The spring sporting season continues this weekend with the start of the World Snooker Championships for which Ronnie O’Sullivan is the favourite despite returning to the game after an absence of almost one year. The Rocket is the defending champion but has nothing left to achieve in proving he is the best player in the world and looks a market leader to oppose.
Bet Enthusiast subscribers will be on Mark Selby who was advised over a month ago and we have now added Judd Trump to our portfolio for the marathon of snooker in Sheffield. The tournament always produces a worthy winner due to the length of the matches and the fact that successful players have to maintain their best form over more than two weeks of competition at the highest level.
O’Sullivan has won the title on four occasions and is arguably the most naturally talented player to have played the game. In terms of titles Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry have been more successful but both those players had to work hard in practice to maintain a high level of consistency for more than ten years.
No other player is able to come in and out of the game and still perform like O’Sullivan. However, despite his obvious talent there are often collateral factors and that has to be factored in to taking a price about this player. At times his fragile mental state has got in the way of his class on the table.
Davis and Hendry rarely lost a match because of outside mental influences and there is always a danger with O’Sullivan that he could suddenly lose interest in the game and play below his best.
In golf Sergio Garcia has also taken sabbaticals from the sport and has lost enthusiasm for his profession in the past.
These type of sportsmen require a spark to start enjoying their sport. Garcia was clearly inspired by last year’s Ryder Cup and he was his ebullient self in the match against the Americans. However, he seems to have talked himself into believing he is not good enough to win a major championship and that lack of confidence makes him vulnerable at the very highest level.
O’Sullivan is slightly different in that he has won four world titles and knows he can beat all his contemporaries when performing at his peak. It is debatable whether Garcia will win his major, though golf is a more competitive sport because any one of 30 players can contend at major championships.
In snooker there are more ranking events than majors in golf. There is probably only a handful of players that can win the world championships and favourites have a good record in the event. Even so there is a risk that the less effective version of O’Sullivan might turn up in Sheffield and for that reason other players have better prospects.
You can definitely include Mark Selby in that category. He is the number one player in the world rankings and seeded to win his first world title. Judd Trump has slightly less obvious claims but he has shown the form and ability to take his first world title. O’Sullivan will create the most media interest and would be the most popular winner but Selby and Trump have more solid credentials.
Back next Friday.