Back to Bendigo
Next week sees the start of this year’s Australian Goldfields Open from Bendigo, the fifth staging of the event following Neil Robertson’s World Championship success back in 2010.
What better time then to take a look back at the four editions of the tournament so far, which have seen a mixture of drama and popular winners?
The 2011 Australian Goldfields Open would be the event where Stuart Bingham would announce himself as a ranking event winner, following a remarkable 9-8 victory against two-time world champion Mark Williams.
Trailing 8-5, few would have fancied Bingham’s chances of success, but a strong finish saw him over the line to claim the title.
No doubt inspired by comments from quarter-final opponent Mark Allen, something that he again referenced this year at the Crucible following his world title success, Bingham has since gone on to establish himself as one of the world’s best players, but it was in Australia where he gained the self-belief to do so.
Other notable performances came from 1997 world champion Ken Doherty, who reached his first big semi-final since the 2008 Masters, while Matt Selt defeated Scottish legends John Higgins and Stephen Hendry to reach his first ranking event quarter-final.
The following year was to see another first-time ranking event winner, as the experienced Barry Hawkins saw off 2002 world champion Peter Ebdon.
Unlike Bingham, he was to come through a comfortable 9-3 winner in what was his first final and would go on to reach his first Crucible final later in the season.
Elsewhere, Matt Selt was again able to make it to the quarter-finals, notably defeating defending champion Bingham at the last 32 stage before losing to Hawkins.
Mark Davis followed up his maiden ranking event semi-final a week earlier in Wuxi by repeating the feat in Bendigo with a run that included a last 16 victory against home favourite Neil Robertson, before he also lost to Barry Hawkins.
A semi-finalist a year earlier, Marco Fu was to claim his second ranking event title in 2013 with a 9-6 victory against Neil Robertson.
Having fallen in the early rounds during each of the previous years, Robertson looked well placed to win his home tournament for the first time, coming into the event as the newly crowned Wuxi Classic champion.
Marco though was to have other ideas and pulled clear after the first mid-session interval before clinching victory with a match high break of 102.
Like Mark Davis a year earlier, Robert Milkins was able to make it back to back ranking event semi-finals before losing 6-4 to the eventual champion, while Barry Hawkins saw his title defence come to an end with a 5-4 defeat to Tom Ford at the last 16 stage.
Last year saw Neil Robertson become the first player to make it through to the final of the Australian Goldfields Open on more than one occasion, but again he was to be denied a home victory, this time losing out to Judd Trump.
Making his first appearance in the event since 2011, Trump survived a close quarter-final with Ricky Walden, before then seeing off Xiao Guodong and Robertson to win his fourth career ranking event title.
Mark Davis would again perform well in Australia by defeating Dominic Dale, Shaun Murphy and 2011 champion Stuart Bingham to reach another semi-final before losing to Robertson, but defending champion Marco Fu elected not to enter the event.
This year’s event gets underway on Monday 29th June 2015, coverage available in the UK on British Eurosport throughout the week.