Shepherd Secures Group One Qualification

Jordan Shepherd

Jordan Shepherd became the first player to book a berth in the last 16 of the Apply Mortgages Ultimate Pool Masters after winning group one on the competition’s opening evening.

A five-times Shootout event champion, Shepherd made a statement to the field, bouncing back from a disappointing display at the recent Vinny Champions League Pool to qualify for the second phase of the £20,000 event later this year.

The tournament began with a bang as Shepherd renewed his decorated rivalry with former Supreme Series event winner Clint I’Anson in a blockbuster tie.

After claiming the opening frame but having watched his English opponent take the lead with the next two, Shepherd levelled it up with the competition’s first break and clearance in frame four.

Both cueists had opportunities in frame five, but the ‘Welsh Wizard’ conjured up an impressive double up into a top-corner pocket which allowed him to go back in front at 3-2. He then chalked up two of the next three frames for a 5-3 advantage as the match moved into the final ten minutes where the 15-second shot-clock came into operation.

Unperturbed by the time restrictions, Doncaster-based Shepherd produced two reverse clearances off his opponent’s dry breaks – each comfortably inside two minutes – to help extend his profit to 7-4.

With less than two-and-a-minutes left, a determined I’Anson rallied by crafting a reverse clearance followed by a break clearance – both in rapid fashion – to give himself the faintest of hopes, but with only 19 seconds left on the clock, as soon as Shepherd avoided the dreaded ‘golden duck’ off his break, the contest was effectively over.


Shepherd’s opponent in the group final was Plymouth’s Jez Graham, who overcame Steve Singh in the evening’s second semi-final.

Indian international Singh started the night with conviction, registering a break clearance and a reverse clearance in going 3-1 up. However – despite inadvertently potting a black mid-frame in the sixth – former world pairs finalist Graham was resilient, getting stronger as the encounter went on and eventually scoring a 7-5 victory.

Group favourite Shepherd opened the final with a break and clearance, but the experienced Graham threatened an upset by winning three of the next four frames – including a reverse clearance in the fifth. Shepherd followed suit, though, with a reverse dish of his own to square up at 3-3 going into the commercial break.

The pair continued to stick together as the score moved onto 4-4 with Graham’s break dish in frame eight, but Shepherd managed to eventually pull away in the closing stages, securing qualification with an 8-4 victory.

Speaking afterwards, a pleased Shepherd told FreeSports “I felt like I had everything under control. I was up for it and it was nice to have that competitiveness again. I knew I had a couple of tough games tonight – regardless of who got through. If I can play like that, it doesn’t bother me who I’m playing.”