Snooker: O'Sullivan gives pool precedence

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The world No 1 will not be taking a complete break from the green baize, as he threatened to earlier this year, but he is committed to only four tournaments in the next 12 months: the Grand Prix, which starts in Preston on Saturday, the UK championships, the Masters and the World Championships. Most of the rest of his time will be spent across the Atlantic.

"There's an art to pool and a lot more tactics to it, which I need to learn. But I have got the time to do that," he said. O'Sullivan's last appearance in a major event was his World Championships quarter-final loss to Peter Ebdon, which he lost 13-11 after being 8-3 ahead. He spoke afterwards about needing time away and said he was "90 per cent sure" he would give the 2005-06 season a miss.

"Pool is a new challenge and it has rejuvenated me," the 29-year-old said, adding that he was "awful" at pool but would relish the challenge. Part of the reason that O'Sullivan has not abandoned snooker altogether is a one-year, six-figure sponsorship deal that sees him rejoin the 110Sport management stable, four years after an acrimonious split from the same group.

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