SCOTT DONALDSON hasn’t lost sight of the bigger picture. The much bigger picture.

“I just love how small we are as humans, like little ants crawling around on a pebble,” he offers. “That’s all we are really when you consider our place in the grander scheme of things.”

If snooker is Donaldson’s profession then it is astronomy that is his passion. Alongside an admiration for those at the top of his sport like Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump, the 26 year-old reveals his heroes to be physicist Professor Brian Cox and the former American cosmologist Carl Sagan.

The world number 25 has endured an up-and-down year, the elation in March at winning the first tournament of his eight-year professional career – the Championship League - quickly eroded by the onset of the pandemic and the lockdown that followed.

His love of astronomy, however, has helped put things into perspective, to appreciate what is truly significant and what ought to be considered nothing more than a minor bump on a much longer journey.

“The event I won was the very last tournament before the virus kicked in and everything got put on hold,” he recalled. “So if it had been a few weeks later then who knows if they would have got it finished. The timing worked out pretty well for me in that way.

“But then everything stopped and it put paid to any momentum. I was feeling really good and playing well and the qualifiers for the world championships were due to be held the month after.

“And then I had three or four months of training in the club in near darkness with nobody else there. And, although I played well when the qualifiers eventually came around, I just knew in my head I wasn’t going to get through.

“But this year has been the same for everyone so there’s no point me moaning about it too much. Everyone has suffered. I’m just happy to be playing snooker. I’m one of the lucky ones.”

Donaldson had already resigned himself to going through his career without ever lifting a trophy. Success, though, arrived the hard way, the Perth player defeating world number one Trump and former world champion Neil Robertson on his way to beating fellow Scot Graeme Dott in the final.

“It was nice just to show I could do it,” he adds. “I had played for a while and never won anything. It’s just so difficult as the best players are so far in front of everyone else.

“Honestly, I had probably resigned myself to never winning anything. I kept getting to semis and finals but then the standard of play was too high for me when I got there. I always felt like I was playing well but still ended up on the early train home.

“So to win after beating Robertson, Trump and then Dott in the final let me know that I was doing the right things. It was just about feeling that you’re capable.”

His reward for that success comes this week with an inaugural appearance in the Champion of Champions event, played this year in Milton Keynes behind closed doors.

“I’m looking forward to it as it’s like an extra bonus on top of winning a tournament, although I’m playing Mark Allen and I’ve got a really bad record against him,” he reveals. “I think he’s beaten me every time we’ve played. So I’m due a win against him.

“If I get through I could face Ronnie and would love that as I’ve not played him since my very first season. It would be good to see where I am against him now.”

Being in the tournament bubble has also given him time to catch up on some not-so-light reading.

“I’m really into astronomy and all that stuff, “he reveals. “One of my heroes was Carl Sagan - the way he presented his science programmes was out of this world.

“It’s just a hobby that I got into gradually although once I stop playing I’m going to look into doing a PhD on it as I think I would really enjoy it.

“I’ve got plenty of time between matches to read up on it. You look at Brian Cox who was in bands and used to take physics books with him when he was on tour. And it’s kind of similar with myself. Snooker is my main priority but it’s good to have something else going on to keep you occupied.”