Peter Wright tops the provisional UK Open Order of Merit after winning two of the opening three qualifiers at the Robin Park Tennis Centre in Wigan last weekend. Snakebite defeated Adrian Lewis on Friday, before surviving two-missed match darts from Michael Smith to triumph in Sunday’s finale.
The Scot has accrued £21,500 in prize money over the first-triple header and is well placed to be the top seed in Minehead. The final three qualifiers take place next weekend, and a host of big names are under significant pressure to seal their spots in the tournament dubbed ‘The FA Cup of Darts’.
After the conclusion of the six qualification events, the top 96 players on the Order of Merit will qualify for the televised UK Open Finals in March. The top 32 players will enter the competition in the third-round; players ranked 33rd-64th will compete in round-two, whilst players from 65th-96th will begin their campaigns in the opening round.
Simon Whitlock sits in second position after he prevailed in the second UK Open qualifier. ‘The Wizard’ enjoyed a welcome return to form during the latter stages of 2016, and the Aussie defeated Wright en route to winning his third Pro Tour title within four months, at the Robin Park Tennis Centre on Saturday.
Michael Smith is third after reaching his first PDC ranking final since the Austrian Darts Open in June 2016. ‘Bully-Boy’ was left to rue two missed match darts against Wright in Sunday’s final, but he defeated James Wade and Adrian Lewis earlier in the day to mark his return to form in impressive fashion.
Two-time world champions Gary Anderson and Adrian Lewis are joint fourth on the Order of Merit, after each reaching one final over the weekend, and they’re closely trailed in fifth place by former Lakeside world champion Steve Beaton.
‘The Bronzed Adonis’ performed tremendously throughout the qualification triple-header, reaching two quarter-finals and recording a last 16 appearance. Beaton’s highlight of the weekend saw him dismantle world number one Michael van Gerwen 6-2 in Saturday’s fourth round.
Ian White is another star that performed with real consistency over the first triple-header. ‘The Diamond’ was just one of ten players to reach at the last 32 stage on all three days of action, and his best run saw him edged out in a deciding-leg by Michael Smith in the semi-finals of Sunday’s qualifier.
Premier League duo Dave Chisnall and Jelle Klaasen are eighth on the Order of Merit after winning £4,750 in prize money over the weekend. Both men reached the semi-finals of Saturday’s qualifier. Klaasen was beaten by world number two Gary Anderson, whilst Chisnall succumbed to eventual winner Simon Whitlock.
Raymond van Barneveld is in 10th position after a very consistent showing in Wigan. The five-time world champion reached the last 16 on the opening two days of competition, before suffering a narrow fourth-round exit to his compatriot Christian Kist in Sunday’s third qualifier.
Van Barneveld accrued £3,750 towards the UK Open Order of Merit and that figure was matched by eight-time major winner James Wade. ‘The Machine’ also recorded two last 16 appearances in Wigan and was beaten by Peter Wright, Dave Chisnall and Michael Smith respectively over the course of the weekend.
Elsewhere, Mervyn King, Benito van de Pas and Cristo Reyes all secured £3,500 over the opening three events and the trio are poised to enter the UK Open Finals at the third-round stage.
Fifteenth place on the Order of Merit is occupied by Mick Todd, who reached his first ever PDC Pro-Tour semi-final on Sunday, before losing to eventual winner Peter Wright. Todd narrowly missed out on securing a PDC Tour Card at Q-School last month, despite posting an incredible 121.50 average in one of his qualifying matches.
World number one Michael van Gerwen is in 16th position after enduring a mediocre weekend by his exceptionally high-standards. ‘Mighty Mike’ endured a shock last 64 exit to carpet-fitter Ritchie Edhouse in Friday’s opening qualifier, before suffering a heavy defeat to Steve Beaton in round-four on Saturday.
Van Gerwen produced an improved showing in Sunday’s final qualifier of the weekend, but ‘The Green Machine’ was beaten 6-4 in the quarter-finals by Peter Wright, which ends his astonishing 16-match winning streak over the world number three. Van Gerwen is tied in 16th with John Henderson, who triumphed over Gary Anderson in Friday’s opener.
Ricky Evans and Peter Hudson both confirmed their UK Open qualification, after recording semi-final appearances earlier in the weekend; they are tied in 18th position alongside Kyle Anderson, who performed solidly on his return to the PDC Tour after his VISA issues were finally resolved in January.
Other notable names that occupy spots in the top 32 of the Order of Merit include former Lakeside world champions Stephen Bunting and Mark Webster, German Darts champion Alan Norris, former Grand Prix finalist Brendan Dolan, 2015 UK Open semi-finalist Andrew Gilding and recent Players Championship Finals semi-finalist Darren Webster.
Nevertheless, some high-profile stars endured relatively disappointing weekends. Premier League wildcard Kim Huybrechts is 44th on the Order of Merit after winning £1,250 over the first three qualifying events. ‘The Hurricane’ has confirmed his spot at Minehead, but is currently set to enter the tournament at the second-round stage.
Former UK Open champion Robert Thornton is facing the prospect of missing out on next month’s event altogether. ‘The Thorn’, who defeated Phil Taylor to win the UK Open in 2012, recorded just the solitary victory within the first three qualification events and is tied in 74th place on the Order of Merit.
The former World Grand Prix champion won just £250 in prize money over the first triple-header and he is unlikely to make the cut for Minehead if he performs similarly in UK Open qualifiers 4-6. The minimum figure required to secure qualification in recent years has been £750, so the world number twelve will be under the microscope next week.
John Part and Paul Nicholson, both of whom regained their PDC Tour Cards at Q-School last month, also occupy joint 74th position having won £250 in prize money over the opening three qualifiers. Three-time major semi-finalist Justin Pipe also faces a battle to qualify for the UK Open Finals after winning just one game over the weekend.
Seven-time PDC ranking winner Jamie Caven is in real danger of missing out after failing to win a match over the weekend. Elsewhere, former UK Open finalists Andy Hamilton and Wes Newton are also under significant pressure having yet to register any prize money thus far. The current UK Open Order of Merit can be viewed below.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
|Position||Name||Total Prize Money|
|10||Barneveld, Raymond van||£3,750|
|12||Pas, Benito van de||£3,500|
|16||Gerwen, Michael van||£3,000|
|45||Duijvenbode, Dirk van||£1,000|
|52||Decker, Mike De||£750|
|52||Voort, Vincent van der||£750|
|52||Vreede, Ryan de||£750|
|65||Leung, Kai Fan||£500|
|74||Bergh, Dimitri Van Den||£250|
|74||Lam, Ting Chi Royden||£250|
|74||Zwaan, Jeffrey de||£250|