Michael Holt reacts to World Snooker Tour return: ‘I’m excited for the challenge’

Michael Holt has won a place back on the World Snooker Tour (Picture: WPBSA)

Michael Holt has surged back onto the World Snooker Tour thanks to a third Q Tour triumph in five attempts and he is buzzing to have another crack at the professional ranks.

The Hitman spent an unbroken spell on the main tour from 1998-2022 but surprisingly dropped off and has spent the last 18 months in the amateur game trying to win his place back.

The first year did not go to plan but this season could not have gone much better, playing in five of the six Q Tour events and winning three of them.

Winning the final three frames to beat Alfie Davies in the final in Bulgaria on Sunday guaranteed that he tops the Q Tour rankings with an event to spare.

These brilliant performances in the amateur game have earned Holt a two-year card back on the pro tour and it might be a while before he stops smiling about it.

‘I’m buzzing!’ Holt told Metro.co.uk. ‘My confidence is pretty high, having done it how I have, I didn’t twitch over the line. I’m just happy. It’s a nice feeling.

‘Dropping off was a disaster, the first year off the tour was a disaster. I don’t use excuses but we had a lot going on as a family. This season I focussed more.

Michael Holt

Holt picked up his third Q Tour title in Bulgaria on Sunday (Picture: WPBSA)

‘Before the season started I said to my missus, I’d had a couple of glasses of wine and was feeling a bit brave, but I said to her I’m going to win two of these Q Tour events to give myself a chance of getting back on. I should have had more faith in myself!

‘I set my stall out to get on and to play to a level to give me a chance. It’s worked out, I couldn’t be happier, I’m really buzzing. I’m looking forward to the challenge.’

Holt has been as high as number 20 in the world and won a ranking event as recently as 2020, so although it was poor results that saw him drop off tour, he never questioned his ability.

Doubts crept in over his future after a poor first year in the amateur ranks, but the belief in his own skills never faded.

‘You never know do you? You know it’s hard to get back on and the stars need to align,’ he said. ‘I did think about it, but the overriding feeling was that I’m capable of the level that’s so easily tour standard.

‘I felt like as long as I can just do that I can give myself a chance at some point. Even the first 24 years on tour, as frustrating as it was, I always believed in my ability that I can play to the level I need, which kept me going. That kept me going off the tour as well. Until I can’t play to that level I’ve got to keep trying to play.’

The 45-year-old feels the spell off tour will be a blessing in disguise, determined to enjoy himself on his return more than he ever did in the past.

‘Now I’m back on I’m genuinely happy I dropped off,’ he said. ‘I know the mountain is to come, I’m at the bottom of the rankings, getting on the tour is base camp and I’ve got to play better. But I’m excited for the challenge. I’m really looking forward to it.

‘The fact I know I’m good enough kept me going. I’ve banged my head against a brick wall at times, even in the top 32 because I think I can do better. That made me not appreciate or enjoy the game at times, but now I’m back on I’m determined to enjoy it.

‘The game will drive me mad, I’ll hurt when I get beat for two or three days, but I’m going to enjoy the process and give myself the best chance when I’m playing. You never know what’s going to happen, a good run can come out of nowhere, I want to give myself the best chance for that to happen.’

There was certainly an adjustment to the amateur game that Holt had to go through, but it was a family bereavement that made his first year off tour extremely difficult.

It is still something that the family are coming to terms with and Holt was keen to pay tribute to his wife Amy for how she has has dealt with the most painful of times.

‘As a family we had 18 months that weren’t great,’ he explained. ‘Amy’s dad passing away was much worse than anything else. I have got to dedicate this win to my missus because of all she’s been going through, not once has she not been the best mum and the best wife ever.

‘So I’ve got to dedicate it to her, the family are very lucky to have her, she’s the best thing, she’s pretty special.

Amy Holt might be the secret behind the Hitman’s success (Picture: Getty Images)

‘I don’t want to do a big speech, but I’ve had a few people who have helped me out. Django Fung has been really good to me. Thanks to Steve Beal and Big Dave, they’ve all been so good to me in a tough time. Steve Beal, Big Dave and a secret coach, who I can’t say anything more about. Dave has been there since day one of my pro career, he’s buzzing now because he can get away more.’

The terribly sad time the family has been through has helped keep snooker in perspective and Holt is hoping to return to the world’s elite with a fresh and clear attitude.

‘Dropping off tour is a disaster for a snooker player but it’s a first world problem,’ he said. ‘There’s a lot worse stuff going off in the world, you only have to open your news app. It’s not that big a deal.

‘Obviously I wanted to get back on, I liked my attitude to get back on and I need to like myself a bit more at times, so I’m happy about it.

‘I think I’ll have the same attitude to Q Tour, I never looked at the rankings once. I knew I was doing well, but I never looked. Even the last day in Bulgaria I didn’t look at permutations or anything, I just thought I’d pot my next ball. If you pot your next ball you’ll be alright. I’m just going to try and enjoy it.’


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