Ryan Mears became the first player for over five-and-a-half-years to claim consecutive WEBSF Gold Series event titles following his comeback victory last weekend in Torquay.
Familiar tour stop Galaxy TQ was the host for the second event of this season’s prestigious series, as 28 players from across the region and beyond lined up for the honours and a slice of the 100% entries in prize fund.
In a tight finish to Group A, local cueist James Lee and Darran Lock both qualified after each winning four out of six matches.
Going into the final round of fixtures there were several permutations still possible. This season’s West of England Open Snooker finalist Lee topped the pool despite losing his final game to Alex Mucklow and Lock only went through after seeing Huw Carpenter lose to James Height in a deciding frame. Height and Mucklow also ended on four wins apiece, although Carpenter – who bagged three wins – achieved third spot due to frames won and then frame difference. An effort of 88 from Height enabled him to pocket the non-qualifier highest break prize.
Continuing the good form from his maiden tour triumph at Jesters Snooker Hall in Swindon last month, Mears headed Group B, dropping just one frame in the process and making a 119 break; at the time, the tournament benchmark.
He was joined in the last eight by former Gold Series champion Greg Batten. Batten, who has only just made his return to competitive action this campaign, proved correct the adage that ‘class is permanent’ when he conjured up a 135 total clearance, the highest break of the day, during his progress in second place with five wins.
Haydon Pinhey was irresistible in topping Group C, winning all six of his fixtures 2-0. The Plymouth potter made his intentions clear early on, registering the first ton of the day with exactly 100 in his opening match.
Wales’ Andy Rogers – a former Gold Series event winner in the past – made the trip to South Devon worth his while as he advanced to the quarter-finals in second.
Another Plymouth baizeman in Chris Coumbe won Group D, and he was joined on five wins by Chay Mearns who came second having taken one less frame than Chris.
Rogers eliminated Lee 2-0, while Mears chalked up runs of 63 and 79 in dispatching Mearns by the same scoreline. Lock, who said he was fortunate to get through the groups, ousted Pinhey 2-1 on the colours, despite his opponent fashioning an 85 break to take the tie to a third frame. Batten received a walkover after Coumbe withdrew from the competition (Chris was OK, by the way!)
Mears ended the hopes of Rogers in the semi-finals 2-0 and after being taken to a final frame, Cornishman Lock once again held his nerve there to deny Batten a return to the winner’s circle.
WEBSF tournament stalwart Lock was aiming for a deserved, first gold event title, and it looked as if it was coming when he went 1-0 up and was carefully minding his work in frame two. However, in getting to the position of requiring just one further ball to leave his opponent needing penalty points, Lock failed at a couple of attempted pots. Plucky Mears remained ‘hang tough’ and compiled a gutsy 35 clearance to force a decider.
Having come so agonisingly close in the previous frame, it appeared difficult for Lock to gain any momentum in the third. In what was a scrappy frame, Aldershot star Mears held the advantage pretty much throughout, eventually getting across the line to emulate Andy Neck who last collected back-to-back Gold Waistcoat/Series events towards the start of 2014. Mears also had the satisfaction of being the last WEBSF snooker event winner of the decade.
Event three of the 2019/2020 series takes place on Saturday January 4th, 2020 at Top Q Snooker Club in Gloucester. Entry is open, although spaces are limited. For information on the event and how to enter, please see here.