TWELVE days after regaining his Tour Card at the Robin Park Tennis Centre, Wigan, Simon Stevenson returned to the same venue yesterday to contest the first qualifying round of the UK Open and produced another outstanding performance.
Friday’s qualifier was the first of six £60,000 tournaments which will be held over the next two weekends as PDC Tour Card Holders and PDPA Associate Members compete for spots in the Coral UK Open.
The top 96 players in the order of merit, based on prizemoney won from the six qualifiers, along with 32 grass roots players who will qualify through the various Rileys outlets around the country, will make up the 128-strong field that will contest the Coral UK Open at Butlins, Minehead, over the weekend of March 2-4.
OUSTANDING: An outstanding performance from Simon Stevenson in the Coral UK Open Qualifier One, enabled him to finish the opening day in the top 10 of the Order of Merit.
Stevenson was gifted a bye in the round of 512 before having to meet Ryan Joyce.
The 32-year-old Newcastle thrower who had won his own Tour Card at Q School was previously on the BDO tour and was the 2017 BDO Gold Cup winner as well as making the last 32 of that year’s world championships.
The tie, not surprisingly, went the full distance but it was the Mirrorman who progressed with a 6-5 victory.
He then dispatched Mark Lawrence 6-0 before meeting the 30-year-old Braintree marksman Barry Lynn.
Lynn had a good record in this competition, having reached the quarter-finals of the 2016 UK Open, taking the scalp of Gary Anderson on route, but that form counted for nothing as Stevenson blew him away 6-2.
Stuart Kellett, a former winner of the Scottish and Antwerp Opens was Stevenson’s opponent in the last 32 and with his best performance of the day, the Plymouth marksman won 6-0, finishing with a 97.00 average.
Stevenson’s opponent in the last 16 was the World No.1 Michael van Gerwen who had reached this stage of the competition boasting an average of 106.7.
The Dutchman maintained that form when winning the first three legs in 14, 14 and 15 before Stevenson showed good form of his own.
He won the fourth leg in 15 before taking the next in 17 against the darts.
Stevenson then drew level at 3-3 with a brilliant 12-dart leg when he scored 60, 180, 100 before finishing at the first time of asking from 161.
Unfortunately, that was the last leg that the Plymothian won as van Gerwen progressed when taking the next three in 15, 16 and 13 for a 6-3 victory before going on to defeat Michael Smith in the final and scoop the winner’s cheque of £10,000.
Stevenson finished the day having hit five maximums and an overall average of 90.40 but is was certainly not all doom and gloom for the Mirrorman.
He won prizemoney of £1,500 and only seven players finished above him in the order of merit with the likes of Corey Cadby, James Wade, Mervyn King and Robert Thornton, all beneath him.
The Coral UK Open Qualifier Two commences today at 12 noon.