his friend and practice partner, world number five Hawkins showed no mercy as he cruised to the bumper £100,000 top prize at the Guild Hall in Preston.
With a rock solid all-round game and composed demeanour at the table, Kent-based 34-year-old Hawkins has shown dramatic improvement over the past two years, winning his first ranking title at the 2012 Australian Goldfields Open and now doubling his tally. He also won the Shoot-Out in 2012 and was runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan at the World Championship last season. He will certainly be a threat again at the Crucible next month.
The tournament in Preston was the culmination of a series of events around Europe and in China which have run throughout the season. In fact Hawkins was grateful even to be among the line-up, as he finished 25th on the European Tour Order of Merit with only the top 24 due to qualify. But Stuart Bingham’s victory in the last Asian Tour event meant that he qualified from that list, allowing one extra player from the European list a spot at the Guild Hall. And Hawkins took full advantage with a series of fine displays.
He was particularly impressive in a 4-1 defeat of Judd Trump in the semi-finals earlier today, and continued in the same vein against Greene. Breaks of 117 and 75 put him 2-0 up within 20 minutes, his opponent failing to register a point.
Greene got his first scoring chance in frame three and made 34, but later missed a tricky black at 35-1. The Hawk swooped with a 50 clearance for 3-0. Runs of 22 and 30 put him ahead in frame four, and though he missed a simple red to a centre pocket, he soon got another chance as Greene’s attempted red to a baulk corner finished in the jaws. Hawkins added enough points to make sure of the title.
“I have played well against some very good players and come through a strong field,” said Hawkins, who flies to Beijing tomorrow as he plays his first match in the China Open in Tuesday. “I rode my luck during the week because I could have lost to Ryan Day, he missed the brown in the last frame. But overall I think I deserved to win. It was a big occasion with big money so I’m delighted to win. I’m getting to the later stages of tournaments more often now and when you do that, eventually the door will open for you.”
Greene enjoyed the best week of his 21-year career so far, reaching his first ranking final and collecting his biggest cheque – £38,000. Having slipped down the rankings in recent years, he feared for his tour place at the start of the current season. A run to the final of the Paul Hunter Classic European Tour event last August allayed that fear and booked him a place in Preston, and his run this week is a huge boost to his confidence and bank balance.
“There have been some tough times over the last few years,” said the 40-year-old Rainham-based cueman. “I always felt I was good enough to do well but I seem to bring the best out of other players. Consistency and confidence have been lacking. This has been a great week and I’m looking forward to the World Championship qualifiers now. I’m just disappointed with how I played in the final. I didn’t get a shot for the first two frames and then I missed the black in the third when I could have got back to 2-1.”