Gray goes head to head with a legend

Mark Gray.

Mark Gray.

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Mark Gray is going head to head with a pool legend for a place in the Mosconi Cup.

The player who tops the European rankings will qualify to take on the United States at Alexandra Palace in December and Gray has had his lead slashed to three points by Niels Feijen following the latest European Tour event in Rotterdam.

Gray went into that tournament with a 17-point lead but while he could only manage fifth place, Feijen went on to win it.

The next event on the European tour is the Leende Open that gets underway in Holland on September 29 and for Gray, the equation is simple.

The 43 year-old from Bourne said: “I have to match Niels’ performance to finish top of the rankings.

“It’s a big ask. Niels is winning everything at the moment. He is a former world champion and whenever I play him I feel he is a slight favourite.

“He has a big break and has more pool knowhow than me.”

Feijen has played pool throughout his cue sports career, while Gray comes from a snooker background.

He said: “The highest I reached in the snooker rankings was 67 in the world and while I could probably make a living at snooker now, it was harder nine or 10 years ago.

“There weren’t any sponsors around then and so there wasn’t as much money in the sport.”

Gray has been a successful convert to pool.

He’s won six European Tour events and twice been part of a Mosconi Cup-winning team, in 2008 and 2014.

Gray said: “Every year, the Mosconi Cup is the goal. The money isn’t great on the pool tour and the Mosconi Cup is the best pay-day and the biggest tournament.”

If he doesn’t qualify for the Mosconi Cup in Holland, Gray still has a chance.

He said: “I can still qualify through the World Tour events. It’s up to me whether or not I want to do the travelling and if there’s a chance of qualifying for the Mosconi Cup, I probably would.

“There are also two wild cards awarded every year.

“I have been very consistent this season and I would like to think I deserve a wild card if I don’t qualify outright.

“I’m No 1 in the UK and the European Tour.”