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Locomotive Powers To Second Win Of The Season

Phil Burford

The two finalists in the British Grand Prix had both contested finals earlier in the season – Phil Burford who won the season's opening event in thrilling fashion against Ralf Souquet, and Mark Gray who was runner up in the Northern Masters to the now two-time Mosconi Cup player Karl Boyes. Burford began his campaign against local competition; Kevin Uzzell putting up a brave fight before succumbing 9-5 to the Locomotive. This put Burford one win away from the single-elimination last 32 stage, but a resilient Ian McCormick stood in his way. Another tour battle followed, but Burford saw past the Ulsterman 9-7 to go through the winners’ side undefeated. Burford turned on the juice for his next match against Finlay Laing, whitewashing the Newmarket potter 9-0. However, Burford's first victim, Kevin Uzzell, wasn't done just yet. Having negotiated his way out of the one-loss side of the draw, he returned to face his nemesis once again. The only difference this time was one rack, with Burford securing his second victory over Uzzell 9-6 to set up a match with Tommy Donlon next.
Donlon had made his best run of the season to make his way into the quarter finals, but a 9-3 defeat ended his campaign and saw Burford into his second semi-final of the season. Here he faced Tony Drago, fresh off his first round defeat in the UK Championship snooker in York. Whilst faring much better on the American table, his competition was to come to an end at Phil's hand with a 9-7 win seeing Burford through to the final showdown.
Mark Gray started in emphatic fashion in his quest for a first title of the season. His first victim was Simon Gardner who suffered a heavy 9-1 defeat at Gray's hand. Gray then came up against the ponytailed Italian Bruno Muratore, the prize for the winner being. Place in the last 32. A closer match ensued with Gray running out the 9-5 winner. In the last 32, Gray faced young gun Sam Hirst. The student from Leeds suffered a similar fate to Gray's first opponent, with Hirst eliminated by 9 racks to 2. This sent Gray into a last 16 match with another Yorkshireman in the form of Barnsley's Elliott Sanderson. Sanderson's excellent run in the competition came to an end here, as Gray progressed to the quarter finals with a 9-4 win. A fellow tour stalwart in the form of Colchester's Shaun Storry was awaiting him in the last 8, but once again Gray came away victorious by 9 racks to 5 and in doing so reached his fourth consecutive GB9 semi-final. Standing in Gray's way of his second final was another tour stalwart, this time around Stewart Colclough. The score line from his previous game was matched here as Gray made it into his third British Grand Prix final with another 9-5 victory, leaving him just one win away from regaining the title he won back in GB9's inaugural season all the way back in 2008.
The final promised to be yet another classic battle with both players in their second finals of the year. It was Burford who squeaked home with an 11-9 winning score which saw him end the season as the British #3, just behind both Karl Boyes and Mark Gray who end this season with the guaranteed expenses paid berths in the European 9-Ball Championship in April 2014. 

2011 Event 5 – GB9 British Grand Prix

9-ball players from across the length and breadth of Great Britain will descend on Daventry in Northamptonshire for the last time this season as the 2011 edition of the GB 9 Ball Tour reaches its climax with the prestigious British Grand Prix.

This season feels as though it has come and gone in a flash and few players would argue otherwise. That said, this has been perhaps the most action-packed and wide open GB9 season since its inception back in 2008. As the fourth season of this increasingly fascinating and difficult tour comes to its conclusion, we’ll look back here on some of the most memorable moments from the past 8 months.

This season’s Midlands Classic was one where one of Great Britain’s brightest young prospects put his mark on the world of 9-ball pool. On the verge of a move over to the USA, Darlington’s Phil Burford took up a coveted reserve spot in the competition and subsequently swept all who stood in his path. He took out two of Britain’s best players – former British #1 Mark Gray and reigning #1 Imran Majid – on his route to the final, and saw off the challenge of Craig Osborne in the final to take a GB9 title over to the States with him. Jayson Shaw stormed to victory in the first Pro Cup of 2011 and Damian Massey was the Challenge Cup’s victorious counterpart with both players laying down markers of the quality they could show in the season.

Emotions were high as ever in the season’s second tournament, the 3rd annual Paul Medati Trophy. Guest referee Michaela Tabb and US Open champion Darren Appleton were the star attractions, and the latter came away with yet another title to add to his CV with victory in June’s Pro Cup. Another one of Britain’s hottest young stars in Mat Lawrenson ran away with the Challenge Cup, defeating in the final yet another player from the crop of young talent in the form of Mark Lunn. 2011 China Open champion Chris Melling was fresh back from the orient and in the form of his life, and it was this form which took him to his second GB9 main event title in the space of three events. This was also, once again, GB9’s annual event supporting Macmillan Cancer Support, and Phil Morgan’s sponsored row prior to the event was the tremendous highlight to a fundraising drive which saw over well over £2,000 raised for the charity.

The Northern Masters was next up in the calendar, and most of Britain’s premier cueists came to this event this time off the back of the 2011 World Championship held in Qatar. Whilst the atmosphere in GB9 often feels like it matches the heat out in the middle east, it was Craig Osborne who avenged his runner-up spot from March taking victory this time round in the main event. Tony Drago took a break out from the newly rejuvenated World Snooker calendar to enter into this tournament weekend, and his frighteningly quick playing style saw him walk away with the Pro Cup title. Even more of the best young talent that British 9-ball has to offer came to the summit of the Challenge Cup, with Colchester’s Shaun Storry taking his first competitive 9-ball title.

Not even four weeks after the Northern Masters came to a close, the Southern Masters title was up for grabs in another fiercely contested weekend. A relative newcomer to the sport of 9-ball in the shape of Eric Dockerty came into each match more confident than ever as the weekend went on, and that confidence peaked on the Saturday evening when he took his maiden GB9 Challenge Cup title. Daryl Peach ended his 10 month long GB9 drought in picking up the Pro Cup title back in September. As for the main event itself, Kevin Uzzell was somewhat of an outsider coming into the weekend. However, his preparation for the event was second to none and this showed with him claiming his first GB9 title – a stalwart of the tour earning a just reward.

|8975|Now, with the 2011 schedule coming to a close, the British Grand Prix will see the finest players in the country battle it out for the title, all aiming for the ranking points to challenge Imran Majid’s coveted status as British #1.

GB9 will also be introducing electronic laptop scoring systems for this event in readiness for the 2012 season – more information on this will be available throughout the competition to players and spectators on request. Fans of the tour and the sport across the world can now follow every single match on tour in real time through, bringing them closer to the action than ever before.

Spectator entry is free as ever, and play begins with the Challenge Cup opening round at 5pm on Friday 18th November, with play concluding with the British Grand Prix Final on Sunday evening. Don’t miss out on what will doubtless be yet another breathtaking display of 9-ball pool.