Thursday, 6 September 2012

The Rocket is back

World champion Ronnie O'Sullivan is back in action this weekend at the UKPTC3 in Gloucester.

When he takes on Simon Bedford on Saturday, it will be the first time he's played in a competitive match since beating Ali Carter to win his fourth World Championship in May.

Picture by Monique Limbos
This gives an already open and exciting tournament some added spice.

Love him or hate him, Ronnie is fantastic at bringing interest to the game. You can expect to see a few extra bums on seats at the South West Snooker Academy this weekend and his participation is also bound to attract some additional media attention to the event.

Even for snooker's most die-hard fans, Ronnie's returns participation always gives a tournament extra appeal, and it was a relief to see him finally sign the World Snooker players' contract last month.

O'Sullivan always said he would take a break from playing snooker after his Crucible campaign, but his well-publicised issues surroundings the terms and conditions of the contract made this somewhat thornier.

In true deadline day fashion, it took him until the final hours of the night before the entry dates of the latest set of tournaments, including the UK Championship, to sign on the dotted line.

He kept everyone holding their breath but finally committing is a sure sign that O'Sullivan still enjoys playing the game and still has the motivation to win.

For clarity, after conversations with Barry he has agreed to the same terms as the rest of the players on the professional circuit.

Ronnie comes back into the fray and is immediately a danger man. His superb performance in Sheffield proved again he is capable of winning any tournament. And he'll be among a handful of players in the running to win every tournament he enters this season.

It's natural that he may be a little rusty in his first outing in Gloucester but I'm sure he'll soon find his rhythm. He knows the old green baize like the back of his hand and will certainly have been putting a few hours in on the practice to get back up to scratch.

Ronnie will be the star attraction of this weekend's snooker but there are plenty others who will be looking to claim some silverware.

I'm positive Judd Trump will be boosted by the return of his Grove partner. Stephen Maguire has made each of the two UKPTC finals already this season and is playing well enough to make it a third. I could go on with the names...

It's also worth remembering that this will be the penultimate professional event held in Gloucester, with the contract with World Snooker already wavered for next season.

The SWSA is a truly great place for snooker and it's important we make the most of the final two tournaments here. I'll be at the heart of the action in the press room and around the tables this weekend.

Follow my tweets @GaryOnCue to hear all the big stories.

Enjoy the tournament.

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