LEE Walker wants to use his success at the Coral Welsh Open as a springboard for the rest of the season and beyond, and that includes a return to the Crucible.

The 41-year-old Newbridge cueman made it the furthest of all 15 Welshmen competing in Cardiff this week.

Victories over Rhys Clark and former world champions Neil Robertson and Graeme Dott gave Walker a chance to reach the quarter-finals on Thursday night.

However, China’s Zhou Yuelong, 19, was too good for him and ran out a 4-0 winner in the best-of-seven last 16 encounter.

Walker was understandably disappointed to bow out of his home tournament in the manner he did, yet he could take a lot of heart from his performances in the previous rounds.

“On the whole, it has been a great week, very positive,” he said. “Hopefully I can take that into the rest of the season and next season.

“I’m not worried about playing anyone, I know that if I play well I can beat anyone, I’ve always known that.”

He added: “Everything now is geared towards the World Championships and I’ll be trying to put in as much practice as I can to qualify.

“I’ve played there a few times and to get back there would round off a decent season.”

Walker was 21 when he beat Dave Harold and Alan McManus to reach the last eight of the worlds in 1997.

He lost 13-8 to Alain Robidoux in the quarter-finals but returned to the Crucible seven years later and got to the second round before losing 13-5 to David Gray.

“The fact I got to the quarter-finals of the worlds 20 years ago is quite scary really,” he said.

“I had a pretty good junior and amateur career, winning pretty much everything really, and within three seasons I was in the quarters of the worlds.

"I thought to myself ‘you’re going to do very, very well’. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite materialise for whatever reason.”

Walker returned to snooker’s main tour in 2014 after a six-year hiatus and is thrilled to be back in the mix at ranking events.

The Welsh Open at the Motorpoint Arena comes to a conclusion tomorrow.