STEPHEN Lee paid tribute to Steve Davis after dumping the six-time world champion out of next month’s tournament at Sheffield’s Crucible theatre.
Davis, who reached the quarter-final stage last year, was beaten 10-2 by his Trowbridge opponent during the qualifiers at the nearby English Institute of Sport.
Lee, who had led 8-0 at one point in the match, said: “Steve loves the game. It’s in his blood and he still looks the part.
“He knows his way around the table and I didn’t want to get drawn into a battle with him. I got ahead early though and my scoring way good.”
Lee added: “It’s a magnificent feeling to beat someone of Steve’s class. I kept him frozen out.
“I’m definitely getting back to my old form. I’ve only lost one qualifier this season.”
Lee, ranked number 21 in the world, recorded breaks of 105, 98 and 84 en route to his victory.
Davis will now finish the season outside of the top 32.
The draw for the competition proper is scheduled to take place at Wembley Stadium later this month.
Matthew Stevens, Dominic Dale and Dave Harold joined Lee in qualifying.
Andrew Padgett and Jimmy Robertson, who stunned Ken Doherty 10-6 in the final qualifying round, will be making their Crucible debuts.