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Mark King ends 25 year wait for first ranking title at Northern Ireland Open

Published 21/11/2016

Mark King held off Barry Hawkins in a thrilling final
Mark King held off Barry Hawkins in a thrilling final

Mark King claimed his first ranking title as a professional with a thrilling 9-8 victory over fellow Englishman Barry Hawkins at the Northern Ireland Open.

Hawkins raced into a 5-1 lead after breaks of 83 and 113 but King, who was playing his first ranking final since the 2004 Irish Masters, responded with frames of 48 and 42 to cut the deficit to two frames at the end of the first session.

King, who had never won a ranking title in 25 years as a professional, reeled off another four frames, including breaks of 62, 100 and 54, to lead 7-5. Hawkins, however, fought back to draw level with breaks of 73 and 76.

A stroke of luck saw King snatch the 15th frame and lead 8-7. The 42-year-old then forced a black ball re-spot in the 16th but missed the chance to seal the title, allowing Hawkins to force a decider.

However, the Romford potter made no mistake in the final frame to claim the Alex Higgins Trophy.

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