Phil Haigh ✍️
Dave Gilbert stormed through qualifying to make it into the last 32 of the UK Championship, although insists he is playing terribly having not been practicing seriously.
It has been a stop-start first half of the season for Gilbert, as it has for many players, with gaps in the calendar due to the lack of Chinese events and elongated periods of qualifying in places like Leicester, Wigan and Cannock.
The Angry Farmer has picked up some results of late, though, reaching the quarter-finals of the Northern Ireland Open last month and beating Lei Peifan 6-2 and Mark King 6-0 this week in UK Championship qualifying.
However, after whitewashing King, Gilbert was not exactly buzzing with the dominant win, with four half-centuries along the way.
‘It’s just about getting six frames so I’m pleased with that, I’m in the draw,’ Gilbert told WST.
‘I’m playing terribly, I hardly play now, so I’m going to play lots of bad shots, that’s just the way it is, it’s normal now. I just turn up and play at the minute.’
Asked if things were getting him down, the 40-year-old just said, ‘life’s tough at times’ and while he is not putting in the hours in practice, he is finding a way to get performances out of himself.
‘I’m just trying to play positive and a bit fast just so I don’t think or care,’ he said.
‘Obviously my long game is awful, my safety is awful, I can’t hit a barn door from distance, just from not playing, not practicing and not winning matches, it’s all about winning matches.
‘But if you leave me in the balls with an easy starter I fancy making 20 and then you go from there. Listen, I can play a little bit, but I’m kind of winging it.’
It’s not like Gilbert hasn’t touched his cue, putting in an hour or so most days, but it is not the rigorous practice regime that he would normally be employing in the midst of the season.
He has been busy away from the tour, though with his club Potters in Swadlincote going from strength to strength and with plans for another venue to come.
Change the topic from his game and the Farmer is upbeat again, passionate about his business, especially the pool side of it.
‘The club is far exceeding our expectations or anything, we’ve come to realise that pool is absolutely huge, it far outweighs the snooker,’ he said.
‘My mate wanted a snooker club but it’s turned into a pool club. I’d love to buy another pool club, I’ve got huge plans, I’d love to find the right premises to open another pool club or sports bar ASAP in another town. There’s a big market out there and I’d love to be involved in it.
‘We’re doing okay, we won’t get ahead of ourselves, you have to do what you can, keep your punters happy but it’s going really well, the pool is a huge market out there.’
He heads to York to take on Shaun Murphy in the last 32 on Tuesday and is hoping that he will be booking hotels to stay beyond then, although frustrations return when talking about the baize.
‘York’s beautiful, everyone knows that. You can only enjoy it if you’re winning matches, I’d like to stay for a week!’ Gilbert said.
‘I’m free rolling from now on here, It ain’t like a few years ago when I felt like I can compete, no, I know I can compete and hopefully something can kick in, who knows? I’m just trying not to snap my cue at the minute.’
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