JUDD TRUMP’S decision to enter the Australian Goldfields Open for the first time in three years paid off in style with a 9-5 victory over Neil Robertson in the final in Bendigo on Sunday.
Trump played superbly all week, scoring really heavily with eight centuries, including two in the final, and cueing with the eye-catching freedom which propelled him to the top of the game.
Next month he turns 25. Even though he seems to have been around forever he is only really just getting started. How much he wins in his career depends on his continuing commitment to a game he has played since boyhood but snooker is tough and any title is worth celebrating, particularly one in which he has beaten the rock solid Robertson.
When Trump began playing snooker it was fun to him. It remained fun even when it became about tournaments as a junior, but he soon discovered that losing wasn’t fun. When your hobby becomes your profession a lot of the fun drains away because it becomes about making a living and also proving yourself.
Trump has proved himself as a top player. His next challenge will be to become world champion but there is no rush. Ronnie O’Sullivan was 25 when he won it for the first time. Mark Selby was 30.
After what looked a disappointing 2013/14 campaign, it was important for Trump to start the new season well, one of the reasons he entered the Australian event. Now he’s won it he is well placed to push on and put himself in the position to win the bigger titles.
His victory brings to an end a good week of snooker. This was perhaps the best staging of the Australian Open from its four outings, with good crowds, respectful of snooker even if most were pulling for Robertson.
IMG's television production was first rate and it was nice to see an event that wasn’t over-crowded with tables and players in a breathless rush to cram all the matches in. Even though table 2 wasn’t televised at least it was in the main part of the arena, the players feeling part of the tournament.
Some feel July is too early to be playing snooker but this is a parochial argument. It isn’t summer in most of the world. It isn’t summer in Australia. This is a country with many snooker enthusiasts and this is their one chance a year to watch the top players.
Anyway, there always was snooker in between the main televised events, either through the various Matchroom tours, independent events in far off climes or endless qualifying. There was far more snooker in the ‘summer’ 20 years ago than there is now, and people just got on with it and played.
Because, as Trump can testify, only through playing can you find confidence. Only through playing can you get results. Only through playing can you win.
And if Trump keeps playing like this he’ll be a handful all season.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.