O’Brien Out of World Grand Prix Running

Fergal O’Brien failed in his bid to qualify for the World Grand Prix as he lost in the third round of the Gdynia Open in Poland on Friday.

O'Brien was just £83 behind Michael Holt in 32nd place - photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.
O’Brien was just £83 behind Michael Holt in 32nd place – photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.

The Irishman is left agonisingly placed at 33rd in the one-year money list, with only the top 32 players gaining an invite into the inaugural competition in Llandudno next month.

However, O’Brien currently remains 23rd in the Europe Order of Merit standings, and faces an anxious wait to see if he will earn one of the 24 spots available for the lucrative Players Championship Grand Finals in Bangkok.

The 42 year-old began the day well with a brace of 4-1 victories of Lu Chenwei and Ryan Day, but fell short against England’s Martin Gould, who compiled runs of 111 and 106 in a 4-2 win over the Dubliner and thus set up a clash with countryman Jimmy Robertson.

Meanwhile, Liam Highfield reached the last 16 of a European Tour event for the first time since 2011 after impressive triumphs over Ian Glover, Stuart Bingham and world champion Mark Selby.

The 25 year-old, who returned to the Main Tour this season via Q-School having dropped off the circuit last year, held his nerve in the decider for a memorable win over the Crucible king.

Highfield will meet Mark Williams for a place in the quarter-finals on Sunday after the Welshman eased through his opening three rounds to the loss of only two frames.

Elsewhere, Belgium’s Luca Brecel continued his good run of form that saw him reach the semi-finals of the Welsh Open last week, earning victories over Hammad Miah, Igor Figueiredo and Alex Davies to land a last 16 tie against Stuart Carrington.

Carrington did himself a lot of favours in his quest to remain on the Main Tour next season, with his wins over Richard Beckham, Steven Hallworth and Ross Muir sending him up into the top 8 positions on the Order of Merit of those ranked outside the top 64 in the world who will gain a two-year tour card for the next campaign.

Finally, Joe Perry and David Gilbert earned fourth round berths with 4-1 successes over Anthony McGill and Liang Wenbo respectively.

Saturday will see the top half of the draw whittled down before the remaining four rounds are completed on Sunday, with a the third Gdynia Open champion being crowned.

If you’re interested in following the tour survival permutations more closely, along with the competitor’s efforts to reach the Grand Finals and World Grand Prix in March, Matt over at ProSnookerBlog is covering that extensively here.

For the full draw click here.

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