The main draw of the third UK Players Tour Championship event of the season got under way today with the top half whittled down from 64 players to 8 at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester.
Judd Trump showed a little bit of form in stringing together a trio of triumphs to advance to the last 16.
The UK champion hammered Anthony McGill and Zhang Anda before being pushed further by the recently resurgent Joe Swail.
Finalist of the Paul Hunter Classic, Swail, now perplexingly labelled as an amateur, took the opener but lost three in succession to go within one of defeat.
The 42 year-old pulled one back to make things interesting but Trump, who hasn’t really turned up yet for the 2012/13 campaign, completed the win to book a meeting with local resident Robert Milkins.
In the only decider of round four, Shaun Murphy withstood a fightback from the gritty Mark King – who had earlier come through a marathon deciding frame turgid affair with Mark Joyce – to emerge a 4-3 victor.
Wuxi Classic champion Ricky Walden dropped only two frames en route to a place in the fourth round as he made light work of Australian Ben Judge in a whitewash, followed by dropping only the solitary frame each in what ought to have been harder matches against Ryan Day and Xiao Guodong.
Xiao’s failure to reach Sunday’s final’s action was disappointingly matched by his Chinese compatriot Liang Wenbo who went down 4-1 in his encounter with World Championship runner-up Ali Carter.
4-1 seemed to be the result of the last 32 on Friday as the ever-unpredictable Jamie Cope ousted Jamie Burnett by a similar scoreline while rookie Chen Zhe at least brought some success to China with victory over amateur Zak Surety – Chen had earlier surprised Englishman Andrew Higginson in a decider.
Another inconsistent competitor had one of his better days as Marco Fu upset form PTC challenger Stephen Maguire 4-2 before whitewashing a somewhat disinterested Mark Williams 4-0.
Today marked my first appearance at the SWSA and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
Having heard rave reports from various sources over the course of the last couple of years, I was always eager to sample first hand the facilities on offer.
This became even more paramount following the recent revelation that Paul Mount would not be staging any more professional tournaments sanctioned by World Snooker subsequent to the conclusion of this season’s contract.
That means that after PTC 4 in November the venue will resort back to its original guise staging amateur competitions like the annual Pink Ribbon held in June.
So with a day’s experience under my belt what do I think of the South West Snooker Academy? Put simply, top notch!
With such a spacious area at their disposal, the eight ‘outside’ tables don’t impede at all on each other with plenty of room for players and spectators alike to feel comfortable in their surroundings.
And the main table itself is in a lovely 300-plus seater arena that is able to be streamed live online to the masses on the web.
The main problem, though, and it is a biggish one to be fair, is its location a few miles outside of Gloucester town itself.
If it was in a more urban setting the likelihood of player satisfaction would almost certainly have been minimised and simultaneously the venue would be able to boast more spectators. This, of course, is through no fault of their own – it unfortunately just happens to be one of those things.
But it is undoubtedly a shame to lose such a great facility, one that has by all accounts been purpose built with the development of snooker across the UK in mind.
So basically what I’m saying is, particularly if you are in the general area, go while you still have the chance.
The draw and list of results can be viewed by clicking here.