Masters 2020: Stuart Bingham fights back to beat Ali Carter and win title
England's Stuart Bingham became the oldest Masters winner by defeating Ali Carter 10-8 in a thrilling and fluctuating final at Alexandra Palace.
Bingham, 43, claimed his second Triple Crown event title to go alongside his 2015 World Championship win.
Carter turned around a 5-3 deficit to lead 7-5, but world number 14 Bingham showed tremendous bottle to fight back.
He sealed victory with a nerveless break of 109 - his first century of the tournament ending Carter's hopes.
Bingham becomes the 24th different name on the Paul Hunter Trophy, collecting a record 250,000 winner's prize money.
Welshman Ray Reardon was 43 years and three months when he claimed the Masters in 1976, while Bingham is five months older.
"Ali played so well I was starting to think about what to say after being beaten. How I turned it around I don't know," said Bingham.
"I have won seven major tournaments now and want to get to 10. Hopefully one will be the UK Championship and I will go into the history books for winning the Triple Crown.
"I've really enjoyed the week and I think that's the key to my game and why I can perform like that.
"I am shattered. I've had about nine hours' sleep in two days. Every time he was scoring I was sitting in my chair thinking 'this is getting really comfy'. To get my hands on this trophy means the world."
Bingham's record in this tournament was dreadful with eight defeats at the first hurdle in nine appearances.
He was a 50-1 long shot when he lifted the sport's biggest prize at the Crucible Theatre and at the start of this tournament he would have been an outside bet to take the invitational event in London.
Bingham's form has been poor this season, reaching just one quarter-final at a ranking event, and his most recent silverware came at the Gibraltar Open last March.
Bingham missed this lucrative tournament two years ago as he served a six-month ban for betting breaches but has redeemed himself and the late bloomer - who won his first title in 2011 after first turning professional 16 years previously - now just needs to win the UK Championship to complete the Triple Crown series.
Having seen defending champion Judd Trump, UK winner Ding Junhui and former world champions Mark Selby and Neil Robertson all exit in the first round, he seized the opportunity to add a major to go alongside his six ranking titles.
"People will stop saying Bingham was a fluke to win the World Championship," said former world champion John Parrott. "He's backed it up and proven he's a top-class player."
"Stuart played himself into form in this tournament and withstood a lot of things thrown at him," said Parrott's fellow BBC pundit Steve Davis.
"Under pressure he held his nerve and his cueing stood the test."
Seven-time winner Ronnie O'Sullivan's decision to withdraw from the event meant his place went to world number 17 Carter, who he does not see eye-to-eye with following an on-table clash at the World Championship two years ago.
Away from the table, Carter has battled to recover from both testicular and lung cancer, as well as being diagnosed with Crohn's disease, stating after his semi-final win that he had "been to hell and back".
But there was to be no fairytale with Carter falling short in his third Triple Crown final, having lost to O'Sullivan in the 2008 and 2012 World Championships.
BBC pundits Stephen Hendry and Ken Doherty had said "fate" and "destiny" might be on Carter's side having beaten former world champions Selby, John Higgins and Shaun Murphy to advance, but it was not to be his day despite a resurgence and two centuries, though a 100,000 runners-up cheque may be of some comfort.
"I'm very disappointed to not win but he was the better player," said Carter. "I have to say all the right things but I am gutted.
"The interval swung the match. I was on fire to win those four frames. I look back at the pink but I've missed one ball in four frames."
These two Essex-born players used to compete against each other in the junior county league but were meeting in a major final for the first time.
Carter made the perfect start with a superb 126 break and also compiled 56 and 93 - in between Bingham's 75 - for a 3-2 advantage.
Play was momentarily halted with Bingham at the table in the fifth frame when someone seemed to have left a 'whoopee cushion' device inside the arena which kept emitting sounds. The crowd laughed at the incident but neither player found it funny.
Carter should have taken the sixth which could have been a huge turning point. With a deficit of 69 points and only 67 remaining on the table, he got the snooker required but then missed the final brown, allowing Bingham to pinch the frame on the black.
World number 14 Bingham made 50 in the next, as well as snatching a 40-minute frame for a two-frame cushion heading into the evening session.
The evening session was thrilling. Carter turned the match around by punishing Bingham's mistakes, clinching four frames in a row, including breaks of 95 and 133.