Former Shoot Out champion Michael Holt prioritizes enjoyment as he fights for Tour return

After suffering a shock relegation from the professional circuit, Michael Holt has set his sights on an immediate return to the World Snooker Tour as he prepares for Q School.

Holt, alongside other notable names such as Kurt Maflin and Fergal O'Brien, lost his place on the circuit following an early exit during last month's World Championship qualifiers. 

The former world number 20 fell to a 6-3 loss against Tom Ford in a match which would have secured his place on the tour had he won.

Holt joined the tour in 1996, but admitted that the level of pressure in this year's qualifiers was unprecedented.

He told World Snooker: "I was disappointed, but I can't put it on that match. I shouldn't have been in that position going into the World Championship. It is my own fault and it is heartbreaking to have dropped off.

"I am where I am. I now have to go to Q School and get through. My game is still there. What can I do? I just have to prepare for it and see how I go.

"The situation completely took away any thoughts about the Crucible. All I wanted was to save my tour spot and it was all or nothing. You have to win your matches and I didn't. It happens every year to players and this time it happened to me. I tried and I failed.

"The pressure of a final is trying to win the event, with a worst-case scenario of a nice cheque. The pressure of falling off tour brings a different feeling. It is more heartbreak if it doesn't go right.

Michael Holt (ENG) looks at the scoreboard during his first round match

"I actually played alright at the World Championship. If you let it come down to one event, the balls can go the wrong way and you can lose. That wasn't why I fell off, it was what came before."

The 43-year-old, who won the 2020 Snooker Shoot Out, also revealed he hopes to get more enjoyment out of the sport should he win back his place on the tour.

He added: "You don't know what you have until it has gone. As much as I have been appreciative of snooker over the years, I haven't enjoyed it anywhere near as much as I should have. It's a tragedy that I haven't enjoyed it more, as I don't have that many good memories. It has been a bit of an ordeal at times. Life is too short.

"It means a lot to everyone. Even the guys who make out that they don't care like Mark Williams, do care and it means a lot to them. I can't say that I want it too much or that I should have done more. In anyone's career, you achieve what you deserve.

"It is the underperforming that kills you, not the losing. Ronnie O'Sullivan has lost more events than he has won and he is the best player in history. You can get contentment from doing as well as you can.

"I've said all the way through this nightmare, that the game is there. I thought to drop off tour I would have to be completely gone in every way and that hasn't been the case.

"It is about results and I just haven't got them. When I allow myself to play, I am performing at a very high level. It is all about allowing myself to play well, that is the battle. If I take the shackles off then I'll be alright."

Q school gets underway on Monday, with Holt taking to the table on Tuesday. The Nottingham-born player will face either Deng Haihui or Nattanapong Chaikul.

READ MORE: Ronnie O'Sullivan will 'definitely break the record' for most Crucible wins

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