Shaun’s Session With United Stars

SHAUN Murphy yesterday warmed up for a PTC double-header – by taking on Manchester United and England stars Michael Owen and Michael Carrick…

Shaun, who plays Ashley Wright in the first round at PTC 12 today, is a regular at Old Trafford and was delighted to get the chance to have a couple of frames with the famous footballing duo at Rileys in Altrincham.

He said: “It was a great opportunity as a United fan to meet both of the guys – and it’s great that they’re both interested in snooker.

“I gave them a few pointers in the right direction and took them both on against me. It was a really good afternoon and it’s nice to meet people from different sports.”

Owen’s prowess in front of goal is renowned, as is Carrick’s midfield quality for the Reds. But how did the pair shape up on the baize?

The Magician revealed: “I would think Michael Owen is the better snooker player of the two. He’s been playing since he was young, so he had a bit of an advantage there.

“He said he’d once had a break of 64 and from the questions that he was asking, I would say he really knows what he’s talking about.

“He plays quite often, but I think both of them showed that they could be useful players.”

Today will see him contesting the early stages of PTC 12 – the last 16 of whom will proceed to Munich for the concluding stages in early January.

Then, on Saturday, he will begin his challenge to win PTC 11, which snooker fans will be able to see either ‘live’ at the venue or on Eurosport.

The two events are all important to Shaun’s 2011-12 challenge in the series. Players need to make it into the top-24 on the PTC order of merit to qualify for next March’s Finals – and the Magician, who emerged as champion last year, is currently just the wrong side of the cut.

He said: “I want to finish the year on a high with the PTCs and I’ve definitely got something to play for. Having won (the PTC Finals) last year, if I wasn’t to make it into the top-24 and give myself a chance of defending my title, I would be very disappointed.

“But I’m quietly confident about this weekend. My game is in good shape and if I do get chances I’m more than capable of taking them.”