IRELAND’S Ken Doherty has been drawn to face world number six Stuart Bingham in the first round of this year’s World Snooker Championship, which gets underway at the Crucible in Sheffield tomorrow.
Doherty, who won the tournament in 1997 and is now placed 28th in the world, had to come through three rounds of qualifying just to make the main draw.
Aside from lifting the sport’s most prestigious trophy 17 years ago, the Irishman has twice finished runner-up at the Crucible in 1998 and 2003.
He will be confident of causing an upset in the first round as Bingham has only once gone beyond the second round in York in seven attempts, reaching the quarter-finals last year.
At 44, Doherty is the oldest player at this year’s World Championships but is relishing being the tournament’s elder statesmen.
Speaking to the BBC, he said being the “oldest swinger in town” was something he thought “would never happen”.
“I might be the oldest player in the tournament but my mind-set will make me feel like the youngest player because I will feel like a teenager again. I will enjoy every minute of it,” he said.
“You have to embrace it (being the oldest). I don’t mind as long as I am there. I love the game and I love playing.”
If Doherty succeeds in beating Bingham, he could face a familiar foe in the second round – John Higgins, the man who beat him in the final in 1998.
The Irishman’s first round match takes place over two days from tomorrow.