YOUNGSTER Sam Baird recorded one of his best career wins after beating Martin Gould to qualify for this season’s Welsh Open.
Baird, who returned to professional status as one of the Q School winners last summer, put in an impressive performance to cause the biggest shock of the Welsh Open qualifiers so far in beating a player ranked 71 places above him.
Breaks of 60, 104 and 57 helped Baird to a 3-1 lead against the recent Snooker Shoot Out champion.
But Gould fought back winning the next two frames to force a deciding frame but it was Baird who crossed the winning line with a break of 67 to close out the match. The world number 89 could face German Masters champion Ali Carter in the opening round when the tournament kicks off on Monday – should he win his qualifying match against Gerard Greene on Saturday.
Elsewhere, the third day of action at the World Snooker Academy provided no other significant surprises. Mark King cruised to Newport with a 4-0 win over Aditya Mehta and Marco Fu eased through beating Passakorn Suwannawat 4-1.
Mark Allen had to come from behind to beat Barry Pinches 4-2 and and Robert Milkins beat Paul Davison by the same scoreline to book his place at the ranking event.
Ian Burns received a bye into the tournament. It is understood his opponent Jamie Cope was stuck in traffic on the M1 and could get to the match on time.
Earlier in the day the first round qualifying matches came to a close. Six times world champion Steve Davis booked a place at the venue stage with victory over Kurt Maflin and will play world number one Mark Selby for a place in the last 32.
Alfie Burden also sealed his place at Newport with a 4-3 win over Scott Donaldson to take on Matthew Stevens. And Chinese star Liang Wenbo enjoyed a whitewash win over Tony Drago. Wenbo to meet Ryan Day in the second round qualifier.
Elsewhere, there was disappointment for Jimmy White who lost 4-2 to Zhang Anda despite taking a 2-0 lead. There were also first round wins for Rod Lawler, Pankaj Advani, Nigel Bond and Mark Joyce.
Saturday sees the qualification stages come to a close except the eight matches which have been held off for the venue stage.