||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2010)|
8 March 1972 |
|Nickname||The Baby-Faced Assassin, Fearless Fergal|
|Highest ranking||9 (2000/01)|
|36 (as of 18 November 2013)|
|Highest break||143 (Benson & Hedges Masters 2001|
His greatest achievement was winning the British Open in 1999, beating Anthony Hamilton 9–7 in the final. Hamilton opened with two centuries, but O'Brien won five frames on the final black to defeat the Nottingham man.
O'Brien also came close to winning the Masters title, losing the 2001 final to Paul Hunter after leading 7–3. He has reached one further ranking final, and three semi-finals
O'Brien peaked at #9 in the rankings following his sole title, but nosedived after this. He narrowly retained his top 16 place for the 2001/2002 season, but dropped out a year later – and then out of the top 32 a year later. Three further falls down the rankings left him at #45, before beginning to recover.
O'Brien also holds the honour of being the only player in history to hit a century break in his very first frame played at the Crucible. Despite this, his best run at the World Championship was only reaching the quarter-final.
O'Brien started the 2007/2008 campaign in Shanghai where he had beaten Paul Davies and Barry Hawkins in qualifying rounds, however, he lost to Steve Davis in the first round. O'Brien also qualified for the Grand Prix but lost four of his group matches to finish 5th in his group ahead of only Graeme Dott.
After qualifying for the main draw of the 2007 Northern Ireland Trophy by beating Barry Pinches in a deciding frame, O'Brien went on to beat Dave Harold in the first round of the main draw. Victories over John Higgins (in a decider), Barry Hawkins and Ronnie O'Sullivan, before he reached the second ranking-event final of his career by beating Mark Allen by 6 frames to 3. He lost the final to Stephen Maguire, 5–9.
This run helped him return to the top 32 of the Snooker world rankings 2007/2008, but the early part of the 2008/2009 season proved disappointing, O'Brien not reaching the last sixteen of any of the first four tournaments.
He is also the only player to score a century in his first frame at the World Championships in the Crucible, which he achieved against Alan McManus in 1994 (though he lost the match 10–7 and did not qualify again until 1998), and the first player ever to beat John Parrott in a World Championship qualifier, in 2005. As of the end of 2009 O'Brien has compiled 101 competitive century breaks in his career.
He qualified for the Players Tour Championship 2011/2012 – Finals held in Galway but lost his Last 24 match 0-4 to Joe Perry.
Ranking event finals: 2 (1 title, 1 runner-up)