Ken Doherty booked his place in the Championship League last 32 with a match to spare courtesy of wins over Rory McLeod and Ryan Davies at Morningside Arena in Leicester.
In his 32nd season as a professional on the World Snooker Tour, the evergreen Dubliner topped Group 14 with back-to-back victories before his final group match with former German Masters champion Martin Gould, who drew his first two fixtures 2-2 with Davies and McLeod respectively to fall out of contention.
Six-times ranking event winner Doherty missed a simple pink in the first frame against McLeod, but recovered strongly to win the next three frames before he finished with a classy knock of 73 to finalise the three points in defeating amateur Davies.
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He was on for a maximum 147 in the final frame of his 2-2 draw with Gould, but broke down on 89 as he finished the day on seven points after recovering from 2-0 behind.
“I’m pretty pleased. The first tournament of the new season. It’s nice to get off to a good start it’s nice to qualify top of the group and into the next stage," said Doherty.
"I had some great memories of playing in this last year. Got very close to the final just one frame away. I do like the format. The short format is great. Not so taxing on the old concentration. I’m delighted to get through.
It’s just a little bit disappointing in the last frame on the maximum, I had a chance and I don’t like maximums anyway! They’re overrated as far as I’m concerned. Win the frame first.
Oliver Lines joined his dad Peter in the last 32 of the season's first ranking event after claiming first place in Group 13 on seven points.
After opening with a 2-2 draw against Peter Devlin, Lines completed 3-0 wins against Luke Pinches and Joshua Thomond which proved enough with Devlin needing a break of 93 or better to deny Lines against Pinches.
Despite finishing with a 3-0 win, Lines progressed via the highest break. Oliver admits he is inspired by his dad Peter, who reclaimed a two-year tour card via Q School in June at the age of 51, the same age as Doherty, who has been granted a wildcard on the main tour to continue after turning professional in 1990.
"My dad inspires me because he never takes a day off," said Oliver. "He never ever takes a day off unlike people like me.
"He deserves everything he got from Q School and deserves to start the season how he did. I'm really pleased for him."
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