STUART BINGHAM says it was a wrench to miss only his third tournament in five years this week – but admitted it was time to finally take a breather after a grueling couple of months on Tour.
Ballrun beat Neil Robertson (4-2) but lost his second match to Ding Junhui (6-4) at the Champion of Champions last week after driving to Coventry just 24 hours after arriving home from China.
And the world No 2, who had just lost to John Higgins in the China Championship final, admits the rigours of the Tour finally caught up with him against Ding and that is why he pulled out of this week’s Coral Northern Ireland Open.
He said: “The last event I missed was the China Open when my father-in-law passed away in 2014 and the one before that was the Paul Hunter Classic in Germany five years ago when my son was born. I really don’t miss many.
“But I realised at the Champion of Champions that I was just running on empty and needed to take a break so I took a week off completely and only started practicing again yesterday.
“I spent five or six weeks working really hard to get my Champion of Champions spot and finally got my place a couple of weeks before it started, and because of that I did not get perhaps the best draw in terms of how my schedule panned out.
“I played well against Neil and carried on my good form from recently and I think the adrenaline carried me across the line.
“Then I stopped and had a bit of food with my manager Gary before I started playing Ding, and it suddenly hit me at 2-1 up just how tired I was.
“Gary pointed out afterwards that my body clock was at about 5am by then and as soon as I got in the car to go home I crashed out and fell asleep.
“I was still gutted to lose against Ding because even if I was just at 50 per cent I felt I could have won.
“But I just needed a rest and that is why I’m not in Belfast this week, which is a shame because it is a great place with nice people – and I’m hating having to watch it all on TV!
“It looks like a good tournament again and I can’t see past either John Higgins winning again here or Ronnie O’Sullivan of course.”
Bingham next plays against Poland’s Adam Stefanow, 22, at the Betway UK Championship at the York Barbican on Thursday, November 24. Stefanow has just lost 4-2 to Jamie Cope in the opening round in Belfast.
It is also an exciting time away from the table for Bingham as his wife Michelle is due to give birth to a little girl on January 8.
The couple discussed baby names recently and Bingham had a specific reason for ruling out the suggestion ‘Willo’.
He explained: “It is what we call Mark Williams on Tour so there is no way I want her to be called that!
“The pregnancy is something we have kept fairly quite about and John Higgins didn’t know until I told him at the final in China.
“But obviously it is something we are thrilled with and we can’t wait to extend our family in the new year.”