CONNOR Benzey’s late decision to enter the ninth leg of the Cuestars Under-21 Gold Tour at Salisbury Snooker Club paid dividends.
The 17-year-old from Eastleigh pocketed £100 towards more driving lessons after beating Bradley Cowdroy 2-0 in the final of the event sponsored by TopCue.
And he is now back in contention to win the rankings title.
The previous day, Benzey lost 4-0 to Andy Symons (Tavistock, Devon), the eventual tournament winner, in the last-16 of the West of England Billiards & Snooker Foundation’s Gold Masters in Weston-super-Mare.
Plans for a day off were shelved, though, in a late-night decision.
He said: “I wasn’t going to come today until half eleven last night but I needed the money for driving lessons. That was the incentive to come.”
Reflecting on the final, he added: “Bradley’s a tough match player. I’ve just got to match him with safety and take my chances.”
It was actually a long weekend for both finalists.
Cowdroy (Bournemouth) was beaten 3-0 by Alex Clenshaw (Harlow) in the final of an under-18 event run by snookerfans.co.uk in Dunstable the previous evening.
Group-stage casualty Oliver Sykes (Chandler’s Ford) takes a four-point lead over Cowdroy into the final event. Benzey is eight points further back in third.
Londoner Ronnie Sullivan overcame Cowdroy 2-0 in his first match and finished the group stages unbeaten before going out 2-0 to Benzey in the last-four.
In the second semi, Callum Browne (Trowbridge), who won the British universities and colleges individual championship in Derby last month, made his first Cuestars appearance of the season and lost 2-1 to Cowdroy in what can only be described as an epic.
Chandlers Ford SC hosts the tenth and final leg on Sunday, May 5.
Visit snooker products supplier TopCue on the Downton Industrial Estate or at www.topcue.co.uk.
Oliver Sykes: 77, 50.
Jamie Wilson: 54.
Callum Browne: 51, 47.
Connor Benzey: 50.
Bradley Cowdroy: 43.
Steven Hughes: 40.
Ronnie Sullivan: 40.
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP A: 1st, Callum Browne (Player’s, Westbury); 2nd, Connor Benzey (Chandlers Ford SC); 3rd, Jamie Wilson (Waterlooville Sports Bar); 4th, Oliver Sykes (Chandlers Ford SC); 5th, Dan Sykes (Chandlers Ford SC).
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP B: 1st, Ronnie Sullivan (Frames, Coulsdon); 2nd, Bradley Cowdroy (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 3rd, Ryan Hughes (Chandlers Ford SC); 4th, Steven Hughes (Chandlers Ford SC); 5th, Chloe White (Waterlooville Sports Bar).
SEMI-FINALS (15 points): Cowdroy 2-1 Browne, Benzey 2-0 Sullivan.
FINAL (£100/£25, 25/18 points): Benzey 2-0 Cowdroy.
Picture by Tim Dunkley
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Tim Dunkley (World Snooker coach)