The Hotel Collection World 8-Ball Championships 2014 are up and running in Blackpool and home favourite Lynette Horsburgh is on cue to take thecrown for a second time.
The Blackpool cue queen is seeded two for the ladies singles at the Imperial Hotel and overcame a testing opening hurdle to reach the last 16 of the £40,000 event.
Experienced Irish potter Kim O’Brien opposed Horsburgh in her first match and won two of the first three frames.
Horsburgh, champion in 2008, hit back to lead 3-2 but O’Brien, already with an earlier match under her belt, squared the contest at 3-3. However, the 40-year-old wouldn’t be denied and reeled off three successive frames to complete a 6-3 victory.
Horsburgh, a former Scotland international, returns to action today and faces Australian Theresa Whitten for a place in tomorrow’s quarter-finals. Both players have a strong snooker background and Whitten has already accounted for Scots Jodie Holt (6-1) and Angie Tidball (6-3).
Horsburgh was seeded to meet England’s Sharon Wright in the last four but the West Midlander suffered a surprise 6-5 defeat to South African Deonette Jonkers in the last 32.
Former European champion Emma Wilkinson is now on course to meet Horsburgh in the last four.
Defending champion and top seed Emma Cunningham is in the other half of the draw, and the Northern Ireland international breezed through her first outing 6-1 against South Africa’s Anya Roux.
The Championships are now in their 22nd year and have made their home on the Fylde coast.
More than 600 players are in action over the coming week in a multitude of events, including team events including seniors, wheelchairs, U21 and juniors.
Tom Cousins begins his defence of the men’s singles title today against qualifier Vikh Makh. The Norfolk-based top seed, bidding to be the first player since 2008 to retain the trophy, could be on a collision course with former champion Phil Harrison in the quarter-finals.
But with two-time winner Mick Hill and 2011 champion Adam Davies among the qualifiers, Cousins knows his draw could have been worse.
The bottom half of the draw looks particularly tough, featuring: Hill, Davies, 2012 world champion John Roe, current European title holder Ben Flack and England captain Lee Kendall.
Second seed Roe opens his campaign against this year’s European runner-up, Rob Brady of Ireland. Last season’s world finalist Craig Waddingham is in the top half of the draw and faces qualifier Jimmy Carney. Some 64 players go into men’s singles action but only eight will be left at the end of today.
Admission is free for the early rounds and tickets for the final two days (next Tuesday and Wednesday) can be obtained via 01706 642770 or (01253) 752581.