FOURTEEN of Wales’ finest snooker players will join the world’s best at the Motorpoint Arena next week as the 2018 Welsh Open gets underway.
Mark Williams and Ryan Day represent Wales’ best chance at the tournament with the world numbers 10 and 17 hoping to put together a better campaign than last year.
In 2017 Ryan Day lost to Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in the second round, while Williams lost to Elliot Slessor 3-4 in the first round.
16-year-old Jackson Page, who made national news last year after reaching the third round only to be beaten by eventual runner up Judd Trump, is back for a second year.
The Ebbw Vale schoolboy, who is still an amateur, makes the cut after Joe Swail pulled out due to a family illness.
He will face world number 123 Sean O’Sullivan in the first round.
Newport’s Darren Morgan, who was beaten by Stephen Hendry at the 1992 Welsh Open, hopes to return to the tournament through pre-qualifying.
He faces fellow Welshman Rhydian Richards on Monday for a place in the first round.
Last year’s champion Stuart Bingham also returns after serving three months of his six month ban for betting breaches.
Bingham was found guilty of breaking the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association rules on betting on matches.
It is estimated that he placed £35,771 on bets on snooker, including on matches involving himself. The remaining three months of his six month ban will be suspended.
The tournament will be Bingham’s second appearance this season after he reached the 2nd round at the World Grand Prix in Preston this week before losing to Anthony McGill 4-1.
The Welsh Open, which returned to Cardiff in 2015 after a spending a decade in Newport, is part of the Home Series which include the English, Irish and Scottish Opens.
It will once again be hosted at the Motorpoint Arena, running from February 26 to March 4.
Tickets are available via www.worldsnooker.com/tickets