O’Brien Surges Closer to Shanghai

Fergal O’Brien enjoyed a comfortable 5-2 victory over youngster Michael White to advance to the final qualifying round for the upcoming Shanghai Masters.

O’Brien failed to make the opening ranking event of the season in Australia but will be hoping to go one better tomorrow when he faces former Shanghai Masters champion Ricky Walden.

The Dubliner recently performed quite badly alongside Ken Doherty at the World Cup for Republic of Ireland but his team-mate subsequently went on to reach the semi-finals Down Under and O’Brien will be desperate for a resurgence of his own.

The 39 year-old fired in a smashing century break of 136 in the sixth frame and eased to a victory in the next at the World Snooker Academy in Sheffield.

Many of the other veteran players on the circuit were also among the winners and losers during the third round of qualifying today.

Nigel Bond wasted little time in ousting an out-of-sorts Jimmy White 5-0 in devastating fashion.

The 1995 World Championship finalist opened with a fluent century but the next three frames could have gone either way.

Yet, the trio of frames was added to Bond’s scoreboard after ‘The Whirlwind’ continued to make an assortment of shocking shots at crucial moments in the game.

Anthony Hamilton finally re-found some form after struggling with injury of late in a 5-3 triumph over Alan McManus while the eldest statesman on the circuit, Steve Davis, looked out of shape in receiving a 5-1 drubbing from Thailand’s Passakorn Suwannawat.

That said, Passakorn has been heralded by many as being one of the stars of the qualifiers this week while playing some entertaining snooker.

The Thai will not be the only cueist in with a chance of going through all four stages in an attempt to qualify tomorrow.

Kurt Maflin, representing Norway, fired in back-to-back centuries in a brilliant whitewash display over Pink Ribbon champion Mark Joyce while Asians James Wattana and Aditya Mehta are also in contention for the rare feat.

England’s Jack Lisowski, tipped here as One to Watch before the season commenced, continued his progress with a 5-0 victory over a reportedly very ill Mike Dunn.

Dunn has been suffering with flu of late but, nevertheless, it continues Lisowski’s excellent form that has him flying up the provisional world rankings and the former Paul Hunter Scholarship has yet to drop a single frame this week.

Two players also seeking a foothold higher up the rankings are Matthew Selt and Tom Ford – both of whom enjoyed relatively easy 5-1 scorelines over Ian McCulloch and Anthony McGill respectively.

There were also wins for Liu Song of China, Jamie Burnett, Robert Milkins and a marathon match involving Barry Pinches and Peter Lines that lasted five and a half hours with Pinches coming out on top in a decider.

At the time of writing Michael Holt is 4-3 ahead of Cao Yupeng – another contender for going all the way through each qualifying round for Shanghai – and, perhaps unsurprisingly, Rory McLeod and Adrian Gunnell are in a long slog. It is currently 3-2 to McLeod.

For a more detailed look at the draw for the Shanghai Masters qualifiers click here.

Update: Michael Holt completed the win against Cao Yupeng while Adrien Gunnell edged past Rory McLeod 5-4.

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