Gosport youngster Mark Lloyd gets set to take on world snooker champion Mark Selby
Gosport’s Mark Lloyd gets his big break on Sunday - playing world champion Mark Selby in the Northern Ireland Open.
Lloyd, 21, takes on the world No1 in the first round of the professional ranking tournament in Belfast, writes MICHAEL BULL.
Beating the four-times world champ would catapult Lloyd into the public eye and help him achieve his dream of being a full-time professional.
He said: ‘It’s a fantastic opportunity to be drawn against such a high profile player. Because he is the current world champion we will probably be playing on centre stage so we should receive a lot of coverage on Eurosports and other channels.
‘The bookies have got me at about 16-1 so I’m obviously the underdog but we will just have to see what happens on the day. I’m feeling very confident.’
Currently semi-pro, Lloyd is keen to earn his Tour Card - his ticket to compete in every pro tournament and make a living from the prize money. He stands to win around £3,000 if he produces a shock victory against Selby.
Lloyd narrowly missed out on qualifying for a Tour Card when he went to Q School for up-and-coming snooker players.
As one of the most successful players, though, he was entered into an Order Of Merit and was invited to take part in the Northern Ireland Open when another player dropped out.
Lloyd, recent winner of the Waterlooville Pro Am tournament, has won sponsorship from Fareham ad agency Leads Everyday, which generates new business for tradesmen.
A spokesman for Leads Everyday said: ‘Mark is a very talented young man and we’re all backing him to beat the world champ!
‘We’re delighted to be able to support such wonderful local talent and we don’t think it will be long before Mark is a big name in snooker.
‘It’s all about getting the big breaks - and Mark’s the man for that.’
Havant pro Jamie Wilson is out of the Northern Ireland Open after losing 4-2 to Martin O’Donnell in qualifying.