HOT-shot Andrew Pagett has regained his World Snooker professional tour card for the next two years after taking a chance and jetting off to Portugal to compete in the European Amateur Championships before the coronavirus lockdown.

The Caerphilly-based 37-year-old, who practices at Darren Morgan's Red Triangle Club in Cross Keys, believes he is hitting his peak in the game after a successful campaign on the second-tier Challenge Tour.

Dozens of players withdrew from the European Billiards and Snooker Association's world tournament as the virus began to take hold in the third week of March.

But, with this being one of the few sporting events going ahead at the time and after a phone call to Morgan, who was out at the tournament, father-of-two Pagett decided to go.

His victory in Portugal means the end of a five-year exile from the main professional tour.

South Wales Argus:

He said: “It was a risk we all had to take to go out to Portugal and compete because of what's happening at the moment.

“It was a big decision and I was not going to go but when Darren rang me and said definitely to turn up, I went.”

And he said there was a purpose for the risk.

“I just went out for the tour card. It was not about the title or anything else, it was to get that two-year card,” said Pagett.

The former Blackwood-based potter won through his group to play Finland's Heikki Niva in the final of the tournament and won the match 5-2.

Pagett, who has a new manager in Tom Cosens of TCL Management and is backed by Bryn Meadows Golf Club, could have gained an automatic professional tour place by topping the Challenge Tour Order of Merit but a dip in form saw him fall back from there.

South Wales Argus:

Winning the World Amateur Championships meant he would be nominated for a place on the main pro circuit and now he has been told his five-year exile from the big time circuit is over.

Pagett said: “I had an email off World Snooker confirming my two year card. I am definitely on there.

“I have been playing really well. I was on top of the Challenge Tour for most of the year and got pipped at the end.

“But this one now takes the pressure off so I don't have to go to the Q School to qualify for a tour ticket.

“Now I've got a good team around me and I have never wanted this so much as now. I cannot wait to get on the tour and just trying to get up the rankings.”

He was working on his game at triple world champion Mark Williams' club in Tredegar but moved down to the Red Triangle to get more practice time.

But during the current lockdown, Pagett has managed to pick up a new skill: “I couldn't cook beans on toast before but now I'm making curries and all sorts.”