Jimmy White’s Tour Survival at Breaking Point

Jimmy White has been a professional on the Main Tour since 1980.

In those 33 years, he has won almost everything that the game has to offer.

He has delighted a legion of followers who have supported him through thick and thin.

He went through many, many ups and downs – both in his private life, particularly when overcoming a scare with testicular cancer, and on the baize itself as a professional.

White has won 10 ranking event titles – sixth on the all-time champions list.

Known as ‘the Whirlwind’ for his rarely seen before speed and precision during his more formidable youth, White also won the Masters, the Premier League and a host of other important invitational events.

He was the World Amateur champion in 1979, he was victorious in the World Doubles with long-time friend Alex Higgins and was triumphant in the World Cup twice as a member of Team England.

Yet, the 51 year-old is perhaps sadly best remembered for what he ultimately didn’t achieve.

During a 10-year spell when he was a fixture at the pinnacle of the sport season in and season out, White fell short at the final hurdle on no fewer than six occasions in his eternal quest to capture the Holy Grail of snooker, the World Championship at the Crucible in Sheffield.

Despite this, James Warren White has been, and always will be, a legend of this sport.

The question is, is this the end?

Because a quick look at the rankings will point out that the Londoner is only five places above the traditional season ending cut-off point of 64.

However, an even deeper inspection will cast an even greater doubt as to whether or not we will be following the fortunes of White this time next year.

As we all know, from next season the ranking system changes from the old points-based routine to that of a money-earned regime.

So, when the rankings, and therefore the positions allocated to those who will earn their card for next season, are ratified in May, they will be determined by how much green a player has won over the previous two seasons.

At the moment, on this provisional list, Jimmy is not 59th but, worse yet, 63rd. (62nd taking into consideration Stephen Lee’s ban, who is technically still in the standings list for now and ahead of White.)

This leaves barely any room for error for the ‘Wind’ as the campaign approaches its midway point.

There are several avenues open to players regaining their Main Tour place for next season.

The most obvious, for those who are already long-term pros, is finishing inside the Top 64 in the money list. For now, Jimmy is safe here.

The back-up routes are by qualifying through the respective Order of Merits on the European and Asian Tours.

Considering White is not even in any way close to challenging for these positions magnifies what should already be transparent warning signs.

Allowing for the probable fact that he won’t qualify for the PTC Grand Finals, there are still ten tournaments left in the season for White to accumulate enough money to survive the cut.

What’s not helping his cause is the unfortunate scenario in which he has been forced to compete while carrying multiple injuries for the last number of months.

First, he underwent foot surgery to take care of a gout problem but his recovery has led to a change in stance, which has in turn put excessive strain on his cueing arm.

Therefore, one would have to think that White will be targeting the tournaments with the bigger prize funds – such as the upcoming UK Championship and end-of-season China Open and World Championship.

But this puts a serious weight of pressure on his shoulders to perform on those days.

If he doesn’t, his career as a professional, to the disappointment of so many fans, could be nearing its conclusion.

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