Stuart Bingham became the highest big name casualty as the new Scottish Open got under way on Monday.
The world no.2 knocked in a brace of centuries, the latter a 116, to force a decider with Mark Joyce but lost a close final frame to his fellow Englishman to bow out in the first round.
It marks a second successive early exit in a ranking event for Bingham after his second round defeat in the recent UK Championship in York.
The 40 year-old represented just about the only major upset on day one in Glasgow, though, as all of the other marquee names safely advanced.
The only other higher ranked player to be taken the distance was Bingham’s old foe Mark Allen.
The Northern Irishman fought back from 3-0 down to deny Christopher Keogan in an equally tight finish.
Meanwhile, home hopeful John Higgins comfortably overcame compatriot and close pal Alan McManus 4-1 to book his spot in the last 64.
Higgins, a 7/1 third favourite with Sun Bets, is looking to end 2016 on a high by capturing a title on home soil.
The 41 year-old, of course, will already be enjoying a nice Christmas after earning well over £300,000 in a bumper November which saw him triumph in two lucrative invitational tournaments.
The ‘Wizard of Wishaw’ will likely face competition from the likes of Judd Trump, Mark Williams, Barry Hawkins, Kyren Wilson and Marco Fu – who all overcame their first hurdles with ease.
Glasgow’s own Anthony McGill similarly progressed unscathed with a 4-1 victory over John Astley, albeit after being moved to an outside table when the inevitable backlog of matches on the TV tables occurred.
Other Scots Rhys Clark and Scott Donaldson also recorded wins to ensure that Higgins doesn’t have to carry the weight of home expectation on his shoulders alone.
Elsewhere, Northern Ireland Open champion Mark King scored heavily as he routed Kurt Dunham 4-0.
Welshman Michael White was even more ruthless, keeping opponent Cao Yupeng scoreless for the first three frames with runs of 112, 132 and 92 before sealing another whitewash drubbing.
It was disappointment, though, for Irish duo Ken Doherty and Josh Boileau.
Doherty was defeated heavily by Matthew Stevens to compound the Dubliner’s misery in the world rankings.
It seems like it is only a matter of time now before the 1997 world champion drops out of the top 64, where automatic qualification for a future Main Tour card is guaranteed.
Boileau managed to muster a better challenge but still ultimately fell short in a deciding frame loss to Yu Delu.
The European Under-21 amateur champion has struggled to adapt to the professional circuit since joining for his rookie campaign in May.
Among the others to make it through their initial obstacle were Ricky Walden, Michael Holt, Kurt Maflin and Oliver Lines.
The last 128 will reach its conclusion on Tuesday when the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Neil Robertson and Liang Wenbo enter the fray.
Coverage continues on Eurosport and Quest TV.
Categories: Snooker News