Back in March…
Stephen Maguire’s name wasn’t even on the qualifications list for the Coral Tour Championship.
But since the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, one of the qualifiers Ding Junhui decided to withdraw from the event on safety grounds.
The next name on the list was Stephen Maguire.
And what a week for the 39-year-old it’s turned out to be.
He started the week without any real expectation as he hadn’t played he said properly for three months, and then, knocked in six tons, a record in a best of 17.
He said that was a one-off fluke.
Within three days, that record was matched by Shaun Murphy.
And now, the Scot finds himself in the final after having battled hard against the current World Champion and World no 1 Judd Trump, who was vying for a seventh ranking title in Milton Keynes.
Maguire told ITV after: “I’m over the over the moon.”
He added: “It wasn”t that pretty to watch or play but it’s a fight out there sometimes.”
It was a grind early on as they went into the evening session 4 – 4 and the evening session went much like the first with nip and tuck snooker.
Both men weren’t at their best but at the final mid-session interval, Maguire upped his game and won the last three frames from 6 – 6 to book his place in line to win 250K in the final.
That would be Maguire’s biggest payday since winning a ranking major in 2004 where he pocketed 70K.
Maguire earlier won the World Six Reds and bagged 105K in the 2019 edition. He stands to win 150K in the TC, and, on top, 100K bonus for the Coral Cup.
Judd Trump, 30, was kicking himself after, and, clearly disappointed, he lashed out over the playing conditions.
He added: “It’s too hot to play snooker.”
“I struggled the whole tournament really. The conditions were poor, that’s why the standard was so bad.”
During the break, seven times World Champion Stephen Hendry pulled no punches about the standard in the match, considering previous matches had seen record tons.
He said: “It was just awful.”
The other semi-final between Mark Allen, who knocked out Shaun Murphy, who made six tons and still lost, will play Mark Selby.