Snooker: O'Sullivan in the money again

Newly-crowned world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan, determined not to take his foot off the pedal, ended a spectacularly successful season on a sweet note.

O'Sullivan is still on cloud nine after capturing the game's most coveted title at the Crucible last week.

And he lifted his sixth trophy of the campaign by beating Stephen Hendry 9-7 in the final of the Premier League at Inverness Sports Centre.

"It was great to win the world but it's history," said O'Sullivan.

"Its important to live in the present. It wouldn't have been the end of the world if I'd lost but this is a good result for me and a great way to end the season."

O'Sullivan, who also got the better of Hendry in the finals of the Regal Scottish Masters and Irish Masters, collected a winner's cheque for £60,000. That swelled his total prize money for 2000/2001 to £684,130.

That is the third most lucrative season ever put together. Only Hendry, with £740,194 in 1994/95 and £694,056 during the 1990/91 campaign, has pocketed more.

"I've had an unbelievable season. I can't really get my head around what I've done," said O'Sullivan, who also defended his China Open title and scooped £100,000 by triumphing at the Champions Cup.

"The difference has been that when I've turned up at tournaments not feeling all that clever I've been able to battle. Then my form has kicked in after a couple of matches and I've got stronger and stronger."

At the end of the first session, the pair were locked together at 4-4 but Hendry, thanks to breaks of 127, 56, 92 and a 64 clearance to snatch the ninth frame on the black, looked set to win the Premier League for the fifth time when he established a 7-5 advantage.

But the turning point arrived in frame 13 when, with little in it, Hendry potted a black, took the cue-ball into the pack of reds but unluckily kissed the pink to a distant baulk pocket.

"That really helped me and it was a blow for Stephen," said O'Sullivan, who stepped in with a run of 43, drew level at 7-7 and breezed through the closing two frames by constructing breaks of 75 and 72.

"Now I'm going to play some football, get myself fit and enjoy the summer," said O'Sullivan, who has now won 22 tournaments since turning professional as a 16-year-old in 1992.

It was Hendry's fourth defeat in five finals this season. His only title came at the Rothmans Malta Grand Prix in February.

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