MANY lovers of snooker may have labelled Stuart Bingham’s moment of destiny a big surprise – but not according to the man who has helped transform him into a winner on the big stage.
Talking to The Old Green Baize, Bingham’s coach Stephen Feeney said he told the 38-year-old he would go on to lift snooker’s greatest prize when first working with him five years ago.
Bingham became the third oldest player to win the World Championship at the Crucible after beating Shaun Murphy 18-15 in a thrilling final at the famous Sheffield venue.
It was a moment that not many had predicted before a cueball was struck at this year’s World Championship.
Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump were the two main favourites according to the bookies at the start of the tournament but Bingham showed tremendous nerve and quality on the table to defeat them both on route to a career changing victory in the final.
For years Bingham had been considered as one of snooker’s journeymen who could pull off a shock victory against one of the big stars here and there.
But since joining forces with Feeney – the founder of sports coaching firm SightRight UK – five years ago Bingham has gone from a journeyman to a world champion and now is officially ranked the second best player in the world.
Under Feeney’s guidance Bingham lifted two major ranking titles prior to the World Championship, was a runner-up in two other major events and won smaller events including three PTC events in Asia and the former Premier League competition which was broadcast on Sky Sports.
He has also made back to back semi-final appearances in the UK Championship only to lose final frame deciders on each occasion – losing to Neil Robertson and Ronnie O’Sullivan in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
Feeney said he told Bingham to use the heartbreak of those semi-final defeats to spur him on at the Crucible – snooker’s biggest stage.
“To see Stuart lift that trophy was something I said to him five years he would do,” he said.
“It possibly could have come earlier but he had been ready for it.
“When he lost to O’Sullivan in the semi-finals of the UK Championship in York I told him that the experience would serve him to win the World Championship and it has.
“The focus he maintained throughout the whole tournament was non other but exceptional. There were times when he had taken a punch and there were times he delivered a punch of his own.
“I must admit I welled up a couple of times when I saw him really pushing forward and delivering his top game. Seeing him lift the trophy is one of the things that will live with me for the rest of my life.
“He is now world champion and I want to take him to world number one.”
Bingham’s achievements while working with Feeney
- 2011 Australian Goldfields Open champion – Beat Mark Williams 9-8 to lift first major title
- 2012 Premier League champion – Beat Judd Trump 7-2 to lift the Sky Sports screened non-ranking event featuring snooker’s elite stars
- 2012 APTC1 & APTC3 champion – Final wins over Stephen Lee and Li Hang earn Bingham two Asian PTC titles (minor ranking events)
- 2012 Wuxi Classic finalist – Loses in his second major ranking final to Ricky Walden but makes a 147 in a 10-4 defeat.
- 2013 Welsh Open finalist – Loses to Stephen Maguire in a close Welsh Open final – his first major final in the UK
- 2014 Shanghai Masters champion – Bingham secures his second major ranking title beating Mark Allen 10-3
- 2014 APTC 2 winner – Just weeks after Shanghai Masters success, Bingham wins his third Asian PTC title beating Oliver Lines
- 2015 World Championship winner – Despite odds of 50/1 before a cueballl was struck, Bingham defeated Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump and Shaun Murphy to become world champion
Feeney, a specialist coach and inventor of SightRight – a revolutionary coaching system, which takes the guess work out of aiming and ensures the development of ‘on-line’ pre-shot routines, technical alignment and accurate cueing, has also helped other sports stars to major success including golfers Darren Clarke and Stephen Gallacher and 16-times world Darts champion Phil Taylor.
And Feeney has joined forces with cue makers BCE Riley to launch a range of SightRight cues and a snooker coaching app to help maximise performance.
Bingham’s success on the biggest stage is only good new for Feeney who hopes more and more players will use his methods to take their game to a new level.
“I’m quite proud of having Stuart as my first world snooker champion using SightRight methods,” he added.
“I’ve delivered winners in Darren Clarke and Stephen Gallacher in Golf and Phil Taylor in Darts. And this moment had been coming in snooker.
“People do go off-line and some of them do not find their find their line of aim. Previously Stuart was always going off-line and never able to hit the ball straight and these were technical elements which I have helped put right.
“The partnership with BCE Riley and the sanction of the technology in the cues by World Snooker is going to revolutionise the way things are done.
“You go into your average club and you see players struggling and there are very easy ways for them to improve their play just by very simple methods and the SightRight cues will help them do that.
“Many players are just used to cues being a piece of wood with a ferrule and a tip, not something which can help improve their game.”
The below video filmed a couple of years ago gives a further insight into how Feeney’s SighRight UK methods have made strides in the world of snooker.