STUART Bingham says his grandmother could have beaten him after he meekly exited the Masters to John Higgins.
The man they call Ball Run came into the event on the back of a superb finish to 2013 but he wilted against the legendary Scot, whose own recent form has been mediocre.
World number seven Bingham had made the semis of the UK Championships and was runner-up in the Champion of Champions but admitted he barely deserved to be on the big stage in a 6-2 first-round defeat at the Alexandra Palace.
“My nan was in the crowd tonight and she could have beaten me the way I played out there, it was diabolical,” he said.
“It was just a bad day at the office, it’s just one of those things really, I have been putting in the hours but this is back to the drawing board. The break has probably come at the wrong time for me, considering how 2013 finished for me. This is a bit of a shock.”
In five appearances at the Masters, Bingham is still awaiting his first quarter-final appearance and four-time world champion Higgins proved too strong.
The Wizard of Wishaw, who is down at number 12 in the world rankings, reeled off breaks of 109, 94, 65 and 50 on his way to victory.
Bingham, 37, from Vange, is all too aware of his disappointing record at the Masters, and with his usual large support in the crowd, he admitted that the pressure of that might be starting to get to him.
“The Masters has never been all that kind to me,” he added.
“But you are playing against the best of the best, so if you do not produce your game out on the table then you are going to lose.
“I had a lot of support out there with family and friends and I think in the end I was just trying a bit too hard.
“By the end I don’t think I really deserved to be out there, it was comical with some of the balls I was missing. But this will give me a kick up the backside. I will come back stronger.”
Higgins, who has won just one ranking title since capturing his fourth World Championship crown in 2011, said a new cue has helped rejuvenate his game.
The two-time Masters winner, 38, said: “I played better than I have in recent months.
“Stuart didn’t play well, maybe there was a bit of extra pressure on him as he was the seeded player and expected to win.
“I was in the depths of despair after the UK Championship and I had been in turmoil for a couple of months, so I decided to change cue again.
“I practised hard with it over Christmas and I feel a lot more confident and positive now. I felt my tempo at the table coming back, and when that happens you can see how to make breaks.”
Higgins goes forward to meet defending champion Mark Selby in the quarter-finals.
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