Fu's extraordinary debut in professional ranks leads to final

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 October, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 October, 1998, 12:00am

HONG KONG'S Marco Fu Kar-chun surged through to the final of snooker's GBP370,000 British Grand Prix last night with a crushing 6-1 victory over Scotland's Chris Small in a one-sided semi-final at the Preston Guild Hall.


Fu, who stunned the snooker world with victories over Ronnie O'Sullivan and Peter Ebdon in earlier rounds, oozed class on his way to an emphatic win against world number 25 Small.


Small hardly got a look in against the 20-year-old from Happy Valley - playing in only his first tournament as a professional - as he notched a 63 break to win the opening frame 83-42.


He took the second frame 65-32 and then racked up a 58 break in the third on his way to a 103-25 win.


In the fourth frame, Fu looked to be on course to take a 4-0 lead after opening the scoring with a break of 25. But a simple missed red left the table open for Small, who cleared up superbly with a 107 break to win the frame 107-25.


Fu was not away from the table for long, however, and in the fifth he rattled in a break of 77 to win 82-1 and take a 4-1 lead. A further break of 51 in the sixth frame put him 5-1 up and he clinched his place in the final with a 60-32 win in the seventh frame.


'I played better than I did against Peter Ebdon but not as well as when I beat Ronnie O'Sullivan,' Fu said after the win. 'But it is still great to be in the final. I felt relaxed today and I'm enjoying myself at the moment.


'I'm happy with the way I played, although I'm sure he [Small] didn't play as well as he can. The only thing I'm disappointed about is that I won't be able to play Stephen Hendry in the final,' said Fu, referring to Hendry's surprise quarter-final defeat against Dave Harold earlier in the tournament.


Fu will now play the winner of Harold's semi against Stephen Lee in today's best-of-17 frame final.


'If I was playing Hendry I would have a chance to learn something because he's the best in the world,' Fu added.


Fu is guaranteed a minimum of GBP32,000 in the final with GBP60,000 going to the winner.


Win or lose today, there can be little doubt Fu will leave Preston as one of the hottest properties to arrive on the international snooker scene in years.


'I've been lucky because when I started this tournament, nobody knew anything about me. That has helped because I haven't been under any pressure,' Fu said.


Fu awoke yesterday morning to find his name splashed across the sports pages of English national newspapers, and his exploits have led BBC snooker commentators to describe him as the 'find of the tournament'.


One man who is surprised by the swiftness of Fu's rise to prominence is Grand Prix official Terry Lyons. Lyons recalled watching Fu during qualifying rounds for this year's Embassy World Championship in Sheffield.


'To be honest, I didn't think he would come good at the top level so soon. He has surprised a lot of people this week with how good he is. He can go on from here,' said Lyon.