Nigel Bond completed his mission at the Caesarscasino.com Snooker Shoot-Out by beating Robert Milkins in the final of the new tournament.
Veteran Bond won his first televised tournament in 14 years by beating Milkins 58-24 in the one-frame knockout event at the Circus Arena in Blackpool.
The three-day event featured the world’s top 64 players and an innovative format with a shot clock and frames lasting a maximum of ten minutes. And it provided plenty of gripping drama with several frames decided in the dying seconds.
Derbyshire’s Bond, age 45 and ranked 37th in the world, eventually took the £32,000 top prize and won his first title since the 1997 Scottish Masters.
He built a 20-2 lead in the final, then capitalised on a loose safety from Gloucester’s Milkins to pot a long red and compile a calm break of 38, which proved decisive.
“It’s amazing to be a champion again after all these years,” said the player who lost to Stephen Hendry in the 1995 World Championship final and beat John Higgins to win the British Open the following year. “This event is not for the feint-hearted, but I proved I can still pot the balls under pressure when it matters.
“With the shot clock you’ve got no time to think, you just go for the first ball you see and knock it in the hole. It stops you thinking about what can go wrong. It’s been a fantastic event, a great atmosphere with full crowds every day.”
It’s one of a range of new tournaments introduced by World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn this season, and Bond is optimistic about the future of the sport.
“If anyone can turn it around, Barry will,” he added. “Only time will tell, but best of luck to him. This tournament has been brilliant for me, it’s helped to get more of a buzz about the game and it’s good to have snooker back on Sky television.
“We’ve got another new event next week in Berlin, the German Masters, and I’m looking forward to that because they’ve sold thousands of tickets and hopefully it will be a similar atmosphere.”
Ronnie O’Sullivan made two of the four centuries scored during the event, including the top break of 123. The Rocket reached the semi-finals before being stopped by World No 36 Milkins, while Bond beat Marcus Campbell in the other semi.