Updated Tournament Draw
Day 7 - The Final
Mark Williams v Stuart Bingham
The fans in Bendigo and the millions watching the match across the world were not let down as we saw one of the most exciting finals in recent years, and it is only the first time this event has been staged in Oz!
Both players were looking in form coming in to this match but arguably Stuart Bingham had the toughest path in to the final having to have to beat the likes of Ding Junhui, Mark Allen and Shaun Murphy where as Mark had all qualifiers but he nearly lost against Dominic Dale in the quarters so take nothing away from the Welshman.
Stuart started the match of sensationally by hitting a 139 in the opening frame and leading Mark 3-1 going in to the mid-session interval. Stuart started to struggle when they came back though as Mark pulled it back to 4-4 and then eventually to 8-5 with the aid of breaks of 89, 85, 57, 52, 71 and 68 as he went one away from victory in front of the capacity crowd in the Bendigo Stadium.
But then Stuart played the best snooker of his career to come back to bring the match in to a decider. It was a tense affair between the players at the start as many reds went up the other end of the table but a brilliant cross double from Stuart let him in first.
After scoring around 54 he got unlucky and went in-off in the middle pocket but Mark missed a simple red and later a simple snooker and Stuart clinched the last two colours to win his first ever ranking title 9-8.
"This is without doubt the best week of my life - it's just an unbelievable feeling," said 35-year-old Bingham, a professional player for 16 years who has experienced the lows and now the highs of snooker.
"This proves the depth in the standard of snooker and shows anyone on the tour can win a tournament if they knuckle down and put the hard work in, that's all I've done.
"It will help all professional players and I've always said you only get out of the game what you put into it.
"I've doubted myself before and when I lost ten matches on the trot my confidence was at an all-time low and you hope and wonder where the next win is coming from."
He had only reached the quarter-finals of ranking events before and had received criticism over a perceived lack of 'bottle' in close matches when under pressure.
That boiled over this week in a bitter public spat with Mark Allen before and after their clash in the last eight, which Bingham won.
But the man from Basildon, who was once ranked 76th out of 90 players, believed this victory was the perfect answer to any critics.
"I don't need to say any more. I just have a nice trophy to prove it and $60,000 in the bank," added Bingham. "I don't care what anyone says. I have this for the rest of my life and no one can take this title away from me.
"Now the hard work comes as I have to live up to being a ranking event winner and now I'm the hunted instead of the hunter.
"I've been knocking on the door but now the door is open and I've walked through it and grabbed the trophy with both hands."
"I went 3-1 up but something happened and I switched off," said Bingham "My potting percentage went down to 20 per cent but I was getting chances every frame.
"Mark being such a good player cleared up and took the game. My body language was all over the place and I was slumped in my chair just disappointed.
"At 8-5 he had me in all sorts of trouble but the match changed when he snookered me and I got out of it and snookered him - I had hit it and hoped.
"My body language changed and I thought 'this is your chance'.
"At 8-8 coming out to the table and the crowd's reaction gave me goose pimples and I was shaking. I had made a game of it and the momentum was with me. I played a double and if I'd missed that I would've lost 9-8."
Williams admitted he was shocked to have lost the final. He said: "At 8-5 I was cruising and had him in all sorts of trouble. He managed to get out of a snooker and won it from then on.
"Every little flick went his way and there's nothing you can do about that. I had him perfectly at 8-5 but from then on he played well and deserved to win.
"Overall I played quite well and I can't say I didn't play well in the final.
"I've enjoyed it and the crowd has been fantastic. I would like to thank them and everyone to do with the tournament.
"It has been a fantastic success as far as I'm concerned and I think we will be here for many years."
Quotes courtesy; World Snooker
This caps off an excellent week for Stuart Bingham in Australia. He already looked to be in some sort of form recently having reached the last 16 of the world championship and nearly beating Ding Junhui and reaching the semi-finals of PTC1 last month.
Now ranked provisionally at no.11 in the world his position in this sason's UK championship and Masters is almost a certainty and also winning this tournament means he will be playing in the Premier League next year, another first for Stuart.
Mark Williams though will obviously be dissappointed. It is almost excatly the same to what happened to him against John Higgins in the 2010 UK Championship Final so he seems to have problems with clinching matches from far ahead. It still has been a good tournament for Mark though and he is back provisionally to no.1 in the world having just passed Mark Selby, so that's at least some condolence for him
Overall I really enjoyed this event. Having a full-ranking tournament in Australia without any bells and whistles such as shorter frame matches, shot clocks, five table set-ups etc worked really well and the crowds voted in favour of it by attending very well through out the week in Bendigo.
The coverage could of been improved on from a international viewer's perspective though. If it wasn't for the EuroSport player I wouldn't of been able to seen the matches that were played in the morning as the broadcast usually started around 10.30 in the UK.
It was a bit annoying not even having a stationary camera on table two to be able to see what was going on their during the intervals of other matches, but other than that it was a great event to watch.
Once again, a big congratulations to Stuart Bingham who takes his first ranking title of his 16-year career and all the best for the upcoming season! His next match will be at the Shanghai Masters qualifiers at the start of next month.
Stuart Bingham - Australian Goldfields Open Champion 2011