BetVictor Welsh Open champion Jordan Brown has enlisted the help of a mind coach to revive his form this season and going by his performances in Milton Keynes so far this week, that decision is paying off.
The Northern Irishman has enjoyed a superb run so far at the BetVictor European Masters, beating World Champion Mark Selby 5-3 and Xiao Guodong 5-0 on his way to today’s last 16, where he faces Graeme Dott. With the defence of his Welsh Open title coming up next week, it is the ideal time to find his best form.
Brown remarkably landed his maiden ranking title at last year’s Welsh Open as a 750-1 outsider. Having come from working in a petrol station just three years earlier, it was a story which captured the imagination of the public. He was ranked 81st in the world when he defeated the likes of Selby and Stephen Maguire to reach the title match, where he stunned Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-8.
However, the months which followed saw Brown struggle to carry forward his momentum. He subsequently suffered first round defeats at the Players Championship, Gibraltar Open and the World Championship and endured a shaky start to the current campaign.
The Antrim cueman started undergoing sessions with mind coach AP O’Neill, who also works with Jimmy Robertson, part of the way through the season. Brown believes O’Neill played a significant part in his form turning a corner. That started with a run to the last 16 of the UK Championship before Christmas and is now following that up with his showings in Milton Keynes this week.
Brown said: “I was introduced to him and thought it was worth a go to try something different. It’s paid dividends and I don’t think I’ve lost a first round match ever since. Onwards and upwards. We are working together closely to get my mind right and get my focus there again. I lost that focus in the first half of the season and I was all over the place. I’m putting that right now. We’ve covered a lot of ground. It was a struggle for a while and I was lost out there. You need to let your arm go and just play like you are in the club and I was unable to do that.
“I’ve been working hard back home and brushing up on the areas of my game that I was weakest at. I’ve showed that this week. I’ve been working on my safety especially. To beat a great player like Mark Selby, who is World Champion, it doesn’t get any tougher than that. It will give me the confidence I need and hopefully I can kick on now.”
Brown’s exploits in lifting the Ray Reardon Trophy 12 months ago earned him many fans and admirers. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic his moment of glory was held behind closed doors. Next week sees the return of fans to the Welsh Open for the first time in two years and 34-year-old Brown is relishing walking out as the defending champion against Mitchell Mann in round one.
“I’ve been looking forward to it for quite a while. It will be some buzz going back to where it all happened last year. It will be great to have a crowd back and be introduced as defending champion. It doesn’t get much better than that. It is something I’m working really hard for and I’m looking forward to heading to Newport.
“It is new territory. It is something I’ve never experienced before. The only time I have experienced it is in defending an amateur event back home but this is a different ball game. It is going to be a bit of a weird feeling but its something I am aware of and I’m going to be prepared for.
“Last year I didn’t have that chance to celebrate properly. In normal times you always see title winners giving family members a hug by the table. I didn’t have that chance last year. That was my only regret, but there wasn’t anything I could have done about it and we were all in the same boat. Hopefully I can win again and get that chance again. I want to defend the Welsh Open title but I know it is going to be hard, but I will be giving it my all next week.”
Following Mark Allen’s victory at the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open earlier this season, two of the four Home Nations trophies now reside in Antrim. The town has a population of just 23,375 and Brown is going to give all he can to ensure that both trophies remain there.
“It is nice to have two of the four Home Nations trophies on the mantelpiece in the club. It was an absolute thrill to see Mark winning in front of his home fans. I was in the crowd that night and I’ve never experienced anything like it in terms of atmosphere. Hopefully there will be more trophies coming our way and into the club in Antrim. We are very proud of where we come from and we all get behind each other. Whenever we go into the club it is nothing but good vibes and everyone is asking how we are getting on. Personally I have always been proud of where I come from and I will always do the best I can to represent the area.”
The BetVictor Welsh Open takes place at the ICC Wales from February 28th to March 6th. Tickets start at just £10 and fans should book immediately. It’s an incredible chance to see the very best players on the planet! For details click here.
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