MIKE Finn reckons his new cue is well and truly broken in after pocketing £200 prize money for winning the first leg of the Cuestars South of England Championship Tour.
Southampton’s seven-time Town Champion leads the race for the Q School place following a 3-2 victory over Aldershot hotshot Ryan Mears in the final at Jesters Snooker Club, Swindon.
And the Mighty Finn knocked in the day’s highest break of 107 in his 3-1 last-eight success over Basingstoke-based Christian Chislett.
The 31-year-old from Eastleigh, who added an 83 against the home town’s Seb Worrall in a 3-1 semi-final victory, said: “It was great to get back to winning ways.”
Reflected on his new Phoenix cue, he added: “I bought a new cue a couple of months ago.
“It’s two inches longer and quite a lot heavier than anything I have used before so it was nice to play well as I’ve been struggling to get used to it.”
Finn was 2-1 down in the final but helped himself to a 64 following a bad break-off from Mears in the fourth and then secured a close decider. The whole match took under an hour.
The 40-strong field for the Absolute Snooker-sponsored event was the largest since the Q School place was introduced for the rankings winner at the beginning of the 2016/17 campaign.
Earlier, Finn actually lost 2-0 to Mears in the round-robin group stages. He then overcame two-time champion Matt Ford (Bracknell) 3-0 in the last-16.
Mears beat former English Under-18 Champion Mark Lloyd in a marathon second semi that lasted more than two-and-a-half hours.
The decider took nearly an hour as seven reds and the black were right over a pocket. Lloyd eventually fouled and Mears wrapped up a 3-2 victory.
The highly-rated Derek Murphy (Bristol) made the last-eight on his Cuestars debut, losing 3-2 to Worrall who won the corresponding tournament last year.
An impressive total of 34 breaks of 50 or more were recorded. Chislett recorded the day’s other century of 106.
Last season, Finn’s Churchills teammate Billy Castle won the Championship Tour, qualified through Q School and is now a professional snooker player.
The second leg of eight is at Chandler’s Ford Snooker Club on Sunday, October 15.
Absolute Snooker is a national independent company specialising in table recovering and maintenance. The Swansea-based firm also offers a wide range of cues, cases and accessories for snooker, pool and billiards. For more information, go to www.absolutesnooker.com.
Mike Finn: 107, 83, 71, 69, 69, 64, 55, 50.
Christian Chislett: 106, 71, 57.
Ryan Mears: 73, 62, 52, 52, 50.
Ben Tanner: 72, 69.
Callum Lloyd: 70, 68.
Paul Bunyard: 70, 66, 58.
Matt Ford: 65.
Mark Lloyd: 62, 59, 53, 53, 51.
Connor Benzey: 57.
Seb Worrall: 54.
Grant Mason: 53.
Anthony Rice: 52, 52.
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP POSITIONS
GROUP A: 1st, Mickey Joyce (Chandler’s Ford SC); 2nd, Derek Murphy (Fishponds Cons, Bristol); 3rd, Mike Trigg (Chandlers Ford SC); 4th, Aidan Murphy (Fishponds Cons, Bristol); 5th, Ray Mears (Sovereign, Farnborough).
GROUP B: 1st, Ben Tanner (Umbrella, Cheltenham); 2nd, Daniel Hall (Jesters, Swindon); 3rd, Stewart Crosswell (Churchills, Eastleigh); 4th, Lewys Smith (Wexa Sports, Newport); 5th, Ronnie Sullivan (Frames, Coulsdon).
GROUP C: 1st, Ryan Mears (Sovereign, Farnborough); 2nd, Mike Finn (Churchills, Eastleigh); 3rd, Andrew Seymour (Crucible, Newbury); 4th, Billy Ginn (SWSA, Gloucester); 5th, Craig Marsh (Crucible, Newbury).
GROUP D: 1st, Jake Stewart (147, Swindon); 2nd, Jake Baker (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 3rd, Dan Sykes (Chandlers Ford SC); 4th, James Cullen (Woking SC); 5th, Peter Chin (Jesters, Swindon).
GROUP E: 1st, Christian Chislett (Selsey RBL, Chichester); 2nd, Wayne Townsend (Hayes WMC); 3rd, Connor Benzey (Chandlers Ford SC); 4th, Grant Mason (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 5th, Adam Nash (Churchills, Eastleigh).
GROUP F: 1st, Matt Ford (Sunninghill Comrades Club); 2nd, Callum Lloyd (Redz, Cwmbran); 3rd, Ronnie Blake (Frames, Coulsdon); 4th, Anthony Rice (Salisbury SC); 5th, Ally Pollard (Salisbury SC).
GROUP G: 1st, Seb Worrall (Jesters, Swindon); 2nd, Lewis Miles (Jesters, Swindon); 3rd, Steven Hughes (Chandlers Ford SC); 4th, James Budd (Fareham SC); 5th, Andrew Darken (Chertsey SSRN Club).
GROUP H: 1st, Paul Bunyard (Woking SC); 2nd, Mark Lloyd (Stoke SC, Gosport); 3rd, Ryan Hughes (Chandlers Ford SC); 4th, Oliver Sykes (Chandlers Ford SC); 5th, Riley Ellis (147, Swindon).
LAST-16 (20 points): M Lloyd 3-0 Joyce, Miles 3-0 Tanner, Ryan Mears 3-1 C Lloyd, Townsend 3-0 Stewart, Chislett 3-1 D Sykes, Finn 3-0 Ford, Worrall 3-1 Hall, D Murphy 3-1 Bunyard.
QUARTER-FINALS (24 points): M Lloyd 3-1 Miles, Ryan Mears 3-1 Townsend, Finn 3-1 Chislett, Worrall 3-2 D Murphy.
SEMI-FINALS (£50, 30 points): Ryan Mears 3-2 M Lloyd, Finn 3-1 Worrall.
FINAL (£200/£100, 50/36 points): Finn 3-2 Ryan Mears.
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Tim Dunkley (World Snooker coach)
Picture by Ray Mears: Mike Finn (left) and Ryan Mears.