STUART BINGHAM proved dreams do come true by triumphing in the Betfred World Championship final at the Crucible in Sheffield on Monday night.
Bingham trailed Shaun Murphy 9-8 overnight, led 14-11 going into the final session and eventually won 18-15 in an evening of high drama.
The key frame proved to be the 31st in which Murphy missed the yellow, requiring green and brown to go back into the lead at 16-15. He missed and a long safety exchange ensued before Bingham won the frame, which clocked in at 67 minutes.
With the momentum now his again, Bingham made breaks of 55 and then 88 to land the £300,000 first prize after 20 years of toiling away on the circuit.
He becomes only the second player to do the world amateur and professional double after Ken Doherty.
“It’s unreal,” Bingham said. “At 15-15 I thought my chance was gone. My arm felt like someone else’s and the nerves had got to me. But we had a marathon 31st frame, I pinched it on the colours and from then on I played pretty solid.
“I can’t believe it. You dream of it as a kid playing but it’s reality now.”
Bingham had a cold when the tournament began but got past Robbie Williams and then the 2006 champion Graeme Dott.
It became clear he could win the title when he knocked out pre-event favourite Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter-finals before edging a 17-16 thriller against Judd Trump in the semis.
“It’s everything, an unbelievable feeling,” said Bingham, who was supported by his parents, wife Michelle and son, Shae.
“I’m going to be the same person. I’ll be playing in all the tournaments and will hopefully be a good role model. You just have to stick at it: a lot of hard work and belief.”
Murphy looked to be gaining the psychological upper hand but his failure to go 16-15 in front was a definite turning point in the final session.
“I’l probably feel worse tomorrow. I’m disappointed obviously. Nobody wants to lose in the final of the World Championship but the way he played all the way through the tournament, he played like a champion. When I went 8-4 he never baulked at it. He played like a winner all the way through. Sometimes in sport, people are meant to win things.
“Stuart is a massive fan of the game. He loves snooker more than life itself and fully deserves to win. Although I’m disappointed, I’m very happy for him.”
Photographs by Monique Limbos.