David Morris booked another flight to the Far East as he qualified for the China Open in Beijing with an excellent 5-1 victory over Mark Davis on Monday.
The Kilkenny cueist had already reached the final stages of the Wuxi Classic at the outset of the campaign, where he went on to reach his maiden ranking event quarter-final, and he will also feature in the upcoming Haikou World Open next month.
His last eight appearance in Wuxi was the foundation for what has been an excellent season for the 25 year-old on his return to the Main Tour.
Morris also reached the last 16 of the UK Championship while solid performances elsewhere have ensured that, despite starting the campaign from scratch, the Irishman could potentially finish it inside the world’s top 64.
Top 16 player Davis is another scalp to add to the likes of Judd Trump, Ali Carter, Stuart Bingham and Peter Ebdon that Morris has already defeated over the past year.
Davis took the opening frame but it was one-way traffic thereafter as Morris leveled with a 118 before runs of 62 and 44 helped him progress to the last 64 in China.
February has been a decent month so far for Irish snooker following Fergal O’Brien’s appearance in the final of the Gdynia Open last week and fellow Dubliner Ken Doherty joined in the fun as he ran out a 5-1 champion over Andrew Norman.
The 1997 world champion has actually struggled for most of the season but he was in good form against his inexperienced opponent, with top breaks of 107, 97 and 72.
Given Morris’ form this season his success over a player ranked dozens of places higher than him doesn’t necessarily equate to a shock but it arguably ranked as one of the bigger upsets in what was a rather formulaic day.
Tony Drago, with a lot of work to do to safeguard his membership to the circuit for next season, enjoyed one of his best victories in a while with a 5-3 win over Andrew Higginson while fellow stalwart Barry Pinches recorded the same scoreline over Martin Gould.
Likewise Mike Dunn, who won the last two frames to overcome Tom Ford in a decider and maintain his quest to remain on the tour.
The bigger names had no such problems.
Trump whitewashed Elliot Slessor, Bingham and Stephen Maguire saw off Allan Taylor and Chris Wakelin 5-2 respectively, and form man Shaun Murphy also progressed, although not easily as he needed all nine frames to dispatch of Adam Duffy.
Fellow top 16ers Marco Fu and Ricky Walden enjoyed victories of their own while Michael Holt, Mark King and Michael White booked their flights out east.
Belgium young hotshot Luca Brecel, having a quiet campaign by all accounts, fared better this time with a 5-3 win over Jamie Burnett while Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh easily overcame Ben Woollaston 5-1.
China’s Liu Chuang added to the growing list of players who wont be competing on home soil by going down 5-2 to Sam Baird but countrymen Tian Pengfei and Li Hang ensured there’ll be some Chinese representation with a brace of victories – the main man Ding Junhui has his opening encounter on Tuesday.
Elsewhere, Englishmen Nigel Bond, John Astley, Alfie Burden, Craig Steadman and Hammad Miah all emerged unscathed while India’s Aditya Mehta beat Swiss Alexander Ursenbacher 5-2.