No sooner had the Indian Open qualifiers wrapped up at the Guild Hall, the next preliminaries were straight under way with the last 128 of the European Masters on Thursday.
Ken Doherty maintained his wonderful start to the campaign with another eye-catching victory, backing up his win earlier this week against Ali Carter with a 4-3 defeat of another top 16 cueist in Barry Hawkins.
It means the Irishman has still only lost one match this summer since he was awarded an invitational tour card after he dropped off the circuit in April.
That loss came in the 47 year-old’s surprise run to the semi-finals of the Riga Masters and his fine form has already provided him with more money than his entire last campaign.
Doherty will head to Lommel for the first ranking event to be staged in Belgium in over two decades full of renewed confidence in his game and a trademark ability to grind out results.
Fellow invitational tour card holder Jimmy White wasn’t as successful, though, missing out on a place in a deciding frame loss to rookie Billy Joe Castle.
Aside from the Hawk’s exit, there weren’t too many upsets of note to speak of on the third day of qualifying action in Preston.
Hong Kong Masters champion Neil Robertson and World Games gold medallist Kyren Wilson eased through with relatively comfortable outings.
Veterans Anthony Hamilton and Mark King, who both joined the elite band of ranking event champions last term, also progressed with triumphs over David John and Kurt Maflin respectively.
Both King and especially Hamilton will be eyeing a return to the top 16 this season with the latter boasting the pretty position of having zero ranking points to defend from now until next May.
Meanwhile, former world champion Peter Ebdon and his fellow Englishman Martin Gould both put the disappointment of defeats in the Indian Open qualifiers behind them with wins against Akani Songsermsawad and Duane Jones.
Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen fired in runs of 91 and 75 as he beat Daniel Wells while Michael Holt, Ben Woollaston, and David Gilbert also advanced.
It was a mixed day for the Chinese contingent with Yan Bingtao, Zhao Xintong, Cao Yupeng, Fang Xiongman, Chen Zifan, Yuan Sijun, and Zhang Yong all managing to book their flights to Belgium in early October.
Xu Si, Wang Yuchen, and Hu Hao all bowed out, however, the latter in a 4-1 loss to Noppon Saengkham who compiled the joint highest break of the day with a 130.
Jimmy Robertson constructed the other 130 century but was downed 4-3 by Sam Baird while among the other players to be successful were Alan McManus, Hossein Vafaei, and Aditya Mehta.
On Friday, John Higgins, Shaun Murphy, and Ryan Day will play their qualifying encounters.