Ronnie won an entertaining match yesterday evening, beating Michael White by 6-3. They both went for their shots, but there was nothing reckless from either of them.
There were some very good safeties as well. I remember Michael years ago: he was a tremendous potter but he had no B game. He surprised me in a good way yesterday: he played some good tactical stuff.
Ronnie played an open game, but you could see that he really wanted to win.
Here are the scores:
O’Sullivan Rises To White Challenge
Ronnie O’Sullivan began his quest for an eighth Cazoo UK Championship title with a 6-3 win over Michael White in a high quality contest in York.
The Rocket looked in danger of a shock first round exit when amateur White fought back from 3-1 down to 3-3, but O’Sullivan regained his footing and won the last three frames to set up a last-64 tie with Robbie Williams.
Breaks of 139, 131 and 72 gave O’Sullivan his early lead. White fought back impressively by taking frames five and six, and in the seventh he had a chance to clear from 59-1 down, but ran out of position on the final red. O’Sullivan got the better of a safety battle on the colours to go 4-3 ahead, and that proved the turning point as the world number three added the next two frames for victory.
“Michael is too good a player not to be on the tour,” insisted O’Sullivan, who celebrates his 46th birthday on the final day of this tournament. “He is a proper player, he has won two ranking events. He’ll get back on the tour, stay on it and do well. I know my snooker and I offered him some advice after the match. Whether he takes that or not is up to him, but it might be good for him to go away and look at that.
“He has got so much potential to win many more tournaments. When I stop playing I would love to help him, free of charge, because I really like the guy. He plays the game in the right way and plays to win. Some of the matches I was watching tonight, they play as if their life depends on it and you can’t play this game that way. We all want to win, but you have got to play the right shots. Most of the tour are just desperate to win so they play ugly snooker. He’s not like that, he plays to win trophies, and if you don’t do that then the game won’t forgive you.
“The crowd got their money’s worth tonight and they deserved it because they are a good crowd, they have supported this tournament very well. They didn’t have it here last year, because we were in Milton Keynes. It’s good for snooker that the crowds have come back. Big up to York, it’s one of my favourite places on Earth.”
The Rocket is surprised to see a man of White’s immense talent being classed as an amateur at 30 years old, and feels he probably has to work on the mental side of the game look for help in doing so, as O’Sullivan has with the likes of Dr Steve Peters.
‘He’s been on and off the tour, but should never be off the tour. He’s far too good,’ O’Sullivan told Eurosport. ‘He had a strong junior and amateur career and is a double ranking event winner.
‘You just never know why people fall off, but sometimes they’ve got their own problems.
‘Your game can deteriorate and go missing for spells, and maybe that’s what happened to Michael. But there is time for him to get back there competing with the top guys.
‘It’s a tough sport, you know. I call it snooker depression. Some people struggle with it and it’s important to get help. You have to work on your weaknesses. If one of them is the mental side of it, then you need to work on that side of things and work on yourself.’
White has been open about problems off the table in the past, speaking to Metro.co.uk earlier this year about giving up drinking after he felt alcohol was ruining his game and his life.
Speaking in May, White explained: ‘I’ve changed my whole lifestyle around basically, obviously from me going from top 16 to coming off the tour, there are reasons behind that.
‘I’ve stopped drinking completely. To be honest I had a bit of a problem with alcohol. It stemmed from a lot of things really, I put a snooker room in my house, which wasn’t a great idea. I wasn’t practicing for events, I was turning up, getting beat, going back and I was a bit depressed as well at the time. I was turning to drink.’
He is yet to regain his professional status, but White was then very confident of not just doing that, but returning to the top of the sport.
‘I strongly believe I can get back into the top 16,’ he said in May.
‘I feel like I’m stronger mentally after going through the things I’ve been through. I was quite young getting into the top 16 – 23, 24 – so I’m a lot more experienced now, not just snooker-wise but in the way I conduct myself. I know more things that work for me and against me, I’m more wised-up on that side.’
Michael hasn’t managed to requalify via the Q-School but finished high enough in the order of merit to get many opportunities to play this season. If he can play regularly the way he played yesterday he should be back on the main tour in a near future. Good luck to him.
Ronnie will now face Robbie Williams some time during the week-end.