CONNOR Benzey has been handed a wildcard for this year’s world championship.
The 18-year-old Cuestars Gold Tour player from Eastleigh takes his place at snooker’s top table in Sheffield on July 21.
Four rounds are being held at the English Institute of Sport before the last-32 move to the Crucible Theatre.
Benzey received the news by phone this week.
He said: “I was chuffed when they called me.”
Dad Mark added: “I really can’t believe it.”
Benzey’s expenses are being covered by loft conversion specialists Attic Life and Cuestars, which he will pay back from the £5,000 prize money if he wins one match.
The wildcard is a reward for his success this season. Benzey finished runner-up on the national under-21 circuit and was third in the European Under-18 Championship in Portugal.
Benzey has also forked out £1,000 to enter Q School. The 12 qualifiers from the three back-to-back tournaments starting on August 3 in Sheffield will receive two-year tour cards for the professional circuit.
He will be joined by former Gold Tour champion Mark Lloyd who has been awarded a free place by the English Partnership for Snooker and Billiards for winning the English Under-21 Championship and for topping the national under-21 rankings.
The 20-year-old from Gosport said: “I’ve just got to hope that I turn up on the day and play how I know that I can play.”
Meanwhile, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced this week that snooker clubs in England can now re-open.
Picture by Andy Chubb