Ken Doherty and Jimmy White Reach Riga

Ken Doherty and Jimmy White advanced to the main draw of the Riga Masters after coming through qualifying on the opening day of the 2017/18 season in Preston.

Ken Doherty Jimmy White (ML)
White and Doherty received the invitational tour cards because of their successes in the sport. Photo credit: Monique Limbos

The pair had both fallen off the Main Tour at the end of the last campaign, but each received a reprieve from World Snooker in the form of two-year invitational tour cards.

The duo isn’t guaranteed to be able to enter every tournament, but can do so when the 128 total isn’t met by the other professional card holders.

With several of the top 16 players choosing to opt out of Riga, the two legends made the most of their early opportunity to make use of their lifelines.

White emerged in a hard-fought seven-frame thriller with Jak Jones which went the distance while Doherty won the last three frames in clinching a 4-2 victory over fellow veteran Peter Lines.

Former world champion Stuart Bingham dusted off the cobwebs before seeing off Li Hang 4-1, in what was an awful day for the Chinese contingent at the Guild Hall.

With Yu Delu and Li Yuan withdrawing, Li’s defeat to “Ballrun” was matched by Yan Bingtao’s loss Andrew Higginson and Zhao Xintong’s bagel against Mark Davis.

Amateur Hu Hao also went down 4-2 to Gary Wilson, as Zhang Anda was the sole winner from China after he edged Allan Taylor by the same margin, helped by a final frame run of 124.

Norway’s Kurt Maflin won the first frame of the new term and duly recorded the first upset of note as he pipped Martin Gould in a decider 4-3.

The 33 year-old additionally boasts the current highest break with his 127 effort in the third frame.

Just before Maflin’s success, Stuart Carrington became the first winner of the season as he routed rookie Ashley Hugill 4-0, while Michael Georgiou subsequently downed another Q School graduate in Sanderson Lam 4-1.

It was a disappointing day for Ireland’s Fergal O’Brien and Josh Boileau, with neither able to secure their progress to Latvia.

O’Brien lost a tight fifth frame on the black which effectively sealed his fate in a 4-2 loss to Jamie Jones.

Boileau, meanwhile, was soundly beaten 4-0 by Robin Hull and will have to improve quickly if he’s to extend his stay on the Main Tour beyond his current two-year stint.

Elsewhere, Alan McManus and Matthew Stevens put early triumphs on the board – the latter despite all of his recent cue woes which must have come as a major distraction to the Welshman.

Eden Sharav came from 3-0 down to overturn Thor Chuan Leong in a decider, matching Sam Craigie and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh’s 4-3 successes over Soheil Vahedi and Ian Preece respectively.

Jamie Barrett and John Astley required all seven frames as well, while Tom Ford and Jimmy Robertson managed to avoid nail-biting conclusions with 4-2 victories.

Robertson’s was an especially impressive performance as he reeled off breaks of 132, 109, 89, and 51 in dispatching of Martin O’Donnell.

On Thursday, Barry Hawkins, Stephen Maguire, and Ryan Day are among those in action.

Click here to view the draw.

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