A GOOD way to annoy a snooker champion is to ask how his pool tournament went.
“I know nothing about pool, I’ve never even played it,” Australia’s fourth ranked amateur snooker player Peter McCullagh said.
“They’re completely different games.”
Once a professional snooker player in his native UK, McCullagh is heading to Qatar to represent Oceania in the World Amateur Championships.
The City of Armadale has provided a small $150 stipend to help the Piara Waters resident pay for his trip.
Costs definitely rack up as McCullagh has represented Australia in Egypt, Thailand and China this year alone.
It is a labour of love as dividends are not as rich on the amateur end.
“If I won this tournament in Qatar I’d walk away with about US$10,000,” McCullagh said.
“But the winner of a professional world championship…we’re looking at $600,000-$700,000 a tournament.”
Although snooker has failed to catch the Australian publics’ imagination, McCullagh said many of the best professional snooker players in the world were Australian.
“The current amateur world champion, his games in China were watched by a huge live audience and broadcast to hundreds of millions of people,” he said.
“He received a standing ovation from passengers on his flight.”
When he landed home in Melbourne, however, he walked straight through the airport.
“Nobody had any idea who he was,” McCullagh said.
Amateur snooker players fit work around practise and tournaments.
McCullagh practises for up to three hours a day at Pot Black in Cannington.
Some players are also encouraging young people into the local snooker scene by visiting schools and offering coaching.
McCullagh admitted snooker is a very difficult game that takes immense skill and concentration.
“It can be very mentally draining. But when you get into that mindset, where everything just disappears there’s nothing like it,” he said.
Described by different people as a game or a piece of art McCullagh said snooker required a player to capture a moment of pure concentration.
“Snooker audiences are very quiet,” he said.
“You know, someone in the audience is trying to slowly open a sweet wrapper and you try not to laugh because you know the referee is going to call them out.”
Peter The World Amateur Championships in Qatar run from November 18-29.