Grateful for a summer job
The first event of the Players Tour Championship starts next week at the Sheffield Academy. It will be strange playing a tournament in July that’s not in China or Europe, but I can’t wait for it to start – even though I don’t quite know what to expect.
I know there’s a decent turnout for it, and you would think there ought to be. We’ve been crying out for more tournaments, it’s what we want and now we’ve got them, so I expect them to be well supported. I for one intend to enter all of the PTC events.
Each match is a short format, the best of seven frames, so there are bound to be plenty of upsets. But it’s going to be entertaining, and it gives the players valuable match-practice. Some probably suffered last season because we only had seven tournaments, they weren’t playing regularly enough and that affects your game. But that shouldn’t be an issue now, so it’s in every player’s interests to take part, especially as we’re playing for ranking points as well. They’re also performance-related, so we’re being made to work for our money, which is very much a good thing.
Barry Hearn is now firmly installed as the man in charge and he’s full of ideas on how to improve snooker, the PTC being one of the first. We’ve definitely got the right man behind us.
You cannot have escaped the fact that the World Cup is very much under way in South Africa. I watched the England game against the USA and, while I didn’t think the performance was very good, I was happy with the draw. I think we’ll beat Algeria in our next game on Friday and then win against Slovenia to make it into the second round, then we can take it from there.
It hasn’t been the best of starts to the tournament for any of the teams, although I thought Germany looked good against Australia. Switzerland beating Spain was a big shock, especially for Jose who owns the club I practise at! He’s from Spain and he’s had to deal with a bit of stick from some of the lads. He said he wanted to paint a Spanish flag on the ceiling of the club but we all told him it should be a Swiss flag instead! He wasn’t very happy!
I took part in a darts exhibition last week which involved Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor and Jamie Caven, a pro from Leicester.
I played one leg of 501 against Phil and, predictably, I lost. I also played two legs against Jamie and, even though I lost both, I gave a good account of myself, hitting a couple of 140s and a 100.
Taylor is a legend and we spoke quite a bit on the night, it’s the first time I’ve ever been able to have a proper chat with him. I’m going to spend a day with him soon, see what makes him tick and how he does things. You can’t argue with his list of achievements and his mindset towards the game, so it will be interesting to see what he does and I’m sure I can learn something from him.
He gave me a set of darts and I gave him a cue, and I want to return the favour and play him at snooker – a chance to get some revenge! I’ve heard he’s pretty good on the snooker table so that’s something else we’ll have to fix up. Watch this space.
It’s my birthday on Saturday and I will be 27. I haven’t got anything special planned, I think I will just do something quiet with Vikki. I don’t get excited about birthdays any more, I’d prefer it if I was getting younger!
But without wanting to get too deep on you, it’s given me a chance to take stock of where I am in life. When I started out as a pro, I said if I was still battling to make it at 26 or 27, struggling to qualify for tournaments, then I would knock it on the head. Thankfully I’ve reached most of my goals – I’m in the top 16, I’ve won tournaments and I’m a regular contender, so I think I’ll be carrying on for a bit longer yet! And as far as my personal life goes, these are good times. I’m in a good place at the moment.
My last word is on the state of my golf. Last time I played I went round 18 holes in 123, and you’d think it couldn’t get any worse than that. I played yesterday with my mate Ady, who’s a decent player and went round in 95. But as for me, it was so bad that I gave up counting after the first nine holes! I think I need some lessons...
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