SNOOKER: Stuart Bingham says friendship will be put on hold in the first tournament of the new World Snooker season.

The Bowers Gifford potter takes on close friend Mark Davis in the first round of the Riga Masters, in Latvia today (1pm start).

Bingham came through two qualifying matches in comfortable fashion, but faces a big step up in quality against Davis, who is currently world number 37.

But Bingham, ranked ninth for the new campaign, said he is prepared for the test.

“I am really excited to get started,” he said.

“It has felt like quite a while since I have played but once you are at the table hitting balls you know an event is just around the corner.

“Mark is a tough opponent. He has got better with age and is a good friend of mine as well. We play a bit of golf and are in the process of trying to sort out a game at the moment, funnily enough.

“It is quite hard in these kind of matches not to have a laugh and a joke and a bit of banter!

“But I expect a tough match. I can only control what I am in control of, I have to put friendship to one side and look to win.”

Bingham flew out to Latvia yesterday.

And he said, while his game is not perfect yet, it won’t take him long.

“Latvia is a beautiful country and the people are really passionate about their snooker which is also important as the players pick up on that,” he added.

“My game is not 100 per cent but it doesn’t take long to get into the swing of things.”