Andy Symons joined an exclusive band of cueists who have won back-to-back Gold Waistcoat / Gold Series tour event titles following an emotional victory at Frames Snooker and Pool Club last weekend.
Tavistock maestro Symons emerged from a 27-player strong entry in Weston-super-Mare, featuring several former overall series and tour event champions, and other top-quality opposition from across the south west and beyond. A man on a mission, Symons made his intentions clear early on as he headed Group A with six wins from six and relinquished just two frames. Going through to the knockouts with Andy was James Height (four wins from six), who narrowly ousted Billy Ginn to qualification by just one frame.
In Group B, former Gold Series champion Haydon Pinhey got off to a fast start as he rattled in a 121 clearance during his opening match; this would stand as the highest of the day. Pinhey would progress through to the last eight but he finished behind event one and two winner Ryan Mears who racked up a full quota of match wins.
Greg Batten – another former claimant of this coveted series title – continues to impress on his return to the circuit as he topped Group C. Late entrant Tom Peasland was certainly pleased that he made the commitment to come as he also advanced to the last eight in second place.
There was a Torbay lockout in Group D as century break makers James Lee and Andy Neck qualified. Lee, runner-up at the West of England Open earlier this season, notched up maximum wins, although record three-time series winner Neck was less comfortable as he pipped Wes Peters into second by virtue of a frame.
Along with all eight qualifiers, Steve Brookshaw (60), Ginn (70,66), Darran Lock (83 – highest non-qualifier break, 75), Andy Rogers (61), Jamie Trump (73), Ben Freeman (53) and Wayne Branton (59) all crafted half-century plus breaks, too.
In the knockouts, Symons constructed a run of 61 as he eliminated Peasland 2-0; Lee (62 break) defeated Pinhey by the same scoreline. Deciding frames were required as Mears and Height saw off Neck and Batten respectively.
Symons (64 clearance) ended the hopes of Mears 2-0 in an exciting semi-final – a result that could have a big bearing on the overall rankings at the end of the campaign – while Height denied Lee consecutive gold event final appearances, 2-0, in the other last four tie.
For the second time in the tournament, Symons would face Height, but this time it was for the title. Again, it was Symons coming out on top, this time with a 2-0 result and the help of a 60 break.
Considering the personal tragedy that Symons has endured over recent weeks, this is an astonishing triumph and performance in which he dropped just two frames throughout the entire day.
Symons’ victory sees him move up into first place on the rankings list as he seeks a maiden overall Gold Series title. Mears – also looking for the same accomplishment – trails by just six points, though. In what is sure to be a thrilling climax to the season at Top Q in Gloucester on Saturday 7th March, third placed Lee is also in contention for the accolade.