Name: Dave Harold
DOB: 9th December 1966
Turned Pro: 1991
Highest Ranking: #11 (1996-7)
Highest Break: 143 (2007 Grand Prix)
Career Highlights: 1993 Asia Open Champion, 1994 Grand Prix finalist, 2008 Northern Ireland Trophy finalist, 1998 UK Championship semi-finalist, 1998 & 1999 Grand Prix semi-finalist, 1996 British Open semi-finalist, 1996 World Championship quarter-finalist
An impressive amateur, Dave turned professional for the 1991/2 season and immediately began to record some strong results, highlighted by a run to the last 32 of the Grand Prix which helped him up to 93rd in the rankings.
His second season though was to be spectacular as he became the lowest ranked player to win a ranking event at the 1993 Asian Open in Bangkok. Having already won four matches to qualify for the event, he defeated Dene O’Kane, Stephen Hendry, Paul Tanner and Paul Davies to reach the final where he would thrash Darren Morgan 9-3 to lift the title. A tremendous achievement that is unlikely to ever be beaten, he followed this up with a semi-final in the next event and moved up to 50th in the rankings.
1993/4 was not to bring more silverware, but consistent results including a Welsh Open quarter-final and a début at the Crucible where he beat David Roe to reach the last 16 moved him up to the world top 20 where he would remain for several years.
His second ranking event final was to come at the Grand Prix during the following season, though he lost out to future world champion John Higgins who took his first title that night. This, along with other strong results did at least move him up into the elite top 16 for the first time in his career at 13th position.
In 1995/6 he built on this by reaching two semi-finals and three quarter-finals, including a career best run at the Crucible which was ultimately ended by eventual finalist Nigel Bond. Although he was now up to a career high ranking of 11th, things started to go downhill after this as he endured a couple of difficult seasons, resulting in him dropping of the top 16.
1998/9 however saw a return to form for the Stoke Potter as he reached the semi-finals of both the Grand Prix and UK Championship to put himself in the frame for a return to the elite group. Unfortunately this was ended when he failed to qualify for the World Championship, but another strong season in 1999/2000 saw him move up to 13th the following year as Dave played what he has said to be the best snooker of his career.
Masters run and subsequent decline
While his fortunes were to again suffer on the ranking circuit, Dave did enjoy a spectacular run to the semi-finals of the invitational Benson and Hedges Masters tournament in 2001. Having defeated John Higgins in the opening round, he then played out a dramatic quarter-final with John Parrott where he came back from the brink of defeat at 5-1 to snatch a 6-5 win on a re-spotted black. Dave celebrated this match as much as any in his career and moved into the semi-finals of the competition for the first time as a result, though unfortunately his run was to end against Irishman Fergal O’Brien.
From this point though he struggled to find his best form as he again lost his top 16 place at the end of the season. Following a broken wrist in 2003, his decline at one stage appeared to be terminal as he slid out of the top 32 and came close to losing his top 48 place as he dropped to 45th for 2005/6.
Dave slowly began to turn things round however and enjoyed a stronger season in 2006/7 that helped him back up into the top 32.
The following season things were even better as he reached the quarter-final stage of both the Shanghai Masters and the Grand Prix tournament before defeating world champion Graeme Dott at the UK Championship at the end of the year. Qualification for the World Championship at the Crucible ensured that he again kept his top 32 place, moving up to 28th, his highest position since 2004.
2008/9 – Third final
Despite his improved form I doubt that even he could have seen what would come at the start of 2008/9. Armed with a new cue, he defeated Ricky Walden, Graeme Dott, Stephen Lee, Stephen Maguire and John Higgins to reach his first ranking final in 14 years at the Northern Ireland Trophy.
Dave at the 2009 China Open
Although he lost out to world number one Ronnie O’Sullivan, Dave had done enough to put himself provisionally back into the top 16 of the rankings and he maintained this form during the next couple of events with some superb performances in qualifying.
Unfortunately for Dave however, while he went on to win his opening match in an impressive six ranking events, the two that he did lose were against Rory McLeod in the UK Championship and Liang Wenbo in the World Championship. As these two events carried significantly more ranking points than the others, Dave just fell short of returning to the top 16.
As he lost out to Liang, the commonly held view was that Dave’s last big chance of reclaiming a top 16 spot had gone and three defeats from three at the start of the 2009/10 season did little to disprove that theory.
Dave in the balls on his way to a 5-0 whitewash of Stephen Maguire at the 2009 China Open
By the end of the season Dave’s sole victory was a Welsh Open success against Stuart Pettman, a result that although securing his place among the top 32 for 2010/11, did little to help his one-year ranking.
Having struggled during the previous season to win his opening match, 2010/11 was to prove more successful for Dave as he won at least one match during each of the eight ranking tournaments staged, including the two major events staged.
Most impressive was a 3-0 win against Shaun Murphy at the World Open which helped to ensure that he would just remain ranked inside the world’s top 48 players at the first mid-season cut-off, something that looked unlikely in the summer with the points from his Northern Ireland Trophy final in 2008 set to be removed.
Dave at the 2010 Shanghai Masters
He could not maintain this position at the season’s second cut-off point following a 9-4 defeat to James Wattana in qualifying for the UK Championship but wins during the German Masters before a last 16 run at the Welsh Open helped Dave back up to 45th place ahead of the season-ending World Championship.
In qualifying for the Crucible he defeated both Jamie Jones and Gerard Greene 10-9 to qualify for the Crucible for the first time since 2008 before losing heavily there to Ali Carter 10-3. He had at least done enough to retain a top 48 place at the season’s end, finishing in 48th place.
Dave experienced a tough start to the 2011/12 season, losing his opening match at each of the first four full ranking tournaments staged including at the UK Championship when he suffered a 6-3 reverse against Adrian Gunnell.
Dave at the 2011 PTC2 event in Gloucester
He was however to perform more strongly during the PTC events, reaching the quarter-final stages of both PTC5 and PTC10 to get some important ranking points on the board.
After Christmas, Dave improved with runs to the final qualifying rounds of both the Haikou World Open and Welsh Open tournaments, while he also embarked upon a surprise run to the semi-finals of the Shoot Out in Blackpool.
His campaign however was to end on a low note as he lost out 10-9 to Cao Yupeng in a dramatic opening round qualifier at the World Championship in Sheffield, though he had done enough to just move back inside the world’s top 48.
Dave was to enjoy a strong start to the 2012/13 season by qualifying for the venue stages of the Wuxi Classic, before suffering a disappointing defeat to wildcard Rouzi Maimaiti. Following that event, Dave was able to make it to the final qualifying round of the following three full-ranking events, before securing a return to a venue at the German Masters with victories against Craig Steadman and Ryan Day.
Dave in action at the 2012 UKPTC1 event against Mark Selby
In the PTC events, Dave’s best results were to be a couple of last 16 runs, the first at the UKPTC1 event in Gloucester, with the second coming in Sofia at the ET4 event. His results were enough to see him retain a place inside the world’s top 48 at the turn of the year.
Dave would experience a tough opening half to 2013 however, as he lost his last four matches in ranking event competition, notably at the World Championship qualifiers, where he was defeated 10-9 by Alfie Burden in a topsy turvy match. As a result, Dave would finish the campaign ranked in 50th position.
Ranking Event wins (1)
|Nescafe Asian Open||1993|