1997 - RONNIE O'SULLIVAN MAKES MAXIMUM IN RECORD TIME
There have been over 1,000 century breaks made at the Crucible, thousands and thousands more elsewhere and 63 officially ratified 147s since Steve Davis made the first in 1982.
But there’s never been anything like the five minutes, 20 seconds of genius served up by Ronnie O’Sullivan one Monday afternoon in April 1997.
O’Sullivan, at the time 21, had struggled in the opening session of his first round match against Mick Price and trailed 4-3 before winning the last two frames to get his nose in front.
Breaks of 91 and 86 made it 7-4 and the result no longer seemed in doubt. At 8-5, O’Sullivan knocked in a red from distance, the cue ball flicked off another red and knocked the black towards a corner pocket.
From then on it was perfection. On 49, he went into the pack and the table was at his mercy. On 89 he split two reds that were impeding one another.
After that he never looked liked he would miss. There was barely time for the audience to contemplate it in any case.
Why does this 147 rate higher than any other? Because it was the perfect demonstration of sheer natural talent.
O’Sullivan made the game look ridiculously easy. Anyone who has ever played snooker – at any level – knows that it isn’t.
Also, the break was one of those moments that lifted snooker from the sports section of newspapers and gave the game wider currency.
It is something we have come to rely on O’Sullivan for more and more over the years, often to his detriment.
That afternoon in 1997 he had an average shot time of under nine seconds and earned £530 a second for the maximum.
It was worth every penny. O’Sullivan failed to make good on this moment of brilliance by losing in the next round. He would not win the title until he was 25.
But in terms of what can be achieved on a snooker table, this break stands above any other.