Martin Gould dedicated his first ranking title success to the memory of his late mother after winning the German Masters on Sunday night.
The 34-year-old Londoner was made a slight favourite by the bookmakers over Belgium hot-shot Luca Brecel at the Tempodrom, and justified that tag with a solid display and 9-5 win in Berlin.
In front of a packed 2,500 crowd at what must currently be snooker’s greatest stage with the possible exception of the Crucible, Gould did what he had to do for a major breakthrough.
The title, trophy and £60,000 saw him also back in to the elite top 16 and in good shape to reach the Crucible without any need for three gruelling qualifiers.
But on an emotional evening Gould, who lost 9-8 to John Higgins in the Australian Open final this season, his second major showpiece, instantly looked to the heavens with the match won, having lost mum Shirley to cancer 12 years ago.
Gould, in his 10th year as a pro, said: “It was probably off camera but when I won and stood by my chair I kissed my fingers and pointed to the sky for my mum. I am sure she was up there delighted and watching down having a whisky.
“And my dad will have been dancing around the room and my sister, also back home, crying her eyes out. It is great to finally be in that winner’s circle.
“The monkey has certainly gone for a wander now off my back, and I am delighted. I felt the pressure at the start of being the higher-ranked player, but I settled down.
“It was a wonderful feeling to get over the line. The pink in the middle to leave him requiring snookers was dead straight into the middle but my arm was shaking like anything.
“If he had got three snookers after I potted the next red, then it really wouldn’t have been meant to be for me to win.
Brecel was happy with reaching his first final and sampling the occasion, experience and atmosphere, but less pleased with his displays over the week.
He said: “Again in the final I made too many mistakes, Martin was the better player and he deserved it. But there have been positives to take too.”
The number of high-profile casualties from the qualifiers onwards created an opening for someone, and these two took it to reach the final.
As they struggled to find rhythm in a tense start, plenty of the so-called bigger names must have been squirming and regretting a title chance gone begging – but things did spark into life towards the end of the afternoon session.
The bookmakers made Gould a slight favourite at start of play, and he won a vital frame to get level at 1-1 after losing the opener.
Gould had played the better snooker of the week in beating Judd Trump, Graeme Dott, Mark Williams and Ben Woollaston, and he made it three frames in a row to lead 3-1 at the interval, helped by a break of 72.
Brecel, who seems as if he has been around for ages, had breaks of 51 and 59 in getting back to 3-2 and 4-3 down respectively, that last steal triggering a clenching of the teeth and a pumping of the fist. But Gould simply responded with 104, the highest run of the contest, to take a two-frame lead into the evening.
The nerves of the early exchanges seemed to have gone, happily, and there was once again a terrific atmosphere inside the Tempodrom for the evening finale. Gould’s initial 110 showed he meant business and when the gap got to 7-3 it was just too big to close.
Gould’s previous successes had come in the quick-fire Power Snooker and Shootout events, and at a PTC event four years ago. A fine player and a likeable and engaging individual, he has retained a strong self-belief despite career setbacks, and also the strength of character to do his own thing and not necessarily follow the snooker herd at a tournament.
It is also as a side issue another feather in the cap for Steve Feeney’s SightRight team after Stuart Bingham’s world title last year.
Photograph courtesy of World Snooker