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Ken Doherty (born September 17, 1969) is an Irish professional snooker player. He is the only player ever to have been world amateur (1989) and world professional champion (1997). He was also World U-21 champion in 1989. A fine season in 2005-06 has seen him rise to no. 2 in the snooker world rankings, his highest ever.
After Cliff Thorburn from Canada in 1980, Doherty became only the second player from outside the United Kingdom to win the World Championship when he beat Stephen Hendry 18-12 in the 1997 final. Ken also reached the World Championship final in 1998, losing to John Higgins and in 2003, losing narrowly to Mark Williams. The latter run was noted for some impressive comebacks, including a final-frame win over Shaun Murphy and a semi-final fightback from 9-15 to beat Paul Hunter 17-16. In that championship he played more frames than anyone before or since.
In the 2005 World Championship, Doherty beat Barry Pinches in the first round 10-5, winning the last 8 frames, but was knocked out in the second round losing to Alan McManus 13-11.
Following an average start to the 2005/06 season, Doherty won the Malta Cup in February 2006, beating John Higgins in the final. Doherty had trailed 8-5 at one stage but managed a stirring comeback, winning four frames in a row. Doherty called the victory, which bridged a five-year gap, his "most important tournament win since the World Championship". In the 2006 World Championship, Ken started brightly winning his first match and defeated Barry Hawkins 10-1 and then he beat Matthew Stevens, playing superbly to win the last 5 frames. Ken was favourite in his quarter-final match against Marco Fu but lost 13-10. It was 8-8 as the final session started, but Ken struggled, although tellingly he battled to win a frame in which he required 3 snookers. Ken led 7-6, 8-7, 9-8 and 10-9 but could never quite take that two frame advantage that might have given him the momentum to win the match. Ken admitted afterwards that he "blew it"" but that he still had "a couple more years" to come back and win the title.
Doherty's game is quite tactically based, with some feeling that he doesn't always score heavily enough, although he is also capable of making big breaks. This cautious approach has led to commentators calling him Crafty Ken. Still, in 2000, he narrowly failed to achieve a maximum 147 break when he missed a relatively easy final black off its spot in the 15th frame of the Benson & Hedges Masters final against Matthew Stevens.
He practises in Jason's of Ranelagh, Dublin, where he used to play handicap snooker tournaments on Saturday mornings before moving on to national tournaments. In his first national event, an U-16 ranking tournament, Doherty lost in the final but would come back a month later and beat the man who had beaten him in the Irish U-16 National Championships. He won the World Championship in 1997 with a cue he purchased for £2.
Ken resides in Ranelagh and is married to Sarah, who is of Australian descent. He was nearly blinded in 2002 in a bathroom accident; after slipping, he struck an ornament, which narrowly missed his left eye. However, his distinctive scar on his right cheek dates back to his seventh birthday, when he fell off a shed roof on to a metal dustbin.
Recently, he started working on TV studio coverage on snooker matches with the BBC snooker coverage team, along with Steve Davis and John Parrott. Doherty is a huge Manchester United fan and he paraded his trophy at Old Trafford in front of 55,000 spectators following his World Championship triumph.