Harrison – A Master again

World Masters Finalists 2016
World Masters Finalists 2016, Phil Harrison and Nick Bell

The World Amateur Masters is amongst the toughest tournaments of the pool calendar and arguably the second most prestigious tournament behind the World Championship. The line-up for 2016 consisted of the majority of players competing in the World Championships plus a host of top quality qualifiers making up a tournament with over 300 players who would battle it out for the coveted title and the winner’s prize of £5000.

Picking a winner in a line-up like this is always going to be tough but former Masters Champion Phil Harrison would no doubt have been amongst many people’s favourites for the tournament and he did not disappoint. Harrison had been in fine form all week and was already through to the semi-final of the World Championships. For some that would have been enough, Harrison on the other hand was clearly hungry to add another title to his impressive collection as he notched up convincing wins over Ray Caruana, Steven Mitchell and Neil Wren. Fraser Allan of Scotland ran him close in the last 64, with Phil eventually running out a 7-5 winner.

A unique aspect of the Masters is the random draw that is in place until the last 32. The matches are called out from the top table as they are drawn and no doubt Chris Day would have been hoping for anyone other than Phil Harrison to be called out after he heard his name. Phil ended up a 7-3 winner facing his toughest match of the tournament so far, Shaun Chipperfield, in the last 16. Chipperfield was in fine form, still in the World Championships and having a great Masters having beaten twice World Champion Tom Cousins in the last 32. This match was a potential warm-up for the World Final as both players were in opposite halves and Harrison took no prisoners taking the match 8 frames to 4.

The quarter final provided a match against one of the England team’s most solid players, Ben Flack. With his 100% focus on every shot, Flack is not an easy opponent for any player but Harrison showed his hunger for another World Master’s title to add to the collection, beating Flack 8-4 and setting up a meeting in the semi-final with Cardiff’s Steve Martin. Martin had already played Harrison this season in the final of tour 2 at the Hilton Metropole in Birmingham. Harrison was unplayable on that occasion, running out an 8-1 winner with a relentless potting display. Martin would have been hoping to make amends for that defeat. Whilst he ran Phil close this time, it was Harrison who would again come out on top with a 9-6 victory.

On the bottom half of the draw, former UK Tour player Nick Bell was in fine form. Having had a tough route through to the quarters, despatching of players such as Dave Fernandez and Eddie Barker, the 2014 Challenge Event winner then found himself taking on 2015 tour winner, Steve Petty, a man very much fancied amongst the favourites to win this event. Bell ran out a convincing 8-4 winner. The semis saw him taking on 2014 World Finalist this year’s U23s World Champion Giuseppe D’Imperio. Again Bell showed his class against a clearly in form D’Imperio, taking the match 9-7.

The final looked certain to be a close contest with both players in fine form and the early part of the match proved to be so but with the match tied at 6-6 Harrison found the extra gear that he so often clicks in to and ran out the last 4 frames to take the match 10-6. Another fantastic result for one of the best and most respected players in the game.