Three-time Masters champion Paul Hunter’s snooker career and legacy
Early career of Paul Hunter
The talented Leeds youngster burst onto the scene in July 1995 when he made his professional debut at just 16 years old. Paul made an instant impact as a pro when he reached the final four of the Regal Welsh Open a year later. He then went on and took a step further in 1998 and won the tournament which meant that he won his first world ranking title.
Tournaments Highlights of Paul Hunter
The Yorkshireman’s career went from strength to strength in the 21st century when he reclaimed the Regan Welsh title and won the British Open in 2002. A year later he defied the odds and reached the semi-finals of the World Championship where he narrowly lost 17-16 to Ken Doherty in one of the greatest Crucible matches. Paul also won The Masters an impressive three times in four years, with each score line ending 10-9 after coming from behind. The final Masters that Paul won in 2004 was against Ronnie O’Sullivan, known as “The Rocket”. The Scotsman has won five World Championships and has been ranked World’s Number One on several occasions.
Paul’s significant amount of success in major tournaments meant that his reputation was growing rapidly. He was nicknamed “The Beckham Baize” for his good looks and flamboyant style and was flying high in fourth place in the World Rankings. His highest tournament break was 146 in the 2004 Premier League. This prolific record led to him being called “The Man with the Golden Cue”.
Some of Hunter’s other notable wins was when he beat six-time World Champion Steve Davis in the early rounds of the 1998 Welsh Open, before defeating John Higgins in the final. Higgins has won 30 ranking titles which makes him one of the most successful players in the history of the sport.
Paul Hunter Legacy
Tragically, Paul was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in April 2005 and passed away in October 2006. He was awarded the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Helen Rollason award, which his widower Lindsey accepted on his behalf.
A Paul Hunter Foundation was set up in many social clubs across the UK and Ireland, such as The Menstone in Leeds. The idea was to give disadvantaged, able-bodied and disabled youngsters the opportunity to play snooker and follow in his footsteps. His cheerful, sportsmanlike approach to everything made him very popular among players, fans, the media, and match officials. An example of when he showed incredible sportsmanship was an incident at the 2005 China Open in Beijing.
Following his first-round game, Hunter was requested for a press conference but did not turn up. He was soon found in the arena where he was patiently signing autographs and having photos taken with Chinese fans and did not leave until every request was met just days after he was diagnosed with the disease.
We hope you enjoyed the article ‘Paul Hunter: Snooker Career and Legacy.’ What was your favourite memory of Paul Hunter? Let us know!
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