Jimmy White has reached the last 16 of a European Tour event for the first time in almost two years at the Paul Hunter Classic in Germany.
The ‘Whirlwind’, who won just one match all of last season, has undergone a diet over recent months leading to the 54 year-old losing several stone in weight.
The 10-time ranking event winner hit headlines last week after footage of him compiling a 147 in practice made its way online, and he has clearly carried that form onto the match table with three wins in Furth sending him into the fourth round.
White is languishing near the bottom of the world rankings and, as he is in his second of a two-year card, there is a distinct threat that this could be the end of 37 consecutive years playing professionally.
It’s unlikely that the six-time World Championship runner-up will earn enough money to break back inside the world’s top 64, where a tour ticket is guaranteed for the upcoming campaign, but there are other avenues open to the Londoner.
The eight top-earners in a one year list who are ranked outside the top 64 will be invited back, so every extra victory will be of utmost importance.
Of course, as the People’s Champion, White will always be in the running for any wild card positions that become available – such as were given to Steve Davis and offered to Stephen Hendry in the past – but he would rather survive by his efforts on the table now, rather than on merits he achieved in the past.
White said last week: “I intend to keep my place on the tour for at least another few seasons and that’s my goal.”
“I don’t want to have to rely on getting a wild card. I have never lost my love for snooker, I’m still working hard at it and I believe I’ve still got it in me.
“I beat Ali Carter in the Indian Open qualifiers earlier this season and then he went on to win the next tournament in China. There are so many great players now that it’s tough to win matches, but I can still do it.
“I feel the best I have for a long time because I have lost a lot of weight by watching what I eat. I’m doing exhibitions all the time, travelling around the country, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of eating badly. So I have been careful for the past few months and it has worked. I plan to keep going and lose more.”
White recorded triumphs over Jamie Barrett, Xiao Guodong and Rod Lawler on Friday to set up a Sunday meeting with namesake Michael White, where a place in the quarter-finals will be at stake.
Elsewhere, world champion Mark Selby withstood a spirited comeback from James Cahill to reach the fourth round on a decider, while Liam Highfield also won his third round tie via a dramatic conclusion.
The Englishman was taken all the way to a re-spotted black by Ricky Walden but doubled the final ball for a tense victory.
Young Chinese teenager Yan Bingtao ended Ali Carter’s hot streak, with the World Open champion losing 4-3 to the 16 year-old.
Dominic Dale, Mark Davis and Sam Baird made up the eight players who emerged from the top half of the draw.
The other side will contest their opening bouts on Saturday with the likes of Stuart Bingham, Mark Allen and Anthony McGill entering the fold.