Paul Hunter

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For other uses, see Paul Hunter (disambiguation).
Paul Hunter
Born (1978-10-14)14 October 1978
Leeds, Yorkshire
Died 9 October 2006(2006-10-09) (aged 27)
Sport country  England
  • Beckham of the Baize
  • The Man with the Golden Cue
  • Snooker Spice
Professional 1995–2006
Highest ranking 4 (2004/2005)[1]
Career winnings UK£1,525,050
Highest break 146 (2004 Premier League)
Century breaks 114
Tournament wins
Ranking 3
Non-ranking 3

Paul Alan Hunter (14 October 1978 – 9 October 2006) was an English professional snooker player. His media profile developed swiftly and he became known as the "Beckham of the Baize" because of his good looks and flamboyant style.[2][3]

Hunter was a three-time Masters Champion, winning the title on the deciding frame on all three occasions. Hunter compiled 114 competitive century breaks[4] in the course of his professional career, including a personal record break of 146 compiled at the 2004 Premier League.[5] Hunter also won three ranking titles, the British Open and the Welsh Open (twice).[1]

In March 2005 Hunter was diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumors. He died shortly before his 28th birthday in October 2006.[5]

Early life[edit]

Hunter was born in Leeds in 1978[2] and was educated at St Andrews Primary School and Cardinal Heenan High School.[6] With some encouragement from friends and family, he spent many hours practising snooker. He often travelled to Bradford to practise alongside Joe Johnson.[7] At the age of 12 Hunter was considered an "outstanding junior talent".[6] He won many junior tournaments and at the age of 14 won the English Doubles Championship with Richard Brooke.[2] With the help of former professional snooker players Jimmy Michie and Joe Johnson, Hunter made his debut among the professionals in July 1995 at the age of 16.[1][2][6]

Life and career[edit]

Early career (1995–2000)[edit]

Four months after his professional debut, Hunter reached the second round of the 1995 UK Championship by defeating world number six Alan McManus 9–4.[8] He followed up that achievement by becoming the youngest player to reach the last four of a ranking event when he reached the semi-finals of the 1996 Welsh Open at the age of 17 years and three months,[2] defeating Stephen Hendry on the way.[9]

Also in 1996, he reached the quarter-finals of the UK Championship, where he beat Willie Thorne 9–0, James Wattana 9–5 and Terry Murphy 9–7, before losing 5–9 against eventual champion Stephen Hendry.[10] Hunter was awarded a wildcard to play at the 1997 Masters, where he lost 1–5 against Mark Williams in the first round.[11]

He was fined £4,550 and docked 1,140 ranking points after testing positive for cannabis during an event in 1997.[7] His first ranking tournament victory came at the 1998 Welsh Open, where he defeated seven players to lift the title and claim the £60,000 winner's cheque: Paul Wykes (5–3), Neal Foulds (5–2), Steve Davis (5–3), Nigel Bond (5–4), Alan McManus (5–3) and Peter Ebdon (6–1), before defeating John Higgins 9–5 in the final. During the final, Hunter made three century breaks (108, 116 and 127). He was 2–4 down at one time, but won seven of the last eight frames to clinch the title.[12] He followed up that success by reaching the semi-finals of the 1998 UK Championship in Bournemouth[13] and was named the Snooker Writers Association's "Young Player of the Year".[6][7]

Hunter's first appearance at the Crucible came in 1999 World Championship, where he lost 8–10 in the first round to the eventual champion Stephen Hendry.[14] His form that season elevated him to no. 12 in the 1999/2000 world rankings resulting in automatic qualification into the final stages of ranking tournaments for the first time.[15]

After the 1999/2000 season, demoting him to no. 14 in the 2000/2001 world rankings,[15] he reached the quarter-final stage or better in six tournaments the following season. He was a runner-up at the Welsh Open,[16] a semi-finalist at the British Open[17] and Scottish Open[18] and a quarter-finalist at the Grand Prix[19] and China Open.[20]

Masters champion (2001–2004)[edit]

