Ding gets a lucky break after being denied the prize money

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 April, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 April, 2005, 12:00am

Ding Junhui wrote himself into the history books by being the first Asian to win a ranking tournament in 10 years - but bizarrely he did not take home a cent in prize money and he dropped four places in the world rankings.

He pulled out of the qualifiers when organisers invited him into the tournament as a wild card in order to ensure he could play in front of his home crowd. But wild cards are not eligible for prize money and do not earn ranking points, so he was not awarded the GBP30,000 purse (about $440,000) and he fell four places to 58th in world standings.

No one expected Ding to win and tournament organisers said they are 'suitably embarrassed' and would soon have a meeting to discuss the possibility of giving him some money.

But the teen prodigy is already a big financial winner. Folks at the Star snooker equipment company were so impressed with his performance in the final - that was reportedly watched by more than 100 million people here - that they decided to present him with US$50,000 and a luxury apartment.

The Jiangsu boy, who celebrated his 18th birthday last week, can notch up century breaks at the drop of a hat - but this is one break he's having trouble believing.