Snooker: O'Sullivan refusal a tactical black mark

England's Ronnie O'Sullivan plays a shot during the Masters Snooker final last month. On Monday, the five-time world champion was on the brink of the 14th maximum break of his career, but opted against it because he said the £10,000 (S$20,200) prize
England's Ronnie O'Sullivan plays a shot during the Masters Snooker final last month. On Monday, the five-time world champion was on the brink of the 14th maximum break of his career, but opted against it because he said the £10,000 (S$20,200) prize on offer was not enough.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Criticism after snooker champ's decision not to pursue 'too cheap' 147 during Welsh Open

CARDIFF • Ronnie O'Sullivan deliberately rejected the chance to finish a 147 maximum break in his Welsh Open first-round match on Monday because the snooker star felt the £10,000 (S$20,200) prize on offer was "too cheap".

He was on course for the maximum milestone in the final frame of his 4-1 win over Barry Pinches at Cardiff's Motorpoint Arena after potting 13 reds and blacks.

But just as the five-time world champion looked set for the 14th maximum break of his career, he played a surprise positional shot onto the pink, to the disappointment of the crowd.

This despite having made several audacious shots earlier in the break to return to the black. He completed a 146 break and left the arena with a smile.

Later, he told BBC Wales: "I could have got on the black and possibly made a 147.

"I knew it was 10 grand and I just thought that's a bit too cheap really. To make a maxi, it's such a massive achievement and if they're going to pay us 10 grand, I think it's worth a bit more than that.

CHEAP SHOT

I could have got on the black and possibly made a 147. I knew it was 10 grand and I just thought that's a bit too cheap really.

RONNIE O'SULLIVAN, explaining why he rejected the chance to finish a 147 break in the first round of the Welsh Open.

"Once the prize goes up a bit, I'll go for the 147. A 146 is just as good!"

He still has a chance of taking the tournament's highest break prize of £2,000.

"Certain things have value, and a 147 is a special moment. I want it to feel special all round," added O'Sullivan, who won a record-equalling sixth Masters title in January.

"But the punters still got value for money today. Now they've got something more to look forward to. There's still room for improvement.

PLENTY OF OTHER OPTIONS

He should have made the 147 and given the money to charity - to cancer research or Crohn's disease...

ALI CARTER, the world No. 30, who has fought both cancer and Crohn's disease.

"You like to entertain your fans. It's like a film. You want them to come back and watch the next one.

"There is no point in giving them the best ending they've ever had. Leave room for a better ending next time."

But World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn disagreed and criticised the 40-year-old Englishman for not putting in maximum effort.

  • BIGGEST PAYOUTS FOR MAXIMUM BREAK

  • £169,000

    Ronnie O'Sullivan won this amount (now equivalent to S$343,540) for his 147 in a 6-10 2003 World Championship first-round loss to Marco Fu at the Crucible. It was his second maximum on the biggest stage.

  • £165,000 

    Six years earlier, O'Sullivan had won a similar sum for the same feat at the Crucible, this time in a 10-6 World Championship first-round win over Mick Price. It was the fastest maximum recorded to date at 5min 20sec.

  • £163,000

    Stephen Hendry signed off with a 147 at the Crucible in 2012, the year he retired, but his biggest cheque for it came 17 years earlier - also at the World Championship, in 1995 - for a maximum in a 16-12 semi-final win over Jimmy White.

  • MOST 147 BREAKS

  • 13: Ronnie O'Sullivan

    11: Stephen Hendry

    6: John Higgins

    5: Ding Junhui

    4: Marco Fu, Shaun Murphy

    THE TIMES, LONDON

"If £10,000 doesn't mean anything, then I'm sorry for him," he said. "Great entertainers entertain. It's what they were born to do. Money doesn't really come into it.

"Players have a duty to the fans to deliver the best standard and entertainment they can. Anything less than playing to their best ability is unacceptable and disrespectful.

"This is not a crime, but a shame."

World No. 30 Ali Carter, who has battled both cancer and Crohn's disease, also hit out at O'Sullivan.

"He should have helped someone out but he's only thinking of himself again," said Carter. "Unfortunately that's his problem, isn't it?

"He should have made the 147 and given the money to charity - to cancer research or Crohn's disease or something like that."

O'Sullivan once won £169,000 - the biggest payout for a maximum break - at the 2003 World Championship in Sheffield.

He refused to pot the final black in the final frame of his match at the 2010 World Open in Glasgow when he was told there was no bonus prize and had to be convinced to pot the final ball by the referee.

The prize for a 147 increases by £5,000 at each tournament.

Australia's Neil Robertson made the most recent maximum in December's UK Championship final, winning £44,000 including the £4,000 prize for the highest break.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 17, 2016, with the headline 'O'Sullivan refusal a tactical black mark'. Print Edition | Subscribe