In the 2001 Masters, Hunter beat his close friend and defending champion Matthew Stevens 6–5 in the last 16, Peter Ebdon 6–3 in the quarter-finals and Stephen Hendry 6–4 in the semi-finals.[21][22] In the final Hunter recovered from a 3–7 deficit against Fergal O'Brien to win 10–9. Hunter compiled four centuries in six frames,[22] and earned the £175,000 first prize.[23] In his post-match interview, Hunter caused a media sensation by admitting he resorted to "Plan B" with Lindsey Fell, then his girlfriend, during the interval while 2–6 down. The 'B' in "Plan B" purportedly refers to the word "bonk", a British slang term for sexual intercourse. Hunter and Fell retired to their hotel room and he recalled: "Sex was the last thing on my mind. I just wasn't in the mood. But I had to do something to break the tension. It was a quick session – around 10 minutes or so – but I felt great afterwards. She jumped in the bath, I had a kip and then played like a dream. I reeled off four centuries in six frames. I won easily."[7][24]

In 2002, Hunter retained his title. He defeated Stephen Lee 6–3 in the first round, Peter Ebdon 6–5 in the quarter-finals and Alan McManus 6–5 in the semi-finals to reach the final, where defeated Mark Williams 10–9, despite at one point of the match trailing 0–5.[25] In doing so, he became only the third player in history of the Masters to retain the trophy along with Cliff Thorburn and Stephen Hendry, and in doing so he won the £190,000 prize money.[26] Hunter also won his second Welsh Open title, defeating Ken Doherty 9–2 in the final,[27] but was defeated 9–10 in the first round of the 2002 World Championship by Quinten Hann.[28]

His success was to continue at the 2002 British Open, staged in Telford, where he captured his third ranking title by beating Ian McCulloch 9–4 in the final.[29] Hunter couldn't win the Masters for the third time in row in 2003, as he lost 3–6 in the semi-finals to the previous year's runner-up and eventual champion Mark Williams.[30] His greatest success that campaign, though, was only a few months away.

In the 2003 World Championship, he beat Allister Carter 10–5, Matthew Stevens 13–6 and defending champion Peter Ebdon 13–12 to reach the semi-finals.[31][32] In his semi-final, Hunter established a 15–9 overnight lead over Ken Doherty, however he only could win one of the remaining nine frames, and lost the match 16–17.[33] As a result of his performances Hunter earned a place in the world's top eight in the 2003/2004 world rankings for the first time in his career, having been ranked number nine for the previous two seasons.[15]

In 2003/2004, Hunter won the Masters for the third time in four years, yet again by the score of 10–9. Hunter trailed Ronnie O'Sullivan throughout the entire match before pipping him to the trophy in the final frame. In fact, Hunter trailed 1–6, 2–7, 6–8 and 7–9 before reeling off the final three frames to seal the sixth title of his professional career. He made five century breaks in the match.[34][35] Hunter also reached the final of the Players Championship, but lost 7–9 against Jimmy White.[36] Hunter reached the second round of the 2004 World Championship, where he lost 12–13 against Matthew Stevens, despite leading 10–6 and 12–10 at some points of the match.[37] Hunter and Lindsey Fell, a beauty therapist, married in August 2004 in Jamaica.[38]

Hunter began the 2004/2005 season, by reaching the semi-finals of the Grand Prix, where he lost 3–6 to Ronnie O'Sullivan.[39] He then reached the quarter-finals of the China Open,[40] just days after discovering that he was suffering from cancer. His career-high ranking was number four in the world during the 2004/2005 season, which dropped to number five in 2005/2006.[15]

Later years and illness (2005–2006)[edit]

On 6 April 2005, Hunter announced that he was suffering from malignant neuroendocrine tumors, the causes of which are unknown. A spokesman for the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association said at the time: "Paul will undergo treatment to cure himself of this illness. He would like to reassure his fans and supporters that, as with his snooker career, he is tenacious and positive in his fight against the disease."[41] Hunter had been receiving chemotherapy for his illness.[38][42]

