Testing times for tour rookie Keogan after O’Sullivan loss

Snooker player Chris Keogan from Sprotbrough, Doncaster, is sponsored by Club Doncaster.
Snooker player Chris Keogan from Sprotbrough, Doncaster, is sponsored by Club Doncaster.
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Doncaster rookie Chris Keogan has had a tough baptism to life as a professional snooker player.

The 25-year-old is in his second season turning professional and his last victory came in June at the Riga Masters.

On Friday he was whitewashed 5-0 in his encounter with five-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan in the Shanghai Masters qualifiers in Wigan to continue that miserable run.

And it does not get any easier for Keogan, the Dafabet English Open draw being unkind when he was paired with world No 2 Ding Junhui in next Tuesday’s first-round meeting at the Barnsley Metrodome.

“It is what it is, isn’t it?” said Keogan. “I’ve just got to concentrate on what I do.

“I played Ding about four years ago as a Cue School top-up wild card player but I’ve come a long way since then. Hopefully I can do better than I did in that game.

“I’ve just got to treat them as any other game, take each frame as it comes and see where it ends up. That’s the best approach for me. I feel good at the moment. I put in a solid performance against Mark King about two weeks ago. Unfortunately I lost 6-4 but there were positives to take from that match.

“It’s tough on the circuit and you have to be so well prepared for each match. I’m still learning but I need some wins now.”

At least Keogan will not have to travel far on Tuesday for his televised game, as Barnsley hosts its first ranking tournament.

The English Open – with a £70,000 top prize – was staged in Manchester last season, and dangles a £1m carrot for any player who can win all four Home Nations events.

All 131 players will be in action on Monday and Tuesday, with seven tables in the arena.

O’Sullivan is in action on Tuesday evening, when he plays either Ian Burns or Zhang Anda.

The draw for Barnsley has not been kind to several Yorkshire players, all paired with top 16 opposition. Leeds potter Peter Lines, the current World Seniors champion, plays world No 7 Barry Hawkins on Monday afternoon, while son Oliver faces world No 13 Ali Carter a few hours later.

Two-time world champion Mark Williams stands in David Grace’s way, the Leeds potter having lost 5-1 to Wang Yuchen in the Shanghai qualifiers.

Grace said: “I got a 127 in the only frame I won. It was never a 5-1 scoreline. I am looking forward to Barnsley, the travelling does take it out of you, to places like China. I am looking forward to playing Mark Williams, you look around at all the players, and there are no easy matches.”

Dafabet as the new sponsor of the English Open, the first of the 2017-18 season Home Nations series.

World Champion Mark Selby, defending champion Liang Wenbo, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, John Higgins, Shaun Murphy, Neil Robertson and Ding Junhui will be among the 131 players chasing the £70,000 top prize and Steve Davis Trophy. China’s Liang beat Trump 9-6 in the final last year.

The English Open will be followed by Home Nations events in Belfast, Glasgow and Cardiff, and any player winning all four will land an unprecedented £1 million bonus.

There’s also a bonus of £40,000 up for grabs for anyone who can make a maximum 147 break during the week in Barnsley.

World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn said: “We are thrilled to welcome Dafabet on board for this highly prestigious world ranking event. Dafabet have shown tremendous support for snooker having sponsored a range of events including the Masters.

“The tournament will be televised live to many millions of people on Eurosport and Quest, bringing outstanding exposure for Dafabet’s brand.

“I’m pleased to see such a strong field heading to Barnsley, the standard is higher than ever and I’m fascinated to see how the week unfolds. The last man standing will be a quarter of the way towards the £1 million bonus.

“I hope to see packed crowds enjoying the chance to see the world’s very best cueists showing their skills.”

Dafabet’s Head of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship John Cruces said: “We’re very happy to be title sponsors for another tournament in the World Snooker calendar to complement our long standing Masters partnership. Year on year the following of the sport grows worldwide, which helps put our brand in front of millions of sports fans across the globe. We wish all the players the best of luck and wait to see if someone can do the clean sweep of the Home Nation events and win the million pound bonus.”

Tickets are still available for the Dafabet English Open and with all 131 players in action over the first two days (Monday October 16 and Tuesday October 17) and with seven tables in the arena.

Tickets are available by callng 0871 620 7052 or visit www.worldsnooker.com/tickets