Following his shocking 6-5 defeat by China’s Si Jiahui in the first round of the UK Championship, Shaun Murphy stated that “amateurs should not be allowed in professional tournaments.”
Murphy, the World Championship runner-up this year, battled back from a 5-1 deficit 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 unimpressed, telling BBC Radio Five: “I’m going to sound like a grumpy old man, but that young man shouldn’t be in the tournament.”
The World Snooker Tour, on the other hand, responded by saying that, while they respected Murphy’s opinions, they “strongly disagree” with his comments, adding that Si, despite being an amateur, deserved a place based on his results.
Si left the main tour at the end of last season and entered the 128-man tournament in York, northern England, as an amateur top-up.
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“I feel extremely cheated that I lost to someone who shouldn’t even be in the building,” Murphy, the 2005 world champion, said after the match, which ended shortly before midnight local time Tuesday.
“Many elite amateur players like Si Jiahui train and compete full time in the hope of earning a guaranteed tour place, so they are competing under significant pressure with no guarantees,” the World Snooker Tour added.
Reigning UK champion Neil Robertson, who faces amateur, John Astley, on Thursday, expressed sympathy for Murphy, saying, “When you’re playing one of the Chinese boys, some of them are amateurs, but some of them are as good as anyone in the top 50 in the world.”
“Amateurs are under a completely different kind of pressure because they aren’t competing for ranking points.”
“They’re basically on a free hit at a pro, so I completely agree with Shaun’s point there, because it’s extremely dangerous.”