Romford snooker star King slammed the government for the closure of golf courses

Romford's Mark King assesses his options (pic Nigel French/PA)

Romford's Mark King assesses his options (pic Nigel French/PA) - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Mark King slammed the Government for keeping golf courses closed and believes being deprived from his favourite escape from snooker is costing him matches on the baize.

The Romford player was forced to withdraw from last week’s German Masters qualifying after testing positive for coronavirus and lost his first round match at the Northern Ireland Open 4-2 against Zak Surety.

World No.43 King is an avid golfer away from the table and plays off a handicap of 13, juggling his time between potting and putting in between major events.

Golf courses remain shut during Britain’s second lockdown and King let rip at the ‘pathetic’ Government for denying him access to his No.1 pastime.

“I’m struggling a little bit with my confidence,” said the 46-year-old.

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“I love playing golf and it’s such a great release to have. When snooker’s going badly sometimes you can have nine holes or go up the range and hit some balls. I just don’t see why the driving ranges can’t be open.

“You could do every other bay and get the balls out of the ball machine. It’s pathetic, absolutely pathetic. Why don’t they just keep it to two balls like they did at the beginning?

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“I love it, I love the banter. I go out with a few lads on a Saturday morning, eight of us and it’s a real good bit of banter. It’s a really good thing but with nothing being open and the gym being shut, you end up wallowing in your own self-pity sometimes.

“That’s what I think I’m in. I just struggled a bit today and couldn’t really get any flow going. It’s disappointing – when you’re struggling and you need a bit of confidence nothing seems to go right.

“You either get on with it or you put your cue away and don’t pick it up again. I’m not ready for that – I’ve been here before when I’ve lost a few matches and my confidence is a bit low, and it just takes a couple of wins and you forget all about it.”

King took the lead with a steady break of 56 but efforts of 63 and 51 from Surety, ranked over 70 places below the 2016 Northern Ireland Open champion, inflicted him with his second consecutive first round defeat at a ranking event.

Next up for King is a tilt at the prestigious UK Championship, also being held in Milton Keynes – rather than its traditional York venue – as snooker continues to adapt to Covid-19 restrictions.

He’ll face world No.88 David Lilley at the Marshall Arena and despite being ranked 45 places above his opponent, King reckons rankings are deceptive and another sub-par performance will send him back to Romford prematurely.

Watch the Northern Ireland Open live on Eurosport, Eurosport app, and stream on discovery+

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