KEELAN Kay competed in his first PDC tournament of the year at the weekend when he travelled to Hildesheim, Germany, to participate in the first four rounds of the PDC Unicorn Development Tour at the Halle 39 and despite being one of the youngest competitors will return home later today with his head held high.
On the opening day of competition he got through to the last 16 in Tour 01 before bowing out at the quarter-finals in Tour 02, an outstanding achievement for somebody who only turned 18 in January and against a field of no fewer than 222 of the best young players in the world.
He opened his account in Development Tour 01 with a 4-1 win over Barnsley’s Keaton Haddock in 18, 17, 18 and 17, boasting a checkout percentage of 62%.
Kay then met Ben Cheeseman, a qualifier for the UK Open which begins on Friday at the Butlins Minehead Resort, and came from 2-1 down to win 4-2, clinching the sixth leg in 15 darts.
Vilem Sedivy of the Czech Republic came back to level at 2-2 after “The Lord of the Board” had edged 2-1 in front with a leg in 12 darts which he finished with a kill of 130 but wrapped up a confident 4-2 victory in 19 and 18.
Moreno Blom could not stop Keelan as he steam-rollered the Dutchman 4-1, winning the decisive leg in 18 when checking out from 105 at the first opportunity.
The former Plymouth student was now into the last 16 and his opponent was Martin Schindler, a PDC Tour Card holder since 2017 and a former German World Cup of Darts representative.
Keelan won the opening leg in 17 before Schindler checked out from 130 for a win in 12 before taking the next three in 17, 11 and 16, finishing with a 100.30 average.
Development Tour 02 followed and Keelan got off the mark with a 4-1 victory over Italy’s Luca Orsini.
Marvin van Velzen, a former junior world cup winner with the Netherlands took Keelan to 2-2 before back to back 15-dart legs sealed a 4-2 victory.
Jordan Ward was Kay’s opponent in the board final, but he eased through to the last 32 with a 4-0 success, after winning the opening leg in 15 with a kill of 117.
Welshman Liam Meek took Keelan to 2-2 with two 16-darters but not for the first time, two 15 dart legs on the bounce for Kay was enough to take another scalp.
Waiting in the last 16 for Keelan was James Beeton, the recent winner of the 2020 Boy’s Slovak Open but after taking the opener in 17, Kay won three on the bounce in 14, 16 and 21.
Beeton pulled one back but to no avail as Kay won the next to move into the quarter-finals.
Niels Zonneveld, now in his second year as a PDC Tour Card holder went 2-1 up in 14 and 16, only for Keelan to win the next two and edge in front for the first time at 3-2.
The Dutchman took the next two in 15 and 20 but Keelan took him to a deciding ninth leg when winning the eighth leg in 16.
But in a close decider, and with the darts, Zonneleld prevailed 5-4.
Development Tour 03 followed on the Sunday but Keelan was not firing on all cylinders like he was the day before.
An outshot of 155 was the only highlight in his 4-2 victory over Dominik Steinmann before he defeated Steinmann’s German compatriot Nico Krause 4-1.
That took him into the last 64 but Kay found the former PDC World Youth finalist Berry van Peer too good and crashed to a 4-0 defeat.
But poor form can be turned around and that is exactly what happed in the last event of the weekend.
Keelan hit two 15-darters in a 4-2 defeat of Ben West before disposing of Kieran Hoare by the same margin.
He met 20-year-old Philipp Hagermann in the round of 64 and opened up with a 15-darter before edging 2-1 in front when checking out from 148.
Keelan’s German opponent responded by drawing level at 2-2 with a win in 11, but that was the last leg he was to win as Kay took the next two to prevail 4-2 which was followed by a 4-0 defeat of Somerset thrower Kalem Marsh
Waiting for Keelan in the last 16 was his nemesis from the previous day Martin Schindler.
The German went 2-0 up in 14 and 17 only for Keelan to hit back to back 180s in a 15-darter and then hit the maximum mark again, his fourth in this leg, to level with another win in 15.
Schindler took the next in 19 before winning the decisive leg in 12, after two maximums enabled him to have a throw for a nine-darter, despite Keelan registering his best average of 90.40.
But this was an excellent showing from Keelan who opened up his Order of Merit account with 750 points and has an early ranking of 11th place.
He finished the weekend with 12 maximums and a single dart average of 26.48.
During the weekend, chairman Peter Manley presented Keelan with his PDPA (Professional Darts Players Association) Scholarship (bottom picture) which was won by finishing in the top three of the 2019 JDC tour and allowed Keelan free entry into the PDC Development Tour for this year. The other two recipients were Brad Phillips and James Beeton.
The next four tours will be contested over the weekend of March 21/22 at the Robin Park Tennis Centre, Wigan.