Three-time world champion John Part and former Players Championship Finals winner Paul Nicholson will be among the field of nearly 450 players competing in the 2017 PDC Qualifying School which begins this Thursday, with 28 PDC Tour cards on offer across four days of action at the Robin Park Tennis Centre in Wigan.
The PDC Qualifying School gives any aspiring darts player aged 16 or over the opportunity to win a Tour Card in order to compete as a professional on the PDC ProTour; four players will win Tour Cards on each of the four days of competition in Wigan.
Ranking points will be allocated to other players based on their finishing position; this sees a further 12 Tour Cards allocated from the Q School Order of Merit following the culmination of the Qualifying School on Sunday. Two of the high-profile stars in action include John Part and Paul Nicholson.
Part, who won his third world title back in 2008, has endured a disappointing run of form over the last couple of years which has seen him slip outside the world’s top 64. ‘Darth Maple’ is now an ever-present member of Sky Sports’ commentary and punditry team, but the Canadian still harbours ambitions of returning to the circuit full-time.
Another TV major winner jostling for a Tour Card in Wigan is 2010 Players Championship Finals winner Paul Nicholson. ‘The Asset’ has been plagued by a persistent neck injury over the last 18 months, which limited his participation on the Pro Tour, but the Australian is fighting fit and vying to return to the big time.
Other entrants include former World Championship finalists Ronnie Baxter, Mark Dudbridge, Peter Manley and Kirk Shepherd, whilst former UK Open finalists Barrie Bates and Colin Osborne will also be in action.
They will be joined by veterans such as Wayne Jones, Andy Smith, Mickey Mansell, Steve Hine, Alan Tabern and 1996 World Matchplay winner Peter Evison. Elsewhere, former Lakeside world champion Richie Burnett will be aiming to return to the PDC Tour on a full-time basis, having returned from a suspension midway through 2016.
Former World Youth champions Arron Monk and James Hubbard will be attempting to secure their return to the PDC circuit, as will 2015 World Youth finalist Nathan Aspinall, who fell outside the world’s top 64 despite appearing in last November’s Grand of Slam of Darts.
The 16-year-old sensation Rusty-Jake Rodriguez joins his brother Roxy-James in bidding to win a tour card to join their elder brother Rowby-John, who is currently ranked 41st on the PDC Order of Merit. The Rodriguez brothers will be accompanied by their fellow Austrian and darts-control member Michael Rasztovits.
Meanwhile, recent World Championship participants Mark Frost, Dragutin Horvat, Boris Koltsov, Zoran Lerchbacher, Jerry Hendriks and Kevin Simm are all aiming to build upon their showings at the Alexandra Palace, as they battle it out at the Robin Park Tennis Centre within the coming week.
Former World Cup of Darts semi-finalist Antonio Alcinas will be seeking to make his return to the PDC Pro Tour, and the Spaniard will be joined at Q-School by German veteran Jyhan Artut, and Part’s Canadian compatriot Ken MacNeil.
Jimmy Hendriks, a preliminary round loser at the BDO World Championship at Lakeside last week, will be aiming to cross the divide and secure a regular spot in the PDC, as will Latvian ace Madars Razma. Razma failed to qualify for the World Championship for the first time since 2013 and that has prompted his decision to switch to the PDC.
Nevertheless, newly crowned Lakeside world champion Glen Durrant has opted to reject the opportunity to join the PDC, insisting that he will aim to successfully defend his world title in January 2018. Elsewhere, BDO world number seven Dean Reynolds, a six-time Development Tour winner in 2016, has also declined the invitation of a Tour Card.
The full list of participants for Q-School, which takes place between January 19th-22nd, can be viewed below!
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2017 PDC Qualifying School Entries
Julio Barbero Gonzalez
Ricardo Fernandez Carballo
Bryan de Hoog
Ryan De Vreede
Lennart Curt Efraimsson
Ting Chi Royden Lam
Kai Fan Leung
Coni Singh Nagi
John Jnr Norman
Gabriel Florin Olar
Jesus Noguera Perea
Jose Henrique Pinto De Sena
Jose Ventura Seijas Ramos
Stuart Stubbs Snr
Alan Tabern Jnr
Willy van de Wiel
Michel van der Horst
Michael Van Dijk
Benjamin van Erven
Carlo van Peer