Rocket suffers shock reverse

DESPITE beating a hasty retreat following his surprise 4-1 defeat by Xiao Guadong at the PTC Snooker event in Killarney yesterday, Ronnie O’Sullivan’s recent comments about feeling ‘raped’ and ‘blackmailed’ into playing a lot of the World Snooker events at moment were a hot topic of conversation at the INEC.

Responding to the sense of feeling ‘blackmailed’ into playing PTC events, seven-times world champion Stephen Hendry said he agreed with O’Sullivan that the events were too ‘top heavy’ on ranking points. “I do think it’s great the fact that there are more tournaments for players to play in but I do think there are too many ranking points going with these tournaments considering how little money there is to win,” the Scot said.

He feels the sport is approaching a ‘crossroads’ in some respects. “We have got to get the ‘bums on the seats’ and if Ronnie can’t put ‘bums on seats’ no one will. We’ve 30 or 40 events this year which means there’s no shortage of snooker but while that’s fine for the younger players with no family or ties there are some players who don’t want to be travelling ‘here, there and everywhere’ every single week. But, as Ronnie said, we have to or else we’ll be punished heavily with the ranking situation,” Hendry said.

He stressed that he was happy to travel to Killarney however. “This is a nice place to come so whatever happens me and my wife will enjoy our time in Ireland.”

PTC Killarney promoter Connie O’Sullivan said he was not upset by O’Sullivan’s comments. “Ronnie is one of the lucky ones in that he doesn’t have to earn a living from snooker anymore but the vast majority of the players here this weekend are delighted with the opportunity to earn some ranking points as well as some money. Look at Golf, there are golf tournaments every week and the big players have to mix it with small players. If they don’t want to turn up they don’t have to but their ranking will fall. That’s the beauty of the PTC’s. The big players had it so good for so long, their place was protected in the top 16 but now that they have to earn their keep they are not so happy. Talk to the hundreds of young players here this weekend, they’ll tell you there’s nothing wrong with the system,” the Killarney native said.

As well as O’Sullivan’s loss, former two-time world champion Mark Williams was the other big casualty yesterday, losing out to Thailand’s James Wattana.

Today sees 1997 world champion Ken Doherty in action, along with another top Irish player, Tipperary’s David Hogan, who comes up against World Masters champion Jimmy White. Former six-time world champion Steve Davis’s match with 2005 world champion Shaun Murphy is probably the standout tie, with some of the other big names in action today including Stephen Lee, Graeme Dott, Mark Selby and Judd Trump.

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