Stuart Bingham closes in on massive prize as he heads for Northern Ireland Open

Stuart Bingham
Stuart Bingham

Stuart Bingham admits that the chance of winning an unprecedented £1 million bonus will be in the back of his mind when he plays in next week’s BetVictor Northern Ireland Open.

Bingham won the BetVictor English Open in Crawley last month, the first of the season’s Home Nations series. If he can go on to capture the other three Home Nations titles this season – in Belfast, Glasgow and Cardiff – he will land the massive £1 million jackpot.

The BetVictor Northern Ireland Open at the Belfast Waterfront runs from November 12 to 18. A strong field of 128 players features 15 of the world’s top 16, including Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, Mark Selby, Mark Williams, John Higgins and home favourite Mark Allen.

With victory in Crawley, Bingham became the first player to win two Home Nations events, as the previous eight over the past two seasons had gone to eight different players.

“I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about the £1 million,” said the 42-year-old from Basildon. “But I’m only a quarter of the way there, I’d still have to win another 21 matches and every match is tough. If I win the Northern Ireland event then ask me again!

“I still have to pinch myself thinking about it because it’s so good to be back in the winner’s circle. It makes a big difference for the rest of the season in terms of getting into the Masters, World Grand Prix and staying in the top 16.

“I was disappointed to go to China for the International Championship and lose (to Eden Sharav) in the first round. I had wanted to keep my good run going. But my opponent took his chances and played well. I was over-thinking my game a bit on the technical side whereas throughout my career I have always played best when I am relaxed and enjoying it.”

Bingham has never won a match at the Belfast Waterfront as he lost in the first round of the Northern Ireland Trophy when it was played there from 2006 to 2008, then he didn’t enter the Northern Ireland Open in 2016, and in 2017 he was in the middle of a three-month ban for breaching betting rules.

“My record in Belfast can’t get any worse,” he said. “I really like the Waterfront venue so it’s a shame I haven’t done better there. I’ve got a difficult first round match against Peter Lines this time but hopefully I can get a win in Belfast under my belt.”

Tickets are on sale now and start at just £10, fantastic value for the chance to see eight tables in play during the early rounds. A limited number of tickets are still available for the final on Sunday November 18, but fans must book fast.

For details visit www.worldsnooker.com/tickets or call 028 9033 4455.