Grace, from Leeds, is ranked 44th in the world and has enjoyed the best form of his career over the past two years, with many of his best performances coming on local turf. In 2015 he reached the semi-finals of the UK Championship in York, and this year he qualified for the final stages of the World Championship in Sheffield for the first time.
So the 32-year-old hopes that the English Open moving from Manchester to the Barnsley Metrodome will set him up for more success in front of his home fans.
The English Open is the first of the season’s Home Nations series and if any player wins all four events they will pocket a massive £1 million bonus, so top stars like Mark Selby, John Higgins, Judd Trump and Ronnie O’Sullivan are all expected to be there in Barnsley.
The Eurosport-televised tournament will run from October 16 to 22 with 128 of the world’s best potters competing for the £70,000 top prize.
“It’s not deliberate that I tend to do well in Yorkshire, but it is probably not a coincidence,” said Grace. “It is just a nice place for me to play. I can invite a lot of family and friends to come down and watch which is a big help. And we do a lot of travelling on the tour so it’s great to have a week where I can stay at home.
“It is fantastic to have a big tournament in Barnsley for the first time. Yorkshire is the home of snooker. The fans always turn out in big numbers and I’m sure they will do the same and come down to support the event.”
Grace practises at the Northern Snooker Centre in Leeds. He also has a job there ironing the tables, and organises regular pro-am tournaments to keep the local snooker scene thriving.
“We are lucky to have an absolutely fantastic club in the Northern,” he said. “The events get people coming along for a go, but at the same time a lot of professional players compete. I’ve always enjoyed organising tournaments and I want to see people have a good day out playing snooker. When I was a junior, playing in those events was such a special buzz, you look forward to it all month. I want to give amateur players the same sort of feeling.”
In a bid to improve his health, Grace has lost six stone over the past 18 months, and feels that can only benefit his snooker career.
“I was probably at my biggest when I got to the semi-finals of the UK Championship,” he recalls. “I look back at the photos and realise that. This year I bumped into John Parrott at the Crucible and he didn’t speak to me. When I saw him the next morning he apologised as he didn’t recognise me. Little things like that are nice.
“My wife and I were getting married in April last year and that is why we started, and we’ve just kept it up. We go to the Slimming World groups every week and it does the trick. It really does work.”
Tickets for the English Open are on sale now and take advantage of a SPECIAL OPENING OFFER with all-day tickets to the first four days of the tournament costing just £10 each! This gives fans the chance to see a wide range of players on multiple tables throughout the day. This offer will not last long and is subject to availability. All-day tickets for the final cost £55 and they are expected to sell out rapidly.
http://www.worldsnooker.com/snookers-en ... ing-grace/
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