Michael Holt, fresh from a coaching assignment in the Middle East, beat local favourite Chris Small 5-3 to reach the second round of the Regal Scottish Open in Edinburgh today.
Holt, the world number 35 from Nottingham, has just returned from Dubai where he spent 10 days practising with two of the Arab state’s leading players.
And the intensive sessions clearly paid off as Holt knocked out Small, who lives just half an hour from the venue.
“I practised more over there than I ever would have done here,” Holt admitted.
“I was doing six hours a day with two of their players. They wanted some practie to improve.
“It was a great experience and the weather was red-hot. I wouldn’t mind going out to join them in the future because there’s a lot of money out there.
“The only thing that disappointed me was the Dubai World Cup horse racing. They don’t bet out there so there wasn’t much atmosphere – you get a better crowd reaction at Nottingham dogs.”
Holt stormed into a 3-0 lead with runs of 61, 64 and 94 before Small, the LG Cup champion, recovered to 3-3 with efforts of 94 and 62.
A break of 44 helped Holt edge 4-3 ahead and he dominated the eighth as well to set up a second round meeting with Mark Williams, the reigning UK Championship and Masters champion.
For Leith-based Small, the defeat is all the more disappointing because it came in front of friends and family.
“I only live half an hour away but I checked myself into a hotel the night before the match because I wanted to do everything the same as I would if I was away from home,” he said.
“I wanted everything to be normal and gave it my all but it just wasn’t good enough.”
Ali Carter, who is closing in on a place in the elite top 16, improved his chances by thrashing Stockport’s Nick Dyson 5-1.
Carter, 20th in the latest provisional standings, pinched the first frame on the black and made breaks of 90, 56 and 46 in easing to victory.
“I felt a lot stronger as the match went on,” he said. “I know I’m close to the top 16 but I can’t afford to look at that.
“I know if I can carry on playing the way I am I’ve got a good chance.”
Thailand number one James Wattana doubled the black as he completed a colours clearance to edge Iceland’s Kristjan Helgason 5-4.