Robert Milkins, who started the BetVictor Welsh Open as a 125/1 outsider, beat Shaun Murphy 9-7 in the final, a victory which earns him well over a quarter of a million pounds.
The destination of the £150,000 BetVictor Series bonus was on the line for Milkins, as well as a second ranking title, but he stood up to intense pressure with an admirable performance in the final in Llandudno, coming from 3-1 down to win eight of the last 12 frames.
The popular 46-year-old from Gloucester doubles his tally of ranking titles, having won his first at the BetVictor Gibraltar Open last season, 27 years after turning professional. He becomes the 40th player in snooker history to win multiple ranking titles.
The BetVictor Series covered eight events across the season, starting last July, with the leader of the Ranking List earning the bonus. Ali Carter was in pole position going into today’s final, but Milkins’ triumph sees him jump to the top of the list. He wins £80,000 for the title in North Wales, plus the £150,000 bonus, a place in the 2023 Champion of Champions and potentially a spot in next month’s Tour Championship and a top 16 Crucible seeding in April. All in all, his achievement today could be worth close to £280,000.
Robert Milkins – 2022/23 BetVictor Series
BetVictor Championship League – semi-final group stage: £5,000
BetVictor European Masters – last 16: £7,500
BetVictor Northern Ireland Open – last 16: £7,500
BetVictor Scottish Open – Last 32: £4,500
BetVictor English Open – Last 32: £4,500
BetVictor Shoot Out – Last 64: £500
BetVictor German Masters – Semi-finals: £17,500
BetVictor Welsh Open – champion: £80,000
It’s an astonishing turnaround for a player whose tour card was in doubt this time 12 months ago. His career sunk to a nadir at the Turkish Masters last March when his drunken behaviour at the opening ceremony landed him a heavy fine from WPBSA. With the help of counselling, he has turned his life and his form around, allowing his natural talent to flourish. Milkins celebrated in the arena tonight with children Charlie, Elisha and Mia, a moment he will remember forever.
He is up from 27th to 16th in the official rankings, and leaps to fourth on the one-year list, ahead of the Players Championship which starts in Wolverhampton on Monday.
Murphy misses out on a tenth ranking title, which would have brought him level with Jimmy White on the all time list and made him the 11th player ever to reach double figures. The 40-year-old has had a superb week, highlighted by a 147 during his match with Daniel Wells, but is still seeking a first title since the 2020 Welsh Open. The £35,000 runner-up prize moves world number 11 Murphy up to tenth on the one-year list.
After sharing the first session 4-4, Milkins took the first frame tonight with a break of 55, then Murphy levelled with a run of 70. Frame 11 came down to a respotted black and Murphy missed a tough pot to a baulk corner, handing his opponent the chance to roll the black into a centre pocket to regain the lead. And a run of 60 from Milkins in the next saw him go into the interval 7-5 ahead.
Murphy pulled one back with a break of 64, only for Milkins to make a 64 for 8-6. Back came Murphy with the highest break of the match, 114, and he had an early chance in frame 16 but made just 11 before a missed red. Milkins converted an excellent red to a centre and kept his composure in a tournament-winning 64.
“It won’t sink in for a couple of weeks. I can’t believe I have won the title and the bonus,” said Milkins, who turns 47 next month. “It was a struggle all day, I was fighting my emotions. I didn’t play the way I wanted to play, but in the end I played ok, I dug in and I’m really proud of myself. I made nice little 60 breaks in that evening session. I am chuffed to bits.
“My B game is pretty good when things aren’t going well. That’s the difference now compared to the player I was in the past. My safety helps me out a lot. Tactically I was a little bit better than Shaun and that was the only difference. He got in a few times and missed, he didn’t punish me as he usually does.
“This has opened a lot of doors for me, I have got a lot of snooker to play now. Just one week is life changing, it’s unreal. Gibraltar last year kicked it all off for me but this week is the biggest of my life on the table and I’ll probably never get another one like it.
“I have dedicated this to my friends Dean and Mandy. They are like family to me, they are God-parents to all my children. When I have had problems in the past, like being evicted, they have taken me in and always been there. They are very important people for me.”
Murphy said: “I didn’t have my best today, I made far too many unforced errors. Rob picked up the pieces. All credit to him, he was the best player and I wish him many congratulations. I couldn’t have tried any harder, but I could have played a bit better. I feel like I am going in the right direction. It has been a fabulous crowd all week, this is a very special place and I want to thank the fans for their support.”
Article by WST.