Karl Sutton rounded off a superb year on the UK Pool Tour by winning the final Challenge event of the season. Sutton, who up until this year had not picked up a tour title, has had a phenomenal season, winning tours 3 and 4, including doing the double on tour 3 by picking up the Challenge event in the same weekend and his overall performance in the Challenge event this year would be difficult to rival. The first Challenge event of the season in Blackpool saw him pick up the title with a 6-3 victory over Danny Davies. The second event saw him narrowly lose in the last 32 to Harjeet Singh 5-4. He bounced back at the third event, picking the title up with a resounding 6-2 victory against Gurvinder Gill. The fourth tour saw him in with a shout of repeating the double as he picked up the tour title on the Saturday night and then found himself in the semi final of the Challenge on the Sunday afternoon. The match went all the way with Sutton just missing out 5-4 to the inform Eddie Barker, who had recently made the semi final of the World Championships. The fifth event saw him in with the possibility of topping both league tables and he didn’t disappoint as he made the quarter finals of the tour, losing to the eventual winner, Phil Harrison, and won the Challenge event for the third time in the season with a 6-4 win over Cambridge’s Dom Cooney, a young and talented player who will no doubt be picking up big titles himself in the coming years.
His route to the final was an especially difficult one, defeating the current World Masters Champion, Callum Singleton, 5-0 in the last 16, Neil Davey 5-2 in the quarter final, and up and coming Sam Bircher, 5-4 in the semi-final, which also happened to be a repeat of the tour 3 final.
Cooney made his route to the final look relatively straightforward with convincing wins against Reece Townsend, Paul Carr and Jack Pople. His only real test proved to be a 5-4 victory over Warrington’s Phil Naylor. A special mention also to tour regular Paul Carr on reaching the quarter finals, having some convincing victories on the Saturday before winning two tough games, firstly a 5-4 victory against ex-Premier League player, Lee Howitt, and then 5-3 against Marvin Nestor to make the quarters, a tour best for Paul, highlighting that a bit of dedication to the game can pay dividends.
Sutton finished with on 58 points on the tour rankings, 6 ahead of Phil Harrison, and 62 on the Challenge rankings, a massive 20 points ahead of his closest rival, England teammate Shane Thompson. After finishing 19th in last years tour and 60th in 2016, something has clearly clicked for the Ipswich cueist as he has gone from strength to strength this season. He also figured in the European Championships, losing out in a deciding frame to Ben Flack, and recently picked up the National Amateur title in Great Yarmouth. This will certainly be a season that Sutton will not want to end and will be looking to build on for next year with a view to going one further than his 2016 effort in the World Championships, where he lost out to Shaun Chipperfield in the final, and you certainly wouldn’t want to back against him in this kind of form!