Aaron Hill insists his success at snooker Q School in securing his professional status for another two years is a bigger feat than beating world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan.
The 20-year-old Cork kid overcame 18-year-old Chinese prodigy Zhao Jianbo 4-1 in the finals of event two to claim a new two-year tour card in Sheffield.
Despite completing a famous 5-4 win over O'Sullivan in the last 64 of the European Masters in September 2020, Hill has toiled for results and was forced to return Q School at Ponds Forge after slumping to 93 in the world rankings last season.
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Out of a starting grid of 127, only four players could win tour cards from event two with another four available from event three as Q School concludes on Thursday.
Fergal O'Brien, Rod Lawler, Andy Lee and Bai Langning claimed the first four tour cards from event one last week.
"To be sitting here after getting through Q School is a much bigger achievement than beating Ronnie," Hill told reporters.
There was much more pressure out there and I think it is probably the biggest achievement of my life.
"I was thrown in at the deep end on the tour and didn’t expect it to be as tough as it was. But I have got a second chance and I am determined to make the most of it.”
Hill opened with a break of 110 against 18-year-old Zhao – who has a final chance to regain his tour status in event three – before winning the final three frames.
He enjoyed earlier wins over James Lee (4-0), Faizaan Mohammed (4-0), Gao Yang (4-2) and Kuldesh Johal (4-0).
The Irish player's best return last season was reaching the third round of the Gibraltar Open and Shoot Out, but will hope his performance at Q School can point to better times ahead.

Q School event two results

  • Daniel Wells 3-4 Adam Duffy
  • Zak Surety 4-2 Ben Mertens
  • Zhao Jianbo 1-4 Aaron Hill
  • Steven Hallworth 3-4 Sanderson Lam
An Asia-Oceania Q School will also take place in Bangkok for the first time starting on 1 June with another four tour cards on the line.
Two events are to be hosted in Thailand's capital city with the finalists from both earning a two-year card to the elite circuit.
19-year-old Julien Leclercq of Belgium clinched a two-year tour card with victory at the Q Tour play-offs.

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