Barry Hawkins was in fine form as he booked the first place in the Championship League Snooker Winners’ Group with a Group One victory at Crondon Park in Essex.
The Kent potter defeated Stuart Bingham with breaks of 67, 110 and 66 en-route to a 3-1 Group Final win and had earlier made a second career 147 in the round-robin league phase.
Hawkins had seen off Neil Robertson 3-1 in the group semi-finals, but his highlight was undoubtedly the 147 achieved against Stephen Maguire on Monday afternoon.
“I played quite well and it is nice to get through,” said Hawkins. “It is a perfect warm-up for The Masters next week. The last two matches, against Neil and Stuart, were probably the best I played in the group so I am pleased with that and I am delighted to win such a high-quality group – it bodes well for next week.
“I have only just started playing again after the Christmas break but the standard was good and winning though against that field gives you a bit more confidence, because I haven’t been too happy with my form over the last four months.
“The 147 was nice. Not many people can say they have had two 147s in their career and it shows that I am hitting the ball quite well if I am able to do that.”
Bingham had beaten Judd Trump 3-2 from two frames down in his group semi-final. The recent UK Championship finalised missed a red down the rail which he would usually expect to make, putting an end a break of 56 in the deciding frame. The Basildon potter took full advantage with a 72 clearance to seal his place in the final.
Marco Fu completed the group in fifth place and proceeds to group two along with Bingham, Robertson and Trump. Mark King and Stephen Maguire finished sixth and seventh respectively and are eliminated.
The Championship League Snooker event is a venture between Matchroom Sport and Perform where 25 of the game’s elite players compete with all matches broadcast on a host of betting websites.
Each group features seven players with each man playing the other six once in a round-robin basis. Every match is the best of five and the winner gains one point with the loser getting zero.
At the end of the league phase the top four advances to that group’s semi-finals where the two winners meet in the final and the winner advances to the Winners’ Group in February.
The losing finalist, two losing semi-finalists and player finishing fifth move into the next group where they are joined by three new players and the process is repeated.
The winner then goes through to the final group on February 11th and 12th where the big money is up for grabs. The two bottom players are eliminated from the competition, while the remaining four move forward to Group Two to be joined by three new players.