Sheriff Shoots Down Bingham
World Champion Stuart Bingham became the only top 16 player to lose on the opening day of the BetVictor Welsh Open as he went down 4-1 to Anthony Hamilton.
Veteran Hamilton, nicknamed the Sheriff of Pottingham, booked a last 64 meeting with Allan Taylor and left world number two Bingham still waiting for his first title of the season.
World number 68 Hamilton won a scrappy opening frame then added the second after Bingham missed the final pink to a centre pocket. A green to black clearance put Hamilton 3-0 up. Bingham pulled one back and looked set to make it 3-2 until he missed a red to a centre pocket on 71. Hamilton fashioned a fantastic 72 clearance to complete the scoreline.
“I’ve been playing well for the last few months without getting the results,” said 44-year-old Hamilton. “When I saw the draw I thought Stuart would be tough, but I also felt that he wouldn’t have wanted to draw me.
“I’ve dropped out of the top 64 and my tour place is in doubt. It’s the first time that has happened to me and I feel as if I’m under water. It is not enjoyable but it has focussed me. I don’t fancy having to go to Q school because that’s like a scramble in the playground.”
Hamilton has suffered from neck and back problems for several years but revealed that an aloe vera drink used to treat osteoporosis has made a difference. “I’ve been using it for the last few months and it allows me to do solo practice for around three hours a day, which is what I need,” he added.
Defending champion John Higgins took just 59 minutes to beat Andy Hicks 4-0 with top breaks of 74, 80 and 100.
“It’s always special to come to Wales and I’ve done well a few times here,” said Higgins, who beat Ben Woollaston in the final last year to capture a record fourth Welsh Open crown. “It was a massive turning point for me to win here last year. At the time I was in big danger of losing my top 16 spot, but winning gave me the confidence to go on and get a couple more titles and climb back up the rankings.”
Shaun Murphy enjoyed a 4-1 win over Itaro Santos with a top break of 108. Brazil’s Santos was on target for a 147 in frame four but missed the last red on 112.
“I think he’d have taken the £12,000 given the chance,” joked Murphy in reference to Ronnie O’Sullivan’s decision to turn down down a possible maximum earlier in the day.
“I could understand where Ronnie was coming from although it was a shame for the fans. Would I have done it? No. But Ronnie seems to be able to make 147s at will. The main thing is that it gets people talking about snooker. People say there are no characters now but barely a week goes by when he’s not in the thick of it.”
Home favourite Mark Williams scraped a 4-3 win over China’s Lyu Chenwei in a largely scrappy match which lasted 2 hours and 50 minutes. Lyu came from 3-1 down to 3-3 and had chances in the decider but crucially missed the final green to a baulk corner and a relieved Williams potted green, brown and blue to reach round two.
“I should be out really, I’m through but if I play anything like that again then I’m out in the next round so it’s not really going to make much difference,” said two-time World Champion Williams.
“Overall it was one of the worst performances I’ve put in. He didn’t play very well either, he was terrible. A little bit of composure in the last frame and he definitely would have beaten me.”
UK Champion Neil Robertson was also pushed all the way before beating Fraser Patrick 4-3. A break of 107 helped Robertson build a 3-1 lead, then his opponent got back to 3-3 before the Australian dominated the decider 76-0.
“The early rounds here are very tough because the matches are short,” said Robertson. “You just have to try to get through to when it goes down to two tables. I had to really work hard to maintain my focus.”
Judd Trump top scored with 124 in a 4-0 win over Michael Leslie while last year’s runner-up Ben Woollaston beat Jamie Cope by the same scoreline.