The Gould-en smile

Michael Holt against Mark Williams in the quarter final
Michael Holt against Mark Williams in the quarter final
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Martin Gould emerged triumphant in the 2013 Betfair Snooker Shoot Out, blowing away Mark Allen 104-0 in last night’s final at the Circus Arena.

The world no.19 saw off his much-fancied Northern Irish opponent with fluent breaks of 46 and 58 to clinch the high-speed one-frame knockout tournament in front of a packed Blackpool crowd.

Gould was in imperious form all weekend, seeing off Rory McLeod, Mark Joyce, inaugural winner Nigel Bond and Andrew Higginson to reach the final four.

The Londoner then edged out Michael Holt in the semi-finals, while Allen defeated world no.6 Stephen Maguire.

Allen had the first opportunity to score in the final but missed a long red to put Gould in among the balls.

The underdog showed great composure under pressure, streaking away to claim the £32,000 winner’s cheque.

Lifting the trophy, Gould said it felt “fantastic” to win the unique up-against-the-clock tournament, in which matches last a maximum of 10 minutes. Players had less time to play each shot that in previous years – 15 seconds in the first five minutes and 10 in the second five.

Gould said: “It has meant a lot to me this one. For some reason, the format really suits me and the crowd have been amazing. I couldn’t have asked for more.”

The Blackpool crowd were treated to some fantastic snooker on the last of the three days, in which the last 16 played down to a finish over two sessions.

Double world champion Mark Williams looked in great touch before being dumped out by Holt in the quarter-finals, while Maguire and Allen also showed fine form.

Former winners Bond and Barry Hawkins both reached the latter stages again, last year’s champion Hawkins losing to Maguire in the quarter-finals.

The Sky-televised tournament has proved a crowd favourite and a successful addition to the circuit.

Players were again full of praise for the intimate Circus Arena – a World Championship venue in years gone by – with world no.1 Mark Selby among those giving it the thumbs up. Selby, who had won the Masters in London the previous weekend, compiled the highest break of the weekend, a superb 125 clearance against 1997 world champion Ken Doherty in the first round.

Selby described the venue as “great fun”, adding: “It’s always great here, especially with the crowd, although sometimes they make it harder with all the banter.”

The event has also proved popular with less well-known players, who relished the opportunity to compete in a live televised tournament.

Robbie Williams, the lowest-ranked player at the Shoot Out, lost to another rising star Jack Lisowski in round two and said: “This is a unique event and gives us some exposure on the TV. I was a bit nervous at first but felt better as it went on.”

Fans defied the wintry weather to flock to the event, with most sessions sold out.

Michael Webb, 34, travelled from North Lanarkshire in Scotland. He said: “This is my second year here and I love it, especially because you can have a drink and even chat to the players if you are lucky.

“It must bring a lot of people to Blackpool and it’s nice that it’s not all about the top 16.

“It’s a great event, though I wasn’t happy John Higgins went out in the first round,”

Mary Bell, 56, from Birmingham, enjoyed the tournament with her daughter and grandson.

She said: “We’ve had a lovely time. It’s a great event and an obvious hit with the fans.

“It’s not the snooker I’m used to but it’s been a good laugh.

“The crowd got a bit loud at times but my grandson loved it. He got autographs from all the players.”