Hunter returned to the circuit for the start of the 2005/2006 season, but lost to Rory McLeod in the first round of the Grand Prix.[43] Hunter's next match of the season was at the UK Championship against Jamie Burnett, in which Hunter dramatically came back from 6–8 down to win the match 9–8.[44] Despite this Hunter lost in the next round 2–9 against eventual champion Ding Junhui.[45] On 26 December 2005, Lindsey gave birth to their first and only child, daughter Evie Rose,[38][46] who weighed 8 lb 2 oz (3.7 kg).[47] He lost in the first round of the 2006 World Championship 5–10 to Neil Robertson, his last ever match.[7]

He slipped from 5th to 34th in the 2006/2007 rankings.[15][42][46] Hunter admitted that he was worse than the previous year and confirmed that he had been in continuous pain.[48] On 27 July 2006, the WPBSA confirmed that, following a members' vote, the organisation's rules would be changed to allow Hunter to sit out the entire 2006/2007 season with his world ranking frozen at 34. He intended to devote the year to treatment for his cancer.[1][6]

Death and legacy[edit]

Hunter died at 8:20 pm on 9 October 2006 – just five days short of his 28th birthday – at the Kirkwood Hospice in Huddersfield.[49] Prior to the Premier League Snooker matches on 12 October 2006, players Jimmy White, Ronnie O'Sullivan, Ken Doherty and Ding Junhui, along with referee Alan Chamberlain and commentators Willie Thorne and Phil Yates, all stood for a moment of silence to remember Hunter.[5] He left a wife, Lindsey, and one daughter.[46] His funeral took place on 19 October 2006 at Leeds Parish Church.[50] Many players attended the ceremony, and his best friend, Matthew Stevens, was a pallbearer at the service.[51]

Fellow professionals Stephen Hendry, Mark Williams, Jimmy White, Matthew Stevens and Ken Doherty led calls for The Masters trophy to be named in Hunter's memory.[52] Instead, the non-ranking, and now minor-ranking tournament, Fürth German Open was renamed the Paul Hunter Classic in his honour; a tournament first won by Paul Hunter.[53] In 2006 Hunter was posthumously awarded the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Helen Rollason Award – his widow Lindsey accepted the award on his behalf.[54] The Paul Hunter Foundation was set up after his death to give disadvantaged children places to play sport and socialise.[55]

Performance timeline[edit]

Tournaments 1995/
Rankings[15] UR[nb 1] 78 43 24 12 14 9 9 8 4 5
Ranking tournaments
British Open LQ LQ 1R 2R 2R SF 2R W QF 2R NH
Grand Prix[nb 2] LQ 1R 4R 2R 5R QF 3R QF 3R SF 1R
UK Championship 2R QF 2R SF 4R 6R 3R 3R QF 3R 3R
Irish Masters NR NR NR NR NR NR NR SF 2R 2R NH
Players Championship[nb 3] LQ LQ 4R QF 3R SF 2R 4R F NH NH
Malta Cup[nb 4] LQ LQ NH 2R NH NH 1R QF 2R 1R 1R
Welsh Open SF LQ W 2R 3R F W SF QF 2R 2R
China Open NH NH 2R 1R 1R QF 2R NH NH QF 1R
Thailand Masters 1R 1R LQ 1R 1R 1R 2R NH NH NH NH
World Snooker Championship LQ LQ LQ 1R 1R 2R 1R SF 2R 1R 1R
Non ranking tournaments
The Masters A WR A A 1R W W SF W 1R 1R
Premier League A A A A A A A A RR RR A
Irish Masters A A A A A A 1R Ranking Event NH
Scottish Masters A A A 1R A A 1R QF NH NH NH
Performance Table Legend
A did not participate in the tournament #R lost in the early rounds of the tournament
(RR = round robin, WR = Wild Card Round)
QF advanced to but not past the quarterfinals SF advanced to but not past the semifinals
F advanced to the final, tournament runner-up W won the tournament
NH means an event was not held NR means an event was no longer a ranking event

Career finals[edit]

Ranking finals: 5 (3 titles, 2 runner-ups)[edit]

