Superb Stephen Maguire claims Tour Championship crown
Stephen Maguire claimed his first ranking title in seven years after beating good friend Mark Allen 10-6 in the Tour Championship final on Friday.
The Scotsman won seven of the last nine frames from 4-3 down at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes to scoop the top prize of £150,000.
A wildcard for this tournament following the withdrawal of Ding Junhui, Maguire also pocketed the £100,000 bonus for pipping Judd Trump to top spot in the Coral Cup series, as well as an additional £10,000 for compiling the highest break of the event courtesy of a magnificent 139 total clearance in the ninth frame.
That made it the biggest payday of the 39-year-old’s career, as well as landing him a sixth ranking title and first since he donned the Welsh Open crown in 2013.
Maguire had lost in five of his last six ranking finals – including this season’s UK Championship showpiece – and four of his six previous meetings with Allen.
But despite falling 2-0 behind as Allen opened with runs of 50 and 76, the Scotsman hit back with 89 to halve deficit before a nerveless clearance of 69 from 50-6 down in frame four levelled the contest.
He completed the turnaround after the mid-session interval, but the Pistol came back firing with a magnificent break of 125 on the way to taking the next two frames.
Maguire, who beat Neil Robertson and Judd Trump to reach the showpiece, took the final frame of the session before flying out of the blocks in the evening with a stunning 139 total clearance – his eighth century of the week – on the way to a 6-4 lead.
It looked like it was going to be 7-4 until he knocked in a red when cannoning into the cluster from the blue; allowing Allen to ruthlessly pounce with a run of 64 to halve the deficit.
Nevertheless, Maguire responded with runs of 78 and 53 as he reeled off the next three frames to move to within one of victory.
Despite a resounding 9-2 rout of Mark Selby the previous day – in which he won the opening four frames in just 40 minutes – Allen had struggled to reach those levels 24 hours on.
Nevertheless, the Pistol, who has climbed to a career high of fourth in the world rankings, fired back with a wonderful break of 107 to keep his hopes alive.
But it was to be a false dawn for the former Masters champion as Maguire took a scrappy 16th frame on the black to scrape over the line.
“I’ve managed to fluke my way to the title!” joked the Scotsman, who climbs to ninth in the rankings ahead of the World Championship next month.
“Over the last couple of years, I’ve accepted that I may never win a tournament again and it’s eased my expectations.
“I’m not going to get carried away because it’s just one trophy, but it’s a great feeling.
“I’ve had a great season and this tops it off. I’m excited about Sheffield now because I can’t have any more confidence going there. I’m looking forward to it.”
Allen admitted: “I made too many mistakes today. You can’t afford to do that in any final, let alone against Stephen when he’s playing so well.
“I feel like I missed the boat by not being ahead after the first session. I just didn’t play my best all day.”