'Grumpy old man' - Shaun Murphy said amateurs should not be allowed in professional tournaments after his UK Championship first-round loss to China's Si Jiahui
London (AFP) - Shaun Murphy said “amateurs should not be allowed in professional tournaments” following his shock 6-5 defeat by China’s Si Jiahui in the first round of snooker’s UK Championship.
Murphy, runner-up in this year’s World Championship, fought back from 5-1 down only for 19-year-old amateur Si to win the deciding frame.
Murphy, who won the UK – snooker’s second-most important title in 2008 – was decidedly unimpressed, with the 39-year-old telling BBC Radio Five: “I am going to sound like a grumpy old man but that young man shouldn’t be in the tournament.”
The World Snooker Tour, however, responded by saying in a statement that while they respected Murphy’s opinions, they “strongly disagree” with his comments adding Si, although an amateur, deserved a place based on his results.
Si dropped off the main tour at the end of last season and entered the 128-man tournament in York, northern England, as an amateur top-up in the field.
“I feel extremely hard done by that I have lost to someone who shouldn’t even be in the building,” said Murphy, the 2005 world champion, following a match that finished close to midnight local time Tuesday.
“This is our livelihood. This is our living. We are self-employed individuals…It is wrong, in my opinion, to walk into somebody who is not playing with the same pressures and concerns I am.
“He played like a man who does not have a care in the world, because he does not have a care in the world.
“I am not picking on him as a young man, he deserved his victory. Amateurs should not be allowed in professional tournaments, the end.”
But the World Snooker Tour added: “Many elite amateur players like Si Jiahui train and compete full time in the hope of earning a guaranteed tour place, therefore they are competing under significant pressure with no guarantees.”
Reigning UK champion Neil Robertson, who faces amateur John Astley on Thursday, had sympathy for Murphy, with the Australian saying: “When you’re playing one of the Chinese boys, some of them are amateurs, but some are as good as anybody in the top 50 in the world.
“Amateurs are under a completely different pressure where there’s actually no pressure, because they’re not competing for ranking points.
“They’re basically on a free hit at a pro, so I completely agree with what Shaun’s saying there, because it is very dangerous.”