SNOOKER’S amateur sensation Mitchell Travis hopes to beat his idol Ronnie O’Sullivan when they meet in the BetVictor Welsh Open this month.
Sheffield’s 22-year-old Travis proved a giant-killer at December’s UK Championship when he knocked out world number six Marco Fu as well as Kurt Maflin to reach the third round. And he now hopes for more glory having been pitched against World and Masters champion O’Sullivan in the last 128 at the Newport Centre.
The match will take place in the evening session of the opening day of the tournament, Wednesday February 19. The £300,000 world ranking event runs until Sunday March 2.
“Ronnie’s the one player I have always wanted to play,” said Travis, who is not on the professional tour but has gained a place in several ranking events this season thanks to his results in 2013 Q School.
“When the draw came out I was scrolling down it and I couldn’t see my name or Ronnie’s. Then when I got to the bottom and saw we’d been drawn together, I couldn’t believe it. I put a message on Facebook, and within a few hours I had over 150 ‘likes’ and a lot of comments.
“I watched Ronnie on TV at the Masters and he made the others look like novices. But if I play well I’ve got a chance and I have proved I can live with the top players. My confidence is through the roof at the moment and I will feel like I did at the UK – I’ll enjoy myself and I’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
Travis has given up his job in a call centre and is now focussed on snooker, though he has kept his weekend bar job. “There are so many opportunities in snooker these days, I am putting 100 per cent into it now,” he added. “I’m planning to play in Q School in May and hopefully I’ll be on the tour next season.”
There are ten Welsh players in the event, including Mark Williams who faces Michael Wasley on the afternoon of Saturday February 22, and Matthew Stevens who meets Adam Wicheard on the afternoon of Wednesday February 19.
Other top stars competing for the title will include Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, John Higgins, Judd Trump, Jimmy White, Steve Davis, Shaun Murphy and defending champion Stephen Maguire.
Tickets for the tournament are ON SALE NOW and fans are strongly advised to book fast as many sessions are expected to sell out quickly. For full details call 01633 656 757 or visit www.worldsnooker.com/tickets
The BetVictor Welsh Open is supported by Newport City Council.