MARCUS CAMPBELL exited the UK Snooker Championship hours after witnessing the sudden death of a close friend in a York hotel.

The qualifier from Dumbarton had considered pulling out of the Barbican tournament, but the wife of his late travelling companion urged him to continue in her husband’s memory.

A tearful Campbell lost 6-2 to Welshman Matthew Stevens on Saturday and then admitted he was struggling to come to terms with a “surreal” day.

“My nervous system had gone out there,” said the world number 26. “It’s been a double disaster. My manager’s wife died a few weeks ago and she was buried in the morning and then what happened at lunchtime was unbelievable.

“When you are out there, you are trying, but I couldn’t get his face out of my head after what I had seen. Matt made me sit there for a long time and I was just thinking about it.”

Campbell somehow managed to hold himself together in the early stages, firing a break of 101 to level at 1-1 after Stevens had taken the first frame with a run of 59. Stevens then knocked in a 136, only for Campbell to take a scrappy fourth frame and go into the interval all-square.

The match swung in Stevens’ favour midway through frame five when Campbell, on a break of 50, missed a straightforward pink into the middle bag.

A classy clearance won Stevens the frame and he amassed 303 unanswered points – including a break of 63, a faultless 140 and an 81 – as he swept to a 6-2 success.

Stevens, who plays Ding Junhui in round two tomorrow, paid tribute to his opponent.

“Snooker doesn’t mean anything after what happened to Marcus,” he said. “It was a horrible situation to be in.”

On his own performance, he added: “I was a bit up and down. I made a couple of mistakes, but I feel comfortable and I’m not afraid of anyone.”