BARRY HAWKINS claimed the first spot in the winners’ group of the Championship League with a 3-1 defeat of Stuart Bingham, who had topped the table after the round robin section at Crondon Park golf club on Tuesday.
Hawkins compiled breaks of 67, 110 and 66 during the final. He made four centuries during the two days, including a 147, the second maximum of his career and only the second in Championship League history.
“The 147 was nice,” he said. “Not many people can say they have had two 147s in their career and it shows that I am hitting the ball quite well if I am able to do that.
“I have only just started playing again after the Christmas break but the standard was good and winning though against that field gives you a bit more confidence, because I haven’t been too happy with my form over the last four months.”
Hawkins is one of the most improved players of recent years, elevating himself from the status of a player who several times came close to a breakthrough to one of the most consistent performers at the top level.
He won the 2012 Australian Goldfields Open, his maiden ranking title, and reached the 2013 World Championship final. Last season, he won a second ranking crown, the Players Championship, and reached the Crucible semis.
The Championship League, which is streamed live on the internet, features seven groups, with each winner contesting the winner’s group next month.
Mark King, who had stepped in at the last minute to replace an unwell Shaun Murphy, and Stephen Maguire were relegated. Bingham, Judd Trump and Marco Fu return for group two with Ali Carter, Robert Milkins, Michael Holt and Matt Selt, who comes in as Neil Robertson has withdrawn citing illness.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.