STUART BINGHAM was crowned champion of the world after he clinched victory in one of the most entertaining World Championship finals the sport has ever seen.
The 38-year-old, who previously beat Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump to reach the final, has been playing for more than 20 years and tonight he finally reached the pinnacle of his career after a thrilling 18-15 victory over Shaun Murphy.
He is third oldest winner at the Crucible and the 20th different winner of snooker’s greatest prize at the famous Sheffield venue.
Bingham clinched his first World Championship title and the £300,000 cash prize with a break of 88 in the final frame of a final which had much drama and will be remembered for many years to come.
But for Bingham, his family and his management team it will be a day they will remember for the rest of their lives after dreaming and working hard for this moment for so long.
Considered one of snooker’s journeymen, Bingham in recent years has worked hard to improve his status in the sport and the results have paid off enormously under new coach Steve Feeney. His efforts have seen him turn into to a ranking event winner, a top 16 regular and now a world champion.
And the once journeyman can begin his new journey as the reigning world champion knowing his name will go down in history as a world champion.
Leading 14-11 from an impressive penultimate session, there were signs the pressure of the winning line was getting to Bingham as missed pots and a stroke of bad luck here and there led to Murphy winning four of the first five frames to go 15-15.
With the match on a knife edge the pair got the crowd and millions of TV viewers on the edge of their seat as the pair battled it out in a competitive, see-saw frame which lasted more than an hour – the second longest of the tournament. But it was Bingham who clinched it as Murphy failed to get the snooker’s he needed.
And winning that marathon long frame turned out to be the turning point as breaks of 55 and 88 helped him to the magic 18 frames needed for ultimate glory.
Murphy will ponder what may have been as he leaves home tonight but he should reflect on a brilliant season which has seen him produce the form of his life. Winning the Masters title and appearances in the German Masters final and the World Championship put him in a far better place than he was twelve months ago.
But tonight belonged to Bingham – a day he will never forget and a day he possibly would never have thought would come to fruition.
BINGHAM’S ROUTE TO WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP GLORY
R1 – beat Robbie Williams 10-7
R2 – beat Graeme Dott 13-5
QF – beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 13-9
SF – beat Judd Trump 17-16
Final – beat Shaun Murphy 18-15