Snooker: Doherty so close to 147 dream

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The Independent Online
IT HAS been an unprecedented season for 147 breaks, but it is still every player's dream to achieve the maximum clearance in the spotlight of the World Championships at The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield.

Ken Doherty was the latest player to come close to joining The Crucible's "maximum-break club" yesterday, the former world champion taking blacks with the first 13 reds during frame 12 of his opening-round game against Steve James. The Irishman reached 104, but with a pounds 147,000 prize beckoning Doherty lost his position on the penultimate red.

He attempted to keep the break going by doubling the ball into a middle pocket but his luck was out and he had to settle for setting up a second- round encounter with Nigel Bond.

"The main thing was to win the match but it was a great chance," admitted Doherty, the world champion in 1997 and runner-up last year.

"You don't get many opportunities to make a 147, especially at The Crucible. I thought from about the third red it might be on because the balls were all spread nicely. But there are plenty more frames."

Doherty also made runs of 57, 81, 56, 54 and 65 while James gained one of his three frame successes with a 137 clearance.

In an encounter between two Far-Eastern competitors, Thailand's James Wattana established a 5-4 overnight lead over Marco Fu from Hong Kong.

Wattana looked more at ease in the early stages as the 21-year-old Fu, the second-youngest player in the tournament, struggled to come to terms with the unfamiliar surroundings and lost the first two frames.

However, it was a different story after the interval as Fu came back strongly and had an excellent chance to take a 4-3 lead. But despite a 44-0 advantage, Wattana was allowed back in to steal the frame. Wattana then made a break of 46 for 5-3 before Fu's third half-century brought his arrears down to one overnight.

They resume with 10 frames to play and there seems every chance the match could go the distance. However, the eventual winner has the dubious privilege of meeting the six-times world champion Stephen Hendry or the dangerous qualifier Paul Hunter in the second round.

EMBASSY WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP (SHEFFIELD) today's games - morning session (10.00): M Williams (Wal) v I McCulloch (Eng); J Wattana (Thai) v M Fu (HK). Afternoon session (14.30): M King (Eng) v D Morgan (Wal); S Davis (Eng) v J Perry (Eng). Evening session (19.00): Williams v McCulloch; S Hendry (Sco) v P Hunter (Eng).