Former World Championship finalists Kevin Painter & Andy Hamilton head the list of entrants for Monday’s William Hill World Darts Championship PDPA qualifier, which takes place at the Robin Park Tennis Centre in Wigan.
Painter has appeared in 15 consecutive World Championships since switching to the PDC from the BDO back in 2001, although ‘The Artist’ is in real danger of missing out on this year’s event after falling outside the world’s top 32.
Painter featured in the 2005 World Championship Final at the Circus Tavern when he was beaten 7-6 by Phil Taylor in a captivating tussle, but after slipping to 44th on the PDC Order of Merit, the former Players Championship Finals winner faces an uphill task to qualify for this year’s event.
Another high-profile name set to miss the cut is 2012 World Championship finalist Andy Hamilton. ‘The Hammer’ was beaten by his fellow Stoke star Adrian Lewis at the Alexandra Palace almost five years ago but has endured a miserable slump over the past two years, which has seen him plummet to 40th in the world.
Hamilton must reach the final of this weekend’s Players Championship Finals in Minehead to reclaim his top 32 spot, otherwise he’ll be amongst the 121 participants in Monday’s qualifier. Nevertheless, Hamilton faces world number one Michael van Gerwen in round-one, so reaching the final appears a very difficult prospect.
Another former World Championship finalist battling it out in Wigan on Monday will be Kirk Shepherd, who was runner up to John Part in 2008. Shepherd defeated the likes of Terry Jenkins, Peter Manley and Wayne Mardle to reach the final nine years ago, but he hasn’t appeared at the Alexandra Palace since 2011.
Former Players Championship Finals winner Paul Nicholson will also be aiming to return to the Ally Pally in 2016. ‘The Asset’ has endured a testing 18 months after being plagued by injury, but he’s fighting fit and aiming to secure qualification, as he hopes to make his eighth World Championship appearance this year.
Elsewhere, other established stars who’ll be fighting to secure a spot at the Alexandra Palace include 2007 semi-finalist Andy Jenkins, former World Masters finalist Stuart Kellett, 2014 World Youth champion Keegan Brown and exciting Shropshire star David Pallett.
They will be joined by a further five former TV major finalists, including Ronnie Baxter, Wes Newton, Mark Walsh, Wayne Jones and Barrie Bates. Former World Youth champions James Hubbard and Arron Monk will also be in attendance, as will recent Grand Slam participants Nathan Aspinall, Ted Evetts and Nathan Derry.
Andrew Gilding is the highest ranked player to have entered Monday’s qualifier. ‘Goldfinger’ currently occupies 32nd spot on the PDC Order of Merit and should not need to compete in the qualifier unless a rank outsider reaches the final or triumphs in Minehead.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
The full list of entrants can be viewed below:
William Hill World Darts Championship PDPA Qualifier
Coni Singh Nagi
Dirk van Duijvenbode