Ronnie O'Sullivan compiled his first century of the new campaign as the world champion made a stylish return to competitive action in Leicester.
O'Sullivan picked up from where he left off after equalling Stephen Hendry's haul of seven world titles with a 18-13 win over Judd Trump in early May.
The world No. 1 enjoyed breaks of 67, 65 and 65 in a 3-0 win against world No. 99 Farkh Ajaib at the Morningside Arena before making a 68 break in a 3-1 victory over fellow Essex man Alfie Burden, who responded with a fine 79 in the third frame.
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O'Sullivan only needed a draw against Alexander Ursenbacher in the final Group 1 match, but a 3-1 win saw him reach the last 32 on maximum points courtesy of 56, 58 and a closing 121, the 1,170th century of his 30-year career.
Ursenbacher rolled in a 105 break of his own in the second frame in finishing second in the section, but O'Sullivan progresses to the last-32 second group stage starting on Monday, July 25.
“I just enjoyed playing, it felt good to be out there hitting balls again I suppose," said 39-time ranking event winner O'Sullivan.
Even if I play rubbish, it doesn’t bother me, I can quickly get over it and move on to the things I enjoy.
O'Sullivan admits he had mixed emotions after claiming his seventh world title, 21 years after his first trophy success in Sheffield.
“I felt like my game was ok heading into Sheffield, it was enough to get the job done," he said. "The reaction was great, but also wasn’t great as I enjoy going under the radar these days.”
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Latest Championship League group winners
- Group 24: Robert Milkins (Eng)
- Group 13: Aaron Hill (Ire)
- Group 4: Zhao Xintong (Chn)
- Group 31: Anthony Hamilton (Eng)
- Group 6: Michael Judge (Ire)
- Group 26: Chris Wakelin (Eng)
- Group 10: Luca Brecel (Bel)
- Group 29: Lu Ning (Chn)
- Group 1: Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng)
- Group 27: Jamie Jones (Wal)
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