Outcome No. Year Championship Opponent in the final Score Ref.
Winner 1. 1998 Welsh Open Scotland Higgins, JohnJohn Higgins 9–5 [56]
Runner-up 1. 2001 Welsh Open Republic of Ireland Doherty, KenKen Doherty 2–9 [56]
Winner 2. 2002 Welsh Open (2) Republic of Ireland Doherty, KenKen Doherty 9–7 [56]
Winner 3. 2002 British Open England McCulloch, IanIan McCulloch 9–4 [57]
Runner-up 2. 2004 Players Championship England White, JimmyJimmy White 7–9 [58]

Non-ranking finals: 3 (3 titles)[edit]

Outcome No. Year Championship Opponent in the final Score Ref.
Winner 1. 2001 The Masters Republic of Ireland O'Brien, FergalFergal O'Brien 10–9 [59]
Winner 2. 2002 The Masters (2) Wales Williams, MarkMark Williams 10–9 [59]
Winner 3. 2004 The Masters (3) England O'Sullivan, RonnieRonnie O'Sullivan 10–9 [59]

Pro-am finals: 1 (1 title)[edit]

Outcome No. Year Championship Opponent in the final Score Ref.
Winner 1. 2004 Grand Prix Fürth Wales Stevens, MatthewMatthew Stevens 4–2 [60]

Amateur finals: 1 (1 runner-up)[edit]

Outcome No. Year Championship Opponent in the final Score Ref.
Runner-up 1. 1995 English Amateur Championship England Gray, DavidDavid Gray 7–8 [61]


  1. ^ New players on the tour don't have a ranking.
  2. ^ The event run under different name as LG Cup (2001/2002-2003/2004)
  3. ^ The event run under different names such as International Open (1995/1996-1996/1997) and Scottish Open (1997/1998-2002/2003)
  4. ^ The event run under different names such as European Open (1995/1996-1996/1997 and 2001/2002-2003/2004) and Irish Open (1998/1999)


