LONDON – Ronnie O’Sullivan was a few pots away from achieving perfection in a frame of snooker.
But, with a maximum break of 147 in his grasp, the sport’s most charismatic player turned down the chance to complete the most coveted feat in snooker because he felt the prize money of £10,000 ($14,500) was “too cheap.”
In the latest controversial episode in O’Sullivan’s colorful career, he chose to pot the pink ball off the next-to-last red — instead of continuing his bid for the perfect break with the more difficult black. The decision during a first-round match at the Welsh Open on Monday drew a few jeers from the crowd for the most popular player in the sport.
The five-time world champion went on to clear the table for a break of 146.
“I knew it was 10 grand and I just thought that’s a bit too cheap really,” said O’Sullivan, nicknamed “The Rocket.” “To make a maxi, it’s such a massive achievement, and if they’re going to pay us 10 grand, I think it’s worth a bit more than that.
“Once the prize goes up a bit, I’ll go for the 147.”
Winning the frame clinched a 4-1 victory over Barry Pinches, and O’Sullivan grinned broadly as he left the arena in the Welsh capital of Cardiff.
“I like to entertain the fans,” O’Sullivan said. “It’s like a film — you want them to come back and watch the next one. There’s no point giving them the best ending they could ever have, let’s just leave them for a better ending next time.”
The incident revived memories of a frame O’Sullivan played at the World Open in Glasgow in 2010. On that occasion, he just needed to pot the black ball to complete a 147 when he decided to end the frame, on a break of 140. But after the match, the referee pleaded with him to “do it for the fans,” so O’Sullivan returned to the table and sank the black.
There wasn’t a prize for a 147 in that tournament.
On Monday, O’Sullivan asked the match referee midway through his break what the bonus prize was for a 147, and looked visibly disappointed when told he could win up to £12,000 — £10,000 for the 147 and £2,000 for the highest break of the tournament. He also asked TV commentators in the commentary box for information.
O’Sullivan has a world-record 13 maximum breaks in his career.