WELSH Open champion Stephen Maguire has said he doubted whether he could win another ranking title after going almost five years without any major silverware to his name.
It could be fair to say the Scot was proud as punch after beating Stuart Bingham 9-8 to lift the Welsh Open trophy.
When Maguire potted the red in Sunday night’s final frame which sealed his first ranking title since 2008 he punched the table three times in delight as he ended five years of hurt.
And snooker fans can not argue that this title was not coming with the Scot constantly knocking on the trophy cabinet door.
Last year Maguire looked well set to win the German Masters until the genius of Ronnie O’Sullivan came roaring back at him in the final after the Scot gained a 6-3 lead.
There was to be more heartbreak more than a month later for the Glasgow star when he made a brilliant fightback in the China Open final only to lose the deciding frame against Peter Ebdon and see another title slip by.
And there was even more bad luck for Maguire just weeks later in the World Championship when he missed the chance to play in his first world final at the Crucible Theatre when losing to 18-12 to Ali Carter in the semi-final.
Trailing 7-5 on Sunday, it looked as if the Newport final would prove to be another disappointing night for Maguire. But this time was handed a huge bit of luck when Bingham missed a crucial frame-winning pink. And that bit of luck changed the match as it gave Maguire the lift he needed to get over the winning line.
With the long wait for silverware over, Maguire told World Snooker he hopes to build on his Welsh Open triumph after fearing his moment in the spotlight would never return.
“I’m delighted, especially the way I finished,” said Maguire. “I thought I had let it slip when it went 8-8 as Stuart made a great clearance and I wasn’t feeling good. I was chuffed to get a chance in the last frame and make it count.
“I’ll feel great for the next couple of days and then it’s on to the next tournament. I want to push on and not have to wait another five years for the next one. There were times when I doubted whether I would ever do it again. It has hurt to see other players lift trophies, especially when I think I’m a better player than some of them.”
“I lost a couple of finals last season which were painful. I should have beaten Ronnie in Germany, then I played Ebdon in China and I was fighting for my life but the last frame just got away from me. So to win this one is sweet.”
As for Bingham it will be case of reflecting on what could have been after missing a couple of great chances to clinch his first major ranking title in the UK.
But reaching the final in Newport continues what has been a great season for the Basildon star after winning the Premier League, two Asian PTC events and reaching the final of the Wuxi Classic at the start of the season.”
The runner-up said: “I feel as if I threw it away, I just tightened up a bit towards the end. It would have meant so much to win it so I’m gutted.
“I should have gone 8-5 up, I missed an easy pink, I was just scared of playing a push shot. Then in the next frame I was 40 ahead and missed a bad blue.
“I held myself together to make a clearance to go 8-8 but just couldn’t get a chance in the decider. I never go for plants unless they are 100 per cent, I thought the one I went for was perfect so maybe I got a kick. Stephen showed what a class act he is with his break in the last.”