Wednesday 2 March 2022

UK Open preview 7/8

(60) Steve Beaton v (120) Andrew Gilding/(UR) Kevin Burness or (UR) Graham Hall

Quite a few old names here, who thought Beaton would be on part seven, but it is what it is. Hall's not an immediately familiar name, but seemingly did play this before ages ago and lost to Robbie Green, tried Q-School and averaged 81, had a little bit of a run in the England Open last year. Burness is more familiar, getting his card back and there's more than enough still in the tank with Kevin to think he should take the first round comfortably. Gilding's finest hour came in this event with that semi final run, he's probably a touch better than Burness but I don't think there's necessarily a massive amount in it. Nor for that matter against Beaton, again it's a case where I think he's incrementally slightly better, but it's fairly tight (master computer actually gives Gilding the tiniest of edges) and it'll be anyone's game.

(63) Joe Murnan/(95) Matt Campbell or (211) Sebastian Bialecki v (72) Keegan Brown

Will go through round by round. Campbell against Bialecki is arguably the tie of the first round, Matt's always looked very solid on TV and had a great Challenge Tour season last year, while Bialecki made a huge name for himself twelve months ago in the same event, we've got enough data on both to draw a line and it seems like it's around 55/45 in favour of the Canadian. Murnan's up next, the highest ranked player in this section and may be around the same level of favourite against Campbell as Matt was against the Pole, another tight one one the cards. Then we've got Keegan Brown, he won't necessarily like this draw and is in a critical season where he really needs to make the worlds to save his card, and anything he can do here could be really helpful. He's probably a little bit better than Joe, call it 60/40 after the best of Joe's form which was early 2021 has dropped off the sample, and he has shown some occasional flashes on the floor, but the pressure is on here to some extent.

(65) Andy Boulton v (112) Danny Lauby or (173) Niko Springer/(276) Dom Taylor or (UR) Paul Hogan

First opening game first, and it's one that's become a heck of a lot more interesting after Niko's exploits in Riesa. Before that I'd have said Lauby quite comfortably, at their peaks I'd say they're fairly similar players, the difference is that we've seen Niko's peak in the last week. On the other one we've got players at opposite ends of their careers, we all know Paul, and while I don't think he's quite at the same level he was when he was doing his giant killing exploits, it should still be a tough ask for Taylor, who seems steady enough and has had some Development Tour success which is why he's here. Maybe the wealth of experience Hogan has will see him through, but the kids these days don't care about that. Seems extremely tight all around, maybe the Lauby/Springer side has the slight edge. Boulton seems a little bit ahead of all of these, very steady player who's not going to give much away, probably one of the biggest surprises not to make the worlds, he should be able to make amends here but I wouldn't consider him a considerable favourite against any of these.

(73) Steve West v (154) John Brown/(216) Damian Mol or (UR) Josh Rock

This seems like an easier one to pick out. Rock's killing it right now, and Mol's level of play, while not bad, really shouldn't be able to get close to Josh on current form. Brown if anything is slightly worse, would be a tight match with Mol but I don't see that happening. West had an awful 2021 but is actually playing a little bit better in the early days of this season with an average of 93 right now on the Pro Tour, it's nothing compared to what Rock is doing, but it's certainly enough that if he can not make mistakes on his own throw, Josh isn't going to have it his own way. Much like Keegan a couple of sections up, West really needs to get some points on the board to save his card, trouble is he's run into maybe the single most in form player in the entire first three rounds.

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