Michael Holt is one of the nicest people you could meet on the snooker circuit and this is perhaps one of the reasons he has underachieved during his professional career.
Three ranking event quarter-finals is a poor return for a player as talented as Holt but he still has plenty of time to make amends and produced an encouraging performance to beat Fergal O’Brien – last year’s runner-up – in the Northern Ireland Trophy yesterday.
His reward is a clash with defending champion Stephen Maguire live on Eurosport and TG4 this afternoon.
Holty (as he is inevitably known) is notoriously nervy. He lets things get on top of him and I’m sure he would accept that he has, at times, beaten himself.
However, in my opinion he is, in terms of talent, good enough to have been a top 16 player and although he is now outside the top 32 he can still deliver on that potential.
What Holty has to do is heed Steve Davis’s sage advice: play like it means nothing when it means everything.
Of course, this is far easier to say than actually do. Holt’s various temperamental meltdowns are well documented and I won’t annoy him further by documenting them here.
What he needs is to believe in himself: he is a very talented snooker player capable of great things.
That he has not, as yet, achieved them is a sign of the pressure these guys are under.
Handling that pressure is key to success in a game that is often said to be played in the head.
If Michael can keep his head together he is capable of beating Maguire and going a long way in Belfast.
We’ll find out whether that ‘if’ becomes a reality this afternoon.