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Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters: New 'fourth major' to launch this August on World Snooker Tour

Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters to be held in Riyadh from August 31-September 7; New event will join UK Championship, Masters and World Championship as the 'fourth major' on the World Snooker Tour schedule

Image: Ronnie O'Sullivan won the last two major titles, the UK Championship in December and Masters in January

Saudi Arabia will stage its first ranking snooker event later this year, with the inaugural Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters boasting a prize fund of more than £2million.

That puts the tournament behind only the World Championship in terms of prize money, with the World Snooker Tour branding it the 'fourth major' alongside the traditional triple crown of World Championship, UK Championship and Masters.

A 10-year deal has been agreed for the event, which will take place from August 31 to September 7 in Riyadh and is open to the all 128 tour players, plus six local wildcards.

The Riyadh Season World Masters, a non-ranking event limited to the world's top eight, will take place in March and features a new 'golden ball' which could increase the maximum break to 167.

This year's World Pool Championship will also be staged in Jeddah from June 3-8.

Matchroom Sport chairman Eddie Hearn said: "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has forged a reputation for growth and creating new opportunities for sports to grow in a new market to new fans.

Ronnie O'Sullivan has continued to question his snooker future after a tough win at the World Grand Prix
Image: O'Sullivan has won 23 Triple Crown titles

"The country has hosted some of the world's premier sporting events in recent years, welcoming visitors from all over to experience its passion for sport and unique culture.

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"The addition of both the Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters and World Pool Championship over the next decade further enhances that as it heralds an exciting chapter for snooker and nine-ball pool.

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Sky Sports's Kaveh Solhekol explains why Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said last year he does not care about accusations of sportswashing after the increasing growth of sports in the country.

"We have seen the incredible impact boxing has had in this region. Now, I believe we will see billiards cement its legacy here too, creating incredible opportunities and competition for the finest players on the planet."

Ronnie O'Sullivan won the UK Championship in December and claimed Masters victory a month later, and now has the chance to win all three Triple Crown events in the same season for the first time when he aims for a record eighth World Championship title later this year.

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David Beckham talks of going to the snooker halls with his teammates after Manchester United training and feels Ronnie O'Sullivan could be the greatest snooker player of all time.

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