THE Coral UK Open, which boasts a prize-fund of £350,000, commences tomorrow through till Sunday, at the Butlins Minehead Resort and Plymouth’s Simon Stevenson will be among the elite field.
He finished the first three qualifiers well within the top 96 who will be joined by 32 Rileys qualifiers from around the country to make up the starting field of 128, but surpassed that performance the following weekend with arguably the best showing of his PDC career and will be seeded in the top 32.
The Mirrorman began well in qualifier four with a 6-1 victory over Steven Kirby followed by wins against Colin Littlecott (6-2) and Adam Hunt (6-3) before he met Mervyn King.
Stevenson found himself 2-0 down after the early exchanges but moved 3-2 in front with wins in 11, 13 and 14.
King pulled it back and the two players were all level at 5-5, before the Plymouth marksman won in 13 darts, producing a match average of 99.20.
Progress was halted in the next though when he was beaten by the former BDO World Champion Steve Beaton.
SEEDED: An excellent performance in the UK Open qualifiers enabled Simon Stevenson to be seeded in the top 32 for the finals which begin on Friday at the Butlins Minehead Resort.
His form dipped in qualifier five when he lost 6-3 to Peter Wright after defeating Eddie Dootson and Dawson Murschell both 6-2, but qualifier six was a different day . . . probably the best day Stevenson has ever experienced on the oche.
It began with a defeat of Steffan Siepmann and the German was blown away 6-0 when Stevenson won in 12, 14, 14, 16, 12 and 13 to post his highest ever PDC match average of 111.33
He then came up against Jelle Klaasen who had beaten Stevenson on the previous three occasions they had met, but the Dutchman could not handle the Mirrorman this time around and bowed out 6-2 after Simon had gone 5-1 up with a checkout of 105.
Keegan Brown, who already boasts career PDC prizemoney of over £135,000 at the age of 25 was Stevenson’s opponent in the last 64 and the match score stood at 3-3, before he cleaned up when taking the last three legs in 15, 13 and 13 for a 98.40 match average.
Bradley Brooks was Stevenson's opponent in the round of 32 and despite the Plymouth thrower winning the opening leg in 15, the 18-year-old Blackburn marksman won the next four.
Stevenson pulled that deficit back to 4-3, before emerging a 6-4 winner when closing out the last three legs in 11, 13 and 15, earning himself another excellent average of 94.70.
Stevenson was now into the last 16 and had to overcome his nemesis from the previous day, Peter Wright in order to progress.
But despite the Mirrorman giving another good account of himself, he was edged out 6-5.
Wright took the lead on five occasions and on five occasions Stevenson levelled taking the 10th in 16, despite Snakebite opening the leg with back to back 180s.
But a win over one of the world’s top players was not to be and Wright progressed with a 6-5 victory, despite Stevenson coming out of that confrontation with a 97.30 average.
But what a performance by the Plymouth thrower who hit 12 maximums on the day and his efforts enabled him not only to qualify for the prestigious tournament, but he had done enough to be seeded as a top 32 player. An excellent achievement against the best players in the world.
The top 32 players, including reigning champion Peter Wright, world number one Michael van Gerwen, World Champion Rob Cross and Plymouth’s Simon Stevenon, will enter the event tomorrow evening in the third round.
The action, which will be televised by ITV Sport, will continue on Saturday with play across two sessions, before Sunday's final stages sees the action centred on the Main Stage in the Skyline Pavilion.
Stevenson is already guaranteed a prize purse of £1,750 and a win in round three would see another £1,180 added to that total which would go towards a rise in his PDC Order of Merit ranking.