Ronnie O’Sullivan pulled out of the Players Tour Championship Grand Finals in Galway at the last minute today, leaving his legion of fans disappointed.
The three-time world champion was already on the plane to make the trip over but apparently felt a recurrence of his glandular fever symptoms from earlier in the campaign.
It means that ‘The Rocket’ has now skipped the last two events and his decisions to leave both fans and tournament organisers in the lurch is, quite frankly, getting a tad tiresome.
There’s no doubting that O’Sullivan has suffered from the illness this year but the fact that he decides to make his decision at the last possible opportunity is frustrating.
It left the evening session with only the sole encounter between Andrew Higginson and Jamie Jones – two men outside the Top 16 and relatively unknown to the sell-out audience that paid good money to see the former world number one.
That said, the pair produced a thoroughly entertaining contest to give the fans value for their money with Higginson coming out a 4-3 victor in a thrilling contest that will go down as the match of the tournament so far.
Earlier Xiao Guodong upset Judd Trump in the shock of the tournament so far with a 4-2 victory over the Englishman.
Xiao opened with a century break as his opponent struggled to settle, looking a far cry from the player that won the UK Championship in December.
Even so, the 22 year-old had a chance to force a decider but amazingly missed the final black off the spot to allow Xiao in to record his first major quarter-final appearance of his professional career.
World number one Mark Selby lost his first frame to Ding Junhui but rattled off three sizeable contributions in sealing the next four frames for a 4-1 outcome.
Selby will play Lee for a place in the semi-finals tomorrow in what is the tie of the last eight encounters – the winner probably becoming favourite to lift the title alongside Neil Robertson, who faces practice partner Joe Perry.
The beneficiary of O’Sullivan’s absence is Ricky Walden who will play Stephen Maguire in the quarter-final after the Scot edged Mark Davis 4-2 in a match lacking any quality.
Despite all the drama on and off the table, attendance was very good on the third day at the Bailey Allen Hall.
It will be intriguing to see the level of support tomorrow with so many star names out, the rugby and St. Patrick’s Day to compete with.
The full draw and results can be viewed by clicking here.