2015 world champion Stuart Bingham put the disappointment of his Masters exit behind him to dominate the eight-man Group C on the fourth day of the new WST Pro Series ranking event in Milton Keynes.
Bingham suffered an agonising semi-final 6-5 defeat to winner Yan Bingtao in his defence of the Masters title last weekend, but was back to his heavy-scoring best on Thursday with an unblemished 100 percent win record.
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"Coming off the Masters semi-final, it was hard to take, but my game is in good shape from it and hopefully that can continue for the rest of the season," said Bingham.
"It did hurt. I watched about two or three frames of the final. You either win or you learn. Hopefully, I'll learn from it and can go deep in a few more tournaments this year."
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Bingham is aiming for a strong second half of the campaign to ensure he qualifies for the World Championship as a top-16 seed at the Crucible in April, and certainly seems to be at his peak level of form.
The world number 12 dubbed 'Ball-run' did not drop a frame in all seven matches with 2-0 wins over amateur Jamie Curtis-Barrett, Billy Joe Castle, Ashley Carty, Jamie Clarke, Chris Wakelin, Sam Craigie and Scott Donaldson respectively seeing him top the section on 21 points with an unblemished frame difference of 14-0.
Tyneside potter Craigie potted 14 reds and 14 blacks before breaking down on 112 in his opening 2-0 triumph over Carty on his way to qualifying behind Bingham with five wins and two defeats.
Bingham continued the heavy-scoring theme with back-to-back centuries of 134 and 124 in a 2-0 victory over Clarke amid several plus-50 efforts.
London's Martin O'Donnell topped Group G on Wednesday.
The world number 49 sealed his place in the last 32 with a 2-0 win over Rory McLeod in his final group game as UK Championship semi-finalist Lu Ning joined him by edging out world number 20 Gary Wilson, who made the third 147 of his career in a 2-1 defeat to Liam Highfield.
Kyren Wilson and Sunny Akani progressed from Group B on Tuesday and also return for the last 32 when four more groups of eight are contested to decide who reaches the final group stage.
Joe Perry and Xiao Guodong were first to book their places in the second group phase by finishing in the top two places in Group M on Monday.
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This will be the first edition of the WST Pro Series, which has arrived on the snooker scene for 2021.
The legendary Stephen Hendry was set to make his eagerly-anticipated comeback, but withdrew on Friday January 15 and was replaced by John Astley. Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump and Mark Selby are also in the draw.
The WST Pro Series will offer up total prize money of £420,500 and will take place at Arena MK in Milton Keynes.
What is the format?
The players have been split into 16 groups of eight for the initial round-robin phase. All matches are best-of-three frames, and the top two in each group will progress to the second group stage.
The second phase will feature 32 players split into four groups of eight, and the top two in each group will then progress.
The player who finishes top of the final group of eight players will be crowned the champion of the inaugural edition of the event.
- January 18-25: Groups 1-8
- March 9-16: Groups 9-16
- March 17-20: Second group stage
- March 21: Final group
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