STUART BINGHAM will be looking to sneak ahead in his all-square career head-to-head record with good friend Mark Davis in Latvia this week.
Ballrun, 41, and the Battler from Hastings, 44, have played 22 times and it is 11 wins apiece heading into the best-of-seven at the Kaspersky Riga Masters on Friday morning (June 23).
They can barley be split on frames won either, with Bingham on 76 and Davis 73 – or on the golf course for that matter.
Davis is world ranked number 37 and has reached four ranking semi-finals and has won the Six-Red World Championship three times, and Bingham is braced for another nip-and-tuck battle.
The world No 9, who beat Li Hang to book his place at the Arena Riga, said: “Mark is just a solid player, he is consistently seven out of ten and you just have to play very well to beat him. I guess that is why the record is so close.
“And we are good friends too, with go for meals together and our wives get on, and I share the same birthday as his son.
“I’ve played him at golf at few times in the past. It is pretty even there too, although I did used to get the better of him a bit when I was playing off five or six.”
Bingham reached the last 16 last year in his one showing at the Riga Masters, beating Fergal O’Brien before losing to eventual finalist Michael Holt.
And the Basildon pro admits a good run this time at the season opener – which has a £50,000 top prize – would set him up nicely for the season.
He added: “I know a few of the players are missing it because of holidays and stuff, but I am looking forward to it.
“To get a win under your belt here means you can then just look ahead to the rest of the year knowing you have a title in the bag.
“My game is not 100 per cent yet but it is getting there and I am working hard with my coach Terry Griffiths to iron out some techincal issues and a few bad habits, as well as the mental approach to the game.”
* The fundraiser Bingham took part in this month for the Motor Neurone Disease Association raised more than £7,000 and he would like to say a huge thank you to organiser Peter Ward and all who contributed.