Three months ago Ken Doherty was relegated from snooker’s main tour and faced the very realistic prospect of his days playing professional snooker being over for good.
The former world champion fell below the required criteria needed to stay on tour for the following season after a disappointing campaign. which saw him drop out of the main tour for the first time in more than 30 years.
It was a season to forget for the man nicknamed “The Darling of Dublin” who only registered nine wins all campaign – only reaching the Last 16 stage in tournaments just twice.
But how things have changed.
Due to his status in the game, World Snooker chief Barry Hearn said Doherty, as well as Jimmy White, could be given a two-year tour wildcard for their services to the sport. It was a gesture which allowed the pair to keep playing if places in tournaments were available for, at least, the next two years and gave them the chance to earn their place on the tour back.
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And the Irishman, who won the World Championship in 1997 beating Stephen Hendry, has certainly made the most of his wildcard given to him – having won nine out of ten matches this season including a run to the semi-finals in the first ranking event of the 2017/2018 campaign – The Riga Masters.
Doherty has already won the same amount of matches (nine) that he did throughout the whole of the last campaign and has smashed the total prize money he accumulated last season by some distance. And has successfully sealed his place in the next few major ranking events – the China Championship, the World Open, Indian Open and European Masters.
His victories in the European Masters and Indian Open qualifiers came against those in the top 16 – Barry Hawkins and Ali Carter respectively.
Doherty will compete in the China Championship next week looking to build on his fine form. He faces fellow former world champion Shaun Murphy in the opening round.