This year’s Northern Ireland Open may already have seen the breakthrough of the next star in the making after 24-year-old Sam Craigie produced his best performance yet to beat Kyren Wilson.
Craigie certainly made a big impression in Belfast earlier today after beating this year’s English Open finalist 4-1 – winning all four frames with one visit and knocking in two century breaks along the way.
And, remarkably, his best performance on the world stage came in his first ever match wearing glasses.
Over the weekend the Newcastle potter revealed he would be having a new look after suffering a frustrating start to the campaign which has seen him make the third round in just one ranking event this season.
And the new glasses certainly did wonders first up as breaks of 110, 106, 88 and 81 stunned the 2015 Shanghai Masters winner.
On his website, Craigie said he has struggled to see the ball properly during the season.
In a blog post published before today’s match Craigie said: “In recent weeks, I’ve been having a few issues with my vision and thanks to the help of the team at the Wallsend branch (of Spescsavers), I’m feeling much better about my game now.
“When I first tested the glasses, I couldn’t believe the difference they made; it was immediate. Making such a big change can obviously be a bit daunting but as soon as I walked into the branch and asked for assistance, the team was keen to help and took particular interest as I’m a snooker player.
WHO IS SAM CRAIGIE?
In 2010 Geordie Sam Craigie burst into the limelight when he was crowned the world under-21 champion at the age of 16, beating China’s Li Hang 9-8 in the final. The victory saw him qualify for the professional tour for the first time in 2011/12.
In his first season, he reached the last 48 of The China Open and The German Masters and over the course of the campaign enjoyed impressive wins against experienced professionals including Barry Hawkins, Tom Ford, Stephen Lee and Dave Harold.
Sam re-qualified for the professional tour in 2016 after winning an EBSA play-off match 4-3 against Adam Duffy. In his first season, he reached the last 32 of The World Open including wins against Marco Fu and Ken Doherty.
Earlier this season he beat Judd Trump 5-0 to qualify for the venue stages of the World Open
“Sometimes it’s difficult to put your finger on what’s not quite right and now I’ve been practising with the glasses it’s quite obvious that I was struggling to see the edges of the balls clearly on my long shots.
“Obviously this change doesn’t mean I’m going to start potting everything and I’m certainly not one to make excuses, but I am excited to go into my matches feeling more confident in what I’m doing and the shots I’m playing.”
Former world champion Neil Robertson described Craigie’s glasses as ‘cool’ saying they looked better than the famous frames worn by Dennis Taylor in the 1980s.
Next up for Craigie – a former world under 21 champion – is a second round tie against Mark Joyce or Ben Woollaston.