JORDAN BROWN created one of the greatest shocks in sporting history last night by beating Ronnie O’Sullivan to claim a first major title.
The 33-year-old from Northern Ireland, ranked No81 in the world, came into the Welsh Open as a 750-1 rank outsider to lift the Ray Reardon Trophy.
In the opposite chair was the Rocket, the reigning and six-time world champion who was himself attempting to equal John Higgins’ record of five successes in this event.
But somehow in the biggest match of his life Brown showed nerves of steel and took advantage of O’Sullivan’s many mistakes for a sensational result at Celtic Manor.
The Antrim pro, who almost fell off tour for the second time last summer and was working in a petrol station just three years ago, just got over the line in a decider for a 9-8 victory.
And he became not only the longest-priced tournament winner ever, but also the lowest ranked winner for 28 years since Dave Harold won the Asian Open after starting at odds of 500-1.
Brown is known as the ‘Antrim Ferrari’ at his home club where Mark Allen has been his longtime practice partner.
And the win was especially sweet as Brown was one of those taking offence at O’Sullivan’s derogatory comments about lower ranked players made last summer.
Brown needed a good start, and by claiming a scrappy first frame taking advantage of several errors from O’Sullivan he settled some nerves in the biggest match of his life.
Surprisingly the Rocket’s edginess continued in the next, and a break of 58 was enough to double the Antrim pro’s lead.
The world champion finally got going with a run of 74, but fine breaks of 78 and then 107 from Brown gave him a scarcely believable 4-1 advantage.
That sting O’Sullivan into back to back century breaks of 135 and 121, but Brown took a huge eighth frame, the last of the afternoon session, to take a lead into the evening.
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Brown blew a great chance to go 6-3 up and when his illustrious opponent reeled off three frames in a row it looked as if the game might be up.
But the Northern Irishman has shown huge reserves of guts and character all week, and rallied yet again to lead 7-6 before O’Sullivan stopped the rot to make it a best-of-three shootout.
However Brown held his nerve and clinched a famous victory.
Brown said: “I am almost speechless. To be in the company of Alex Higgins, Dennis Taylor and Mark Allen from Northern Ireland to win a ranking title is amazing.
“And it is an absolute honour to play Ronnie in a final, he is the greatest of all time and it is a privilege to be here.
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“I always believed in myself even in the darker days working in the petrol station, but those can make you stronger as a player and a person. And I decided to give it another real go.”
O’Sullivan said: “I have really enjoyed it out there tonight, every minute. Jordan is a great guy and I am very happy for him to win. If that fluked red had won it for me I would have felt bad.
“He is a fantastic player because you don’t beat Selby and Maguire if you aren’t, and I played all right today.”