Snooker: Ronnie O'Sullivan hits maximum 147 during exhibition at his Singapore academy

Ronnie O'Sullivan also owns the record for the fastest 147 at the 1997 World Championships. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Perfection is hard to achieve, especially in elite sport.

From the hole-in-one in golf, to the 12-strike perfect 300 game in bowling, to the nine-dart finish, there is sometimes a lively debate about which is the more difficult achievement.

However, there is no question that snooker's maximum 147 break belongs right up there, and on Sunday (June 12), more than 100 lucky fans got to watch one happen when seven-time world champion and world No. 1 Ronnie O'Sullivan pulled off the rare feat.

The 46-year-old was playing an exhibition match against women's world champion Nutcharut Wongharuthai at his Ronnie O'Sullivan Snooker Academy (Rossa) at The Grandstand when he needed just one visit to consecutively pot 15 red-black combinations and then the six coloured balls in eight minutes, sending the crowd into raptures.

The significance of making a maximum at his own academy was not lost on O'Sullivan, as he told The Straits Times: "Yeah, that was good. That's what everybody would love to see, a 147 live. I felt a little bit nervous because I wanted to make everybody happy... it was nice to be able to do that for the fans."

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Singapore pool player Sharik Sayed was buzzing after watching the perfect frame unfold just metres away.

His own highest break is 81, and the 32-year-old said: "It was just amazing. Pool players can run out pretty easily nine or 10 balls on a nine-foot table. But it is definitely more difficult to pot 36 specific balls in sequence for a 147 on a 12-foot snooker table with smaller balls and pockets.

"It takes superb cue ball control to always get on the black. Many pros can do it, but nobody does it with the same fluency and speed as Ronnie. He makes it look so simple to the point that you think you can do it until you get to the table. It's a different level of mastery.

"This special moment is definitely an inspiration for me to practise harder to be better at my game."

Since Steve Davis made the first official 147 break against John Spencer at the 1982 Lada Classic, only 176 maximums have been recorded and ratified by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. Unsurprisingly, O'Sullivan, widely regarded as the best player ever, has the most with 15.

The Englishman also owns the record for the fastest 147, when he took just 5min 8sec to mop up the table against Mick Price at the 1997 World Championships.

The colourful champion could have had more, but at the 2016 Welsh Open, he deliberately finished with a 146 instead as a protest against the prize money allocated for the achievement.

He said then: "I knew it was £10,000 (S$17,000) and I just thought that's a bit too cheap, really. Certain things have value, and a 147 is a special moment. I want it to feel special all round."

O'Sullivan, whose last official maximum was compiled at the 2018 English Open, told ST: "I don't really go for 147s in tournaments because they got rid of the prize money for it, so there's no point going for them and I go for 147s only in exhibitions now."

Last month, the snooker savant had also made a maximum at an exhibition match in Wales.

And there was already a hint that O'Sullivan was in the mood for something special at Rossa's official launch on Saturday when he gave a quick tutorial to guest of honour Edwin Tong, the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law.

He told ST he felt a maximum was on after Mr Tong had made the break, but made a poor positional shot and had to go for the lower-scoring blue ball instead of the black.

On Sunday, he returned with a vengeance to deliver something truly unforgettable for the fans.

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