Hunter is at it again
Paul Hunter should copyright his famous 'Plan B' after his magic formula did the trick again on Monday night in a stunning Masters final against Ronnie O'Sullivan.
Three times now Hunter has won the Wembley crown in the last four years.
Each time he's needed some interval inspiration and each time fiancée Lyndsey Fell has been the catalyst for his success.
"She's good at what she does," grinned the 25-year-old Yorkshireman who escaped family and friends at the interval to frolic with Lyndsey at his hotel.
"And of course we put Plan B into operation," added Hunter after collecting a ￡100,000 first prize in front of 2,600 excited spectators.
When O'Sullivan led 6-2 after the first session, Hunter was certainly in need of some inspiration.
But the half-time love break appeared to have failed when the Rocket fired into a 7-2 lead.
However, slowly the match began to turn as O'Sullivan couldn't repeat his earlier form.
Even at 9-8, pin-up Hunter wouldn't lie down and he captured two cagey and lengthy frames to snatch the trophy from O'Sullivan's grasp.
In total, he knocked in five century breaks as he repeated the 10-9 scoreline he achieved against Fergal O'Brien in 2001 and Mark Williams 12 months later.
"I think this win tops the other two," smiled Hunter.
"I knew I had done it before but to do it again is unbelievable. I just stuck in there.
"It was a lot to ask when I went so far behind. But I just tried to concentrate on my own game and forget about Ronnie.
"I kept plugging away because I was in a situation where I hadn't too much to lose. Then things started to happen and I began to sense I might do it again.
"I remember watching the Masters on television as a kid. The first time I played here as a wild-card against Mark Williams I could hardly hold the cue.
"I knew then that I really wanted to win this tournament because there's such a great atmosphere here; it's such a great venue. Now I've won it three times."
And Hunter's victory helped erase the memory of last season's world championship defeat by Ken Doherty. On that occasion he suffered his own collapse when letting slip a 15-9 lead and losing the game 17-16.
Last night O'Sullivan suffered a similar reversal, just as he had done in the 1997 final against Steve Davis. Seven years ago he was 8-4 up on the six-times world champion and went down 10-8.
O'Sullivan, who won a final-frame decider against Davis to win the Welsh Open in Cardiff two weeks ago, said: "At the end of the day, I've lost a game of snooker. Paul played well and deserved to win. You have got to take your hat off to him.
"When he was so far behind he could easily have thrown in the towel. But it was a good match to be involved in and life goes on.
"I've only lost a game of snooker; I could easily be in Iraq.
"Obviously I'm a little bit disappointed but as long as everybody enjoyed the match, then that's the most important thing.
"Paul came out with all guns blazing tonight and was hard to beat. That's why he's such a great player. He plays well, he's a tough competitor."
O'Sullivan didn't exactly finish empty-handed after one of snooker's best ever finals. He collected a ￡50,000 runners-up prize and another ￡10,000 for his high break of 138 against Jimmy White in the semi-finals.
But his break building deserted him during the amazing turnaround.
World number eight Hunter, who fired in breaks of 117 and 127 in the afternoon exchanges, added further runs of 102, 109 and 110.
In contrast, O'Sullivan made only one break of 40 in the evening play after earlier contributing runs of 56, 80, 86, 87, 84 and 79.
"It's a good job there isn't a tournament starting in the next couple of days because I will need a few days to calm down after this match," added a happy Hunter.