The PTC Snooker Grand Final is well underway in NUI Galway. Martin O’Donoghue reports on a match between John Higgins and Ali Carter…
John Higgins joined the ranks of the big name casualties at the PTC Grand Finals in the Bailey Allen Hall last Wednesday evening when he succumbed to a 4-2 defeat at the hands of World No. 15 Ali Carter. As the players got underway, it looked like Higgins would be the first to strike as he got in among the balls. However a missed black on 59 allowed Carter in and he made no mistake with a 79 clearance to pinch it. Four times World Champion Higgins responded quickly with a stylish 111 break to the delight of the Galway crowd.
However, the tempo slowed considerably after that with Carter edging a tactical next frame lasting almost 39 minutes. With the scores tight and just two reds left on the table, Carter managed to snooker Higgins on both and leave the cue ball in the jaws of the trop right corner pocket. Though Higgins managed an escape, it set up Carter for the clearance. Carter extended his advantage to 3-1 in the next. Opening with a 32 point advantage, the Scottish potter missed a black off the spot to allow Carter in to reduce his arrears to 10 points. Higgins got another chance in this frame only to miss another black off the spot much to his visible frustration and although a lively bounce of the bottom cushion left Carter out of position on the blue, Higgins failed to profit.
Despite such errors, Higgins still showed flashes of brilliance and reduced the deficit to just a frame with a splendid break of 83 in frame five. As he built a lead in the next, the crowd sensed a trademark Higgins comeback. However, It was not to be as he allowed Carter back into the frame and safety exchange was snapped by a superb pot on the penultimate red by Carter, developing the pink in the process, and setting the ‘Captain’ on his way to victory.
In Tuesday earlier matches, Rod Lawler defeated Cao Yupeng 4-2 while Chinese no.1 Ding Junhui recovered from 3-1 down to beat Andrew Higginson 4-3. Further surprises followed though as 2006 World Champion Graeme Dott lost 4-1 to Xiao Guodong while the evening session provided much disappointment to a capacity Galway crowd as first World No. 1 Judd trump was edged out 4-3 by Alfie Burden and then Dubliner Ken Doherty lost 4-2 to Norway’s Kurt Maflin.