Snooker: Musselburgh ace bidding to make big time

Ross Muir. Picture: TSPL
Ross Muir. Picture: TSPL
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MUSSELBURGH’S Ross Muir hopes to build on last weekend’s victory in the Scottish National Championship as he cues up later today aiming to qualify for the professional World Snooker Tour as Q School gets underway at the World Snooker Academy in Sheffield.

The teenager warmed up for the biggest few weeks in his snooker career with a morale-boosting 7-4 victory over Glasgow’s Dylan Craig in the final of the Scottish National Snooker Championship at the Locarno Snooker Club in Edinburgh.

The former Musselburgh High pupil made the perfect start, winning the first five frames against the player ranked number two in Scotland, with a highest break of 57.

Craig fought back to win the sixth, then a fluked black reduced the deficit to 5-2 before winning the eighth frame to close the gap to 5-3. However, Craig missed a chance on the final blue in the ninth, enabling Muir to snatch the frame. Craig closed the gap once more to 6-4 but that was to be the end of the comeback as Muir won the 11th frame to clinch his first National Championship and guarantee a place in the World Amateur Championship later this year.

Muir said “I am absolutely delighted. It was a tough match but I made a great start and after that I felt in control. Since my victory, I have received a lot of congratulatory messages and it’s great to know I have a big local following. It really is a great boost”

Muir will be one of five Scots aiming to secure one of 12 places available on the professional World Snooker Tour when the Q School gets underway today. The places will be awarded to the four semi-finalists in each of three tournaments held over the next two weeks, so players have three chances to qualify.

Muir, who opens up against fellow Scot Ross Higgins tonight, added: “I will probably have to win five matches in one of the events to secure a main tour place. Any amateur player from anywhere in the world can play and there will also be professionals who dropped off the main tour last season so I know it will be tough.”

When Muir returns from Q-School, he will fly to Poland for the European Amateur Championship, which also offers a two-year pro-ticket. He will then return to Scotland to play in two more National finals – the Under-21 and Under-19 events. He added “It will be a busy period but this is what I have been preparing for. My form has just come at the right time and I feel my game has progressed a lot over the last couple of months due to now practising with Marcus Campbell, who has been great with me and I have learned so much from. I feel it won’t be very long before I make a big breakthrough in the professional ranks as I can see my game is closing in on a level good enough to compete on the pro tour.”

Muir’s victory was also good news for Granton’s Craig MacGillivray who finished the season ranked number one in Scotland after three main tour ranking event victories. MacGillivray is in action tomorrow at the Locarno when he appears in the final of the Scottish Masters National Championship against Stirling’s Jim Rushforth.