  1. ^ a b c d "Player Profile of Paul Hunter". Chris Turner's Snooker Archive. Archived from the original on 13 March 2012. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Gray, Sadie (11 October 2006). "Paul Hunter". The Times (London). Retrieved 28 October 2010. 
  3. ^ "White pays tribute to Hunter". Evening Standard. Retrieved 28 October 2010. 
  4. ^ Chris Turner. "Centuries". Chris Turner's Snooker Archive. Archived from the original on 10 February 2013. Retrieved 13 December 2008. 
  5. ^ a b c "Cancer victim Paul Hunter dies, aged 27". Retrieved 28 October 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c d e "Obituaries: Paul Hunter". The Daily Telegraph (London). 11 October 2006. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  7. ^ a b c d e "Paul Hunter". The Independent (London). 11 October 2006. Retrieved 28 October 2010. 
  8. ^ "Royal Liver Assurance UK Open". Retrieved 13 October 2010. 
  9. ^ "World Snooker Past Players Paul Hunter". World Snooker. Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  10. ^ "UK Championship 1996". Retrieved 17 October 2010. 
  11. ^ "Benson & Hedges Masters 1997". Retrieved 2012-06-12. 
  12. ^ " Regal Welsh Open 1998". Retrieved 13 December 2008. 
  13. ^ "Liverpool Victoria UK Championship 1998". Retrieved 13 October 2010. 
  14. ^ "Embassy World Championship 1999". Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f "Ranking History". Retrieved 2012-06-12. 
  16. ^ "Regal Welsh Open 2001". Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  17. ^ "British Open 2000". Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  18. ^ "Regal Scottish Open 2001". Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  19. ^ "Grand Prix 2000". Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  20. ^ "China Open 2000". Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  21. ^ "Hunter bags Hendry scalp". London: BBC Sport. 10 February 2001. Retrieved 14 December 2008. 
  22. ^ a b " Benson & Hedges Masters 2001". Retrieved 13 December 2008. 
  23. ^ "Dream come true for Master Hunter". London: BBC Sport. 12 February 2001. Retrieved 14 December 2008. 
  24. ^ "Interview Paul Hunter". The Guardian (London). 12 April 2004. Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  25. ^ "Benson & Hedges Masters 2002". Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  26. ^ "Hunter bags second Masters". BBC Sport Media (London). 11 February 2002. Retrieved 14 December 2008. 
  27. ^ "Regal Welsh Open 2002". Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  28. ^ "Embassy World Championship 2002". Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  29. ^ "British Open 2002". Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  30. ^ "Benson & Hedges Masters 2003". Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  31. ^ "Embassy World Championship 2003". Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  32. ^ Mark Orlovac (1 May 2003). "Hunter edges out Ebdon". BBC Sport Media (London). Retrieved 18 December 2008. 
  33. ^ Dan Warren (3 May 2003). "Doherty wins Crucible epic". BBC Sport Media (London). Retrieved 18 December 2008. 
  34. ^ " Masters 2004". Retrieved 13 December 2008. 
  35. ^ Clive Jones (9 February 2004). "Hunter claims Masters epic". London: BBC Sport. Retrieved 13 December 2008. 
  36. ^ "Daily Record Players Championship 2004". Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  37. ^ Harlow, Phil (24 April 2004). "Stevens shoots down Hunter". BBC Sport. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  38. ^ a b c Day, Elizabeth; Robertson, Peter (22 October 2006). "I took Paul's hand in mine... it was time to let him go". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  39. ^ "Grand Prix 2004". Retrieved 31 January 2011. 
  40. ^ "China Open 2005". Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  41. ^ "Hunter diagnosed with cancer". RTÉ Sport. 6 April 2005. Retrieved 13 April 2007. 
  42. ^ a b "Snooker star Paul Hunter dies at 27". Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  43. ^ "Grand Prix 2005". Retrieved 31 January 2011. 
  44. ^ "Brave Hunter is winner again". Daily Mirror on Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  45. ^ "Travis Perkins UK Championship 2005". Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  46. ^ a b c Gray, Sadie (11 October 2006). "Paul Hunter". The Times (London). Retrieved 28 October 2010. 
  47. ^ "Baby delight for cancer hit snooker ace". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 28 October 2010. 
  48. ^ Everton, Clive (11 October 2006). "Obituary: Paul Hunter". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 28 October 2010. 
  49. ^ "Doherty tribute to 'great character' Hunter". Daily Mail (London). 10 October 2006. Retrieved 28 October 2010. 
  50. ^ "Hundreds gather at Hunter funeral". London: BBC News / West Yorkshire. 19 October 2006. Retrieved 13 April 2007. 
  51. ^ "Hundreds gather at Hunter funera". BBC News. 19 October 2006. Retrieved 28 October 2010. 
  52. ^ Dillon, Andrew (17 May 2007). "Fitting tribute to tragic Hunter". The Sun (London). Retrieved 5 May 2009.  Check date values in: |year= / |date= mismatch (help)
  53. ^ "Geschichte der PHC". SnookerStars. Retrieved 17 April 2011. 
  54. ^ "Hunter loses battle with cancer". BBC. 9 October 2006. Retrieved 25 January 2009. 
  55. ^ "Official Paul Hunter Foundation Website". Retrieved 5 May 2009. 
  56. ^ a b c Turner, Chris. "Welsh Open". Chris Turner's Snooker Archive. Archived from the original on 16 February 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2011. 
  57. ^ Turner, Chris. "British Open (including British Gold Cup, Yamaha Organs Trophy and Yamaha International Masters)". Chris Turner's Snooker Archive. Archived from the original on 16 February 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2011. 
  58. ^ Turner, Chris. "Players Championship". Chris Turner'S Snooker Archive. Archived from the original on 16 February 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  59. ^ a b c Turner, Chris. "The Masters". Chris Turner's Snooker Archvie. Archived from the original on 7 January 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2011. 
  60. ^ "Paul Hunter Classic History". Global Snooker. Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  61. ^ Turner, Chris. "English Amateur Championship". Chris Turner's Snooker Archive. Archived from the original on 12 May 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2011. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Hunter, Lindsey (2008). Unbreakable: My Life with Paul – a Story of Extraordinary Courage and Love. London: HarperElement. ISBN 0-00-726091-1. 

External links[edit]