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McLeod reaches Wembley

Postby Roland ... tm?tid=147

"Rory McLeod booked a place at snooker's most prestigious invitation tournament by beating Andrew Higginson 6-1 in the final of the Masters qualifying event at Pontin's, Prestatyn.
The 38-year-old from Wellingborough, whose parents are Jamaican, will make his Masters debut at Wembley Arena in January against either Mark King or Mark Williams.

Last April, World No 39 McLeod became the first black player to compete at the Crucible, and he is now set to mark an equivalent milestone at Wembley.

He has won five matches this week, culminating in a comfortable victory over Widnes cueman Higginson, who seemed overcome by tension with so much at stake and managed a top break of just 29. Victory for McLeod gives him the first professional title of his 18-year career.

"It's been a long time coming. I've won loads of pro-am events but this one is more prestigious and it's great to be able to take home a trophy," said father-of-three McLeod, who coaches the Qatar national team. "I wanted to win this all week, I just had to keep calm. I've done the job now so I'm happy.

"The Masters is such a big tournament, I went to Wembley to see Paul Hunter win it in 2001 and it was a great atmosphere. Only the big boys play there and after the Crucible it's the next venue you want to get to."

Asked if he considers himself an inspiration to black people aiming to succeed in snooker, McLeod added; "I've shown that you can do whatever you want if you put your mind to it. There will be a lot of people watching me and hopefully they will give snooker a go."

Higginson won a scrappy opening frame on the final green then McLeod levelled in the 49-minute second by potting the blue after his opponent's attempted long-double failed. McLeod added the next two with a top run of 56 for a 3-1 interval lead.

In frame five he made an excellent 38 clearance to nick it on the black. Higginson should have won the next after potting a long brown, but missed the blue to a baulk corner and McLeod potted blue and pink to close in on victory at 5-1. He always looked on control of a fragmented seventh frame and sealed it with cracking pots on the last yellow and green.

The Masters runs from January 10 to 17 and will see Ronnie O'Sullivan trying to defend his title against the likes of John Higgins, Stephen Hendry and Neil Robertson."