Phil Haigh ✍️
Jimmy White is aiming to lift the UK Championship trophy after coming through qualifying at 60 years old, and feels his quartet of victories prove he thoroughly deserves his place on the World Snooker Tour.
The Whirlwind has upset the odds to make it through qualifying and to the main stages of the tournament in York, beating Victor Sarkis and Mitchell Mann without dropping a frame.
He then stunned former champion Stephen Maguire before beating fellow veteran Dominic Dale 6-1 in the final round of qualifying on Wednesday.
White is playing on the pro circuit thanks to an invitational tour card, granted due to his immense services to the game, and although some do not agree that legends of the sport are invited to keep playing professionally, White disagrees and feels that this week has been evidence that he deserves his spot.
‘Absolutely,’ White told Metro.co.uk. ‘I’ve given my whole life to the game. I do demonstrations, exhibitions, I’m always promoting the game.
‘Players like myself, [Ken] Doherty and people want to carry on playing, I don’t see why not.’
White’s remarkable upturn in results of late is partly thanks to his son Tommy helping him out in practice, but also focussing on the mental side of the game as he battles to hold onto concentration during matches at 60 years old.
‘I’ve seen every sports analyst known to mankind and I’m just going back on things now because I slip in and out of concentration and you just can’t do that you know,’ he said.
‘You can be sitting there, all of a sudden it’s your shot and you’re not focussed, it doesn’t matter how easy it is, you can’t do it. Second half of this match today I got it back, even if I’d have gone right to the wire, I’d have been ok.’
Speaking to World Snooker Tour after beating Dale, White was asked where this run ranks in his achievements over recent years and he was bullish that getting to the last 32 means nothing yet.
‘You’ll have to ask me after I win it. I’m not here to make the numbers up,’ he told Rob Walker. ‘If I bring my A game I can win the competition.’
The 16 qualifiers join the world’s top 16 in York, with the draw taking place on Thursday for the first round of the main stages.
30 years after he won his only UK Championship, so far, White is confident he can compete with the world’s best at the Barbican.
‘Not at all,’ said Jimmy when asked if he cares who he draws. ‘Every one of these guys, they’re in the top 16 for a reason, they’re the most consistent, I’m down the rankings because I’m not consistent. But my A game can compete with any of them.
‘I’ve always had great support. As we’ve gone on, Ronnie O’Sullivan who plays the game so exciting, Trump is back in form, it’s a pleasure to be amongst these guys.
‘I’m just so pleased. There’s nothing wrong with my game, it’s just mental with me and that’s what I’m focussing on.’
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