And so the IPA Tour moved North of the Border for the 3rd leg of this years’ enthralling series, with the Erskine Bridge Hotel on the banks of the River Clyde on the outskirts of Glasgow being the setting. Players from across the globe, including a very strong home contingent, descended on the venue for the ultimate test of Blackball pool to challenge for the three titles on offer over the weekend.
Glasgow saw the first outing this season for 2013 Player of the Year Christophe Lambert, who headed up a strong group from across the Channel. Paul Bennett made the very long trip from South Africa, and the home Country were led by Mark Boyle and Scott Gillespie, leaving the usual suspects from the IPA ranks there to be shot at, including top stars Gareth Hibbott, Clint I’Anson and Simon Ward.
The action got underway on the Friday afternoon and the double elimination stages were fast and furious as we have come to expect. The toughest group on paper was the Blue group with Boyle, Jack Whelan and Drew Farminer all qualifying for the knockout stages, as well as the big guns from the other groups including the Scottish trio of Ross Fernie, Gillespie and Scott Ross, plus Southampton based duo Mick Warner and Ryan Longhurst.
The last 64 stages didn’t really produce any notable shocks, although Scotland’s Liam Dunster deposited Farminer 7-0 and Hibbott was pushed to a deciding frame by Tour newcomer Jonjo Sharkey. Into the last 32 and the matches were staring to hot up – Ross Fernie’s fine run came to an end at the hands of hot shot Jordan Shepherd and Mark Chung found some form to defeat James Croxton 7-1.
IPA Hall of Famer Jason Twist was the next victim to the unrelenting potting power of Hibbott in the Last 16, and the charge from Ross and Shepherd finally came to an end in the Quarter Finals, which resulted in a semi final line up of Hibbott v Andy Macdonald and Ronan McCarthy v I’Anson – a repeat of the Pro final 4 weeks previously at Bradford. On this occasion it was McCarthy who exacted revenge, and would take his place in the final against Hibbott.
For McCarthy, it must have felt like deja vu as the combination of Hibbott’s excellent play and his own lack of luck meant he was up against it from the start, with a huge ‘kick’ on the black in frame 3 proving costly. Despite this he fought bravely to keep in touch with his opponent to trail only 6-5, but Hibbott held his nerve to take the next 2 frames and the title of Compass Cars Scottish Open winner.
The action moved on to the Amateur event with the group stage format providing lots of top quality matches and plenty of opportunities for the players to showcase their skills.
Such is the strength of pool in Scotland we had the unprecedented situation of 7 of the 8 players in the Quarter finals being from the host Country, with Curtis Lee keeping the hopes of Wales alive in the competition.
Lee’s run through came to an end at the hands of Dawid Qadir, where he was joined in the semi finals with Ross, Steven Bennie and the impressive Fernie. Ross and Fernie both enjoyed comfortable victories against Bennie and Qadir respectively to set up a mouth-watering clash.
The final proved to be a superb encounter going to a final frame decider, and t was the cool head of Fernie who took full advantage of having the first opportunity in the frame to take out a classy finish under pressure to lift the title of Compass Cars Scottish Amateur Champion.
Last but not least, the Professional event featuring the games elite commenced with huge excitement with the seasonal debuts of Lambert and Lakeside World Championships two-time winner Paul Coldrick.
It wasn’t the best of starts for either player, both succumbing to Jason Rimington and Scott Higgins respectively in the first round. In the Last 16, the ever-improving Marc Pickworth enjoyed a fine win over I’Anson, Higgins put
McCarthy to the sword and Blackpool’s Lee Anderson enjoyed a fine deciding frame victory against Wales Ben Davies.
Pickworth was powerless against Hibbott in the quarters, with Higgins and Anderson joined by another Welsh star in Craig Marsh. Marsh had a routine victory against Higgins and Hibbott’s run saw no sign of abating as he edged a close encounter with Anderson 9-7.
And on to the final – both players showed signs of tension with the title so close, but Marsh could never quite get close enough to Hibbott and couldn’t prevent him doing the ‘double’ – a feat not achieved in the new ‘era’ – a fantastic weekend for the current Tour and Professional Number 1.
The Tour now takes a summer break and will resume again in September in Nottingham, but in the meantime catch all the latest news on the website and the latest videos on the IPA YouTube channel.