The first round of the Bulgarian Open gets under way today in Sofia.
The preliminary amateur stage has already taken place over the last couple of days with the draw for the last 128 now complete.
Irish duo Josh Boileau and TJ Dowling both won their two matches to earn their chance to mix it up with the professionals in this, the third European Tour event of the season.
Boileau easily outpointed a pair of Belgians to the loss of only one frame while Dowling, after a comfortable 4-0 success over Farhan Mirza in his opening bout, overcame 10-time world ladies champion Reanne Evans in a decider 4-3.
John Sutton, meanwhile, was unable to bounce back from his unwanted headlines last week as he succumbed to a 4-2 defeat at the hands of England’s Luke Garland.
Boileau’s reward for reaching the first round is a meeting with fellow youngster Kyren Wilson, a player who qualified for the World Championship for the first time in April.
Two-time Irish national champion Dowling plays the out-of-form Jamie Cope, who could be set to face an unexpected battle to remain on the tour this season after a dramatic slide down the rankings in recent years.
Dubliners Fergal O’Brien and Ken Doherty are also going to be in action against Ahmed Saif and Gary Wilson respectively but Kilkenny’s David Morris decided not to enter due to a recent back injury he sustained in the gym.
Fan favourites Ronnie O’Sullivan, Ding Junhui and Mark Allen are also missing but the likes of world champion Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, Judd Trump and Shaun Murphy will be there to entertain the excellent crowds in Bulgaria, a country which is now hosting a Players Championship event for the third campaign on the trot.
With only six European Tour events on the calendar this year, the players will be desperate to get money on the Order of Merit and thus gain their invite to the lucrative Grand Finals in 2015.
I am sorry, but… the man on the photo it’s not Dowling. It is me…
I’ve fixed that now. Sorry about that, Nikola.