Don Watson of Otaki in action at the New Zealand Snooker Masters at the Masterton Club. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

JAKE BELESKI

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The dress attire was out and the beer was flowing at the first day of the New Zealand Snooker Masters event at the Masterton Club on Friday.

Players from across the country arrived at the club to compete for the title, in a tournament that will run until Sunday night.

The event is one of 15 masters events held each year, and tournament controller Roy Clark said it would be one of the best.

“They range from Papakura in the north, to Blenheim in the south, and virtually all parts in between.

“I compete in all of them as well, and so does my wife Diane.”

Forty-five players were entered in the tournament, and Clark said it would be an action-packed weekend.

“We have qualifying, in which you would have five matches.

“Then we play post-section which is a main event, a flight event, a plate, and a consolation plate.

“It means no matter how good or bad you play, you’ll be playing all weekend.”

It is the first time the Masterton Club has hosted the masters event, after serving as a back-up to the Cosmopolitan Club in recent years.

The venue was well equipped to host such a prestigious event, Clark said.

“It’s magic — 140 years old and it’s brilliant.

“It’s actually one of the better venues we play in.”

Clark cited Hastings player Joe Hunn as a player to watch over the weekend, as he came into the tournament with the lowest handicap (-55).

Although Hunn was considered “a class above”, Clark said that didn’t mean he was guaranteed of walking away with the prize.

“With the masters you just don’t know who will win.

“The handicap system works very well, and that’s the nature of snooker.”

Players had come from all parts to compete in the tournament, and Clark said there would also be plenty of local talent on display.

“We’ve got guys from Wellington, New Plymouth and Foxton, and lots of very handy local club players who could take the title out.

“There’s probably 16 to 20 locals competing.”

It might be the first time the Masterton Club had hosted the tournament, but Clark said there was no doubt they would be coming back regularly in the future.

“The manager here (Bill Johnson) is very good — he’s a top guy and very pro-snooker.

“He’s already talking about putting extra tables in, which would be magic.”



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