MARCO FU’s 147 in beating Stuart Bingham 6-3 at Ally Pally tonight was the third in the 601 matches played in the history of the Masters so although maximums have become more common they are still a relatively rare occurrence, especially on the big stage.
Fu’s first came at the 2000 Scottish Masters and had the distinction of being the first to be shown live on the internet. His second came in the qualifying for the 2012 World Open, also on the internet but, in terms of the arena, in front of the proverbial one man and his dog.
These were laudable achievements but to do it at Alexandra Palace in front of a large crowd in one of the sport’s oldest and best loved tournaments is something else entirely. Fu follows only Kirk Stevens in 1984 and Ding Junhui in 2007 to have compiled a Masters max.
Fu has had his coach, Wayne Griffiths, who is based in Hong Kong, with him this last week getting ready for the tournament. Like his celebrated father, Terry, Wayne is a quietly motivational presence, offering advice and a few soothing words at the right time.
Not that Fu needs much soothing. There are few more level-headed top players and perhaps none as unassuming. He takes just about everything in his stride and his emotions usually remain well hidden.
This in itself makes him hard to beat. You never know what he’s thinking, how he’s feeling or whether you’ve got him.
His has been a career marked by peaks and troughs, as most are, but he seems to have been much more consistent these last couple of years and is back where he belongs, in the world’s top 16.
147s no longer gain the headlines they once did. The number of matches and tournaments have grown and there is greater strength in depth than ever.
But Fu’s maximum is special. He made it on one of snooker’s most intimidating stages, the sort on which careers come to be defined.
Not that Fu is likely to shout about it: his break tonight was a significant achievement by a modest man.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.