Monday, 19 March 2012

Galway glory for Lee

There is plenty to admire about Stephen Lee.

As he captured the PTC Grand Finals title in Galway, Ireland, with a 4-0 win against Neil Robertson it seems like a perfect time to take a look at why.

Not only does this victory bring an end to the Aussie's sensational record in major finals that has seen him win in all of his previous nine, this is a big win for Lee in its own right too.

Picture by Monique Limbos
This is his fifth ranking title win and his first in six years.

At 37-years-old, most players begin to see their game fall o into a state of decline but Lee seems to have found a new lease of life recently.

In fact, this win is a great reward for a formidable run back to form. He's now back comfortably in among the top 16 of the world rankings and has achieved passage to at least the quarter-finals in each of the last four events.

He was a quarter-finalist at the Welsh Open, followed by a semi-finalist at the German Masters before finishing as runner-up in the World Open and now winning this title.

Achieving this level of consistency is proof of his return to his best.

To play in two consecutive ranking event finals with the game enjoying such a boom of competition at the top end is an achievement in itself but it's perhaps even greater when you consider how it all ended for Lee in the World Open.

He was comfortably beaten there 10-1 by Mark Allen but has shown great bouncebackability this week in Galway to lift a trophy here and scoop the £70,000 top prize. A defeat of such magnitude as he suffered on Hainan Island can dent the confidence but, right now, Lee is on cloud nine.

He's playing with a smile on his face and looks as sharp as ever.

Things are good for Stephen off of the table and that's being reflected on it. He's got his new cue and is clearly benefiting from the increased opportunity to play in competitive events.

Lee is not the kind of player who can spend hours after hours strapped to the practice table. That may have been a contributory factor to his loss of form for a few years. But with the sport now under the stewardship of Barry Hearn, Lee is playing regularly in the form he loves best.

Lee's resurgence has captured the imagination of most this week but it hasn't happened over night. In fact, people have spoke about Lee winning a PTC title all season as he's been threatening to trouble the top order for a while now. He didn't win any of the 12 preliminary events but, instead, saved himself for the big one.

The series has been a long slog for everyone this season but Lee is worthy of his win.

He's got his head down and worked hard this season, clawing himself back into contention for the biggest titles again.

While his career has been in the shadows of the other players who broke onto the professional circuit alongside him in the class of 1992, maybe he's not quite finished yet. Ronnie O'Sullivan, Mark Williams and John Higgins have all enjoyed bigger successes but, Lee remains the player with the sweetest cue action of them all and is showing all the signs of of continuing at the top for a little while longer yet.

Well played Stephen.

1 comment:

  1. Good to see Lee winning his first tournament in six years, but his form over the past few tournaments suggest a return to form.
    This win puts Rolls Royce in 7th place in the provisional rankings...