Classy performance puts Fu in the frame

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 October, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 October, 1998, 12:00am

Marco Fu Kar-chun put himself firmly in the frame for future stardom by reaching the final of the British snooker Grand Prix in Preston.

Despite losing the championship decider 9-2 to Britain's Stephen Lee, 20-year-old Fu has made a lasting impression on the world stage.

The youngster won GBP32,000 (about HK$412,000) for his runner-up place in one of the most prestigious tournaments on the snooker calendar.

'It's like a dream. I am very happy to have reached the final. It has been hectic but I have thoroughly enjoyed it,' Fu said.

He was trying to enter the winner's ranks in his first year as a professional, but was swept aside by an in-form Lee, who claimed his first professional title.

Fu beat Ronnie O'Sullivan and Peter Ebdon on his way to the final.

His performance will see him climb nine places - up from 105 a week earlier to 96 - in the world rankings. He was 377th earlier this year.

Fu said: 'I wanted to enjoy myself and that's what I did. It was nice to watch someone play so well though it was disappointing to lose.' Lee was impressed by his opponent's play during the week.

'Marco's a great player, but I got off to a flying start and I tried to keep him under pressure. I was a bit shaky to begin with, but once the adrenalin kicked in, I got stronger and stronger,' Lee said.

Fu was reduced to a mere spectator as Lee opened up a 4- 0 lead in just 62 minutes and never let up.