Mark Davis came agonisingly close to winning an invitation tournament involving many of snooker’s top players.
The St Leonards potter was edged out 3-2 by Stuart Bingham in the final of the Championship League winners’ group on Thursday evening having led 2-1.
World number eight Bingham took the opening frame with a break of 72 only for 18th-ranked Davis to clinch the next two for the loss of just 17 points aided by two 40+ efforts. Davis scored just two points thereafter, though, as Bingham rattled through the remaining two frames with runs of 126 and 79 to clinch the title.
The Championship League winners’ group brought together the winners of the seven qualifying groups at Crondon Park Golf Club in Essex. They initially faced each other in a round-robin format with the top four advancing to contest the semi-finals.
Group five winner Davis came second in the round-robin phase after winning four of his six matches. He won two of his three games on Wednesday, recovering from losing 3-1 to Ben Woollaston (in which Davis fashioned a top break of 63) to beat Bingham 3-1 (breaks of 103, 59 and 67) and Xiao Guodong 3-0 (breaks of 82 and 75).
Davis also won two of his remaining three round-robin matches on Thursday, defeating Matthew Selt 3-1 (breaks of 59, 80 and 79) and Ali Carter 3-2 (breaks of 52 and 58) either side of a 3-0 loss to Barry Hawkins.
The 42-year-old faced Woollaston in the semi-finals and his hopes looked to be fading as Woollaston led 2-0 with a top break of 85. But a run of 57 in frame three kept Davis alive and an 80 at the start of the next made it 2-2 before Davis took the decider 58-25.
Bingham came out on top in the final, though, to earn a place in the prestigious Champion of Champions tournament next season. Davis had the consolation of earning an accumulated cash total of £24,650 for his efforts.
The Championship League Snooker event is a venture between Matchroom Sport and Perform where 25 of the game’s elite players compete in best-of-five-frames matches, all of which are broadcast on a host of betting websites.
Former six-reds world champion Davis continued his fine form with two more victories this weekend.
He firstly saw off Elliot Slessor 4-0 in the Indian Open Qualifiers on Friday night with a top break of 57 before eventually getting past Mitchell Mann 5-3 in the China Open Qualifiers last night (Saturday).
Davis looked to be cruising to victory as he opened up a 4-0 lead with breaks of 76, 68 and 56, but Mann hit back by winning the next three thanks to runs of 59, 72 and 53. Davis eventually got over the line by winning a long eighth frame.
The hectic period for Davis will continue with a first round tie against Lu Chenwei at the Welsh Open tomorrow afternoon.
Bexhill-based Jimmy Robertson, meanwhile, recorded mixed results in his two qualifying matches.
The world number 45 lost 4-0 to Thanawat Thirapongpaiboon in the Indian Open Qualifiers before beating Steven Hallworth 5-3 in the China Open Qualifiers. Robertson won four frames in a row with a top break of 120 to lead 4-1 and although Hallworth won the next two, Robertson sealed victory by winning frame eight.
Robertson will face Brazilian cueman Igor Figueiredo in round one of the Welsh Open on Tuesday afternoon.