Champions League of Darts winner Mensur Suljovic will be the highest-profile absentee at next month’s Coral UK Open Finals in Minehead, after the 128-man field for the event was confirmed earlier this week.
Following the completion of the six UK Open Qualifiers in Wigan over the past fortnight, the top 96 players from the 2018 UK Open Order of Merit progress to compete in the TV Finals at the Butlin’s Minehead Resort from March 2nd-4th.
Nevertheless, for the second year in succession, the tournament will not feature Mensur Suljovic. The Austrian, competing in his debut Premier League campaign this year, was forced to skip last year’s qualifiers due to family reasons.
However, the world number six opted to skip all six qualifiers this year, and will also be absent from the opening weekend of Players Championship action in Barnsley this coming weekend.
Another big name who won’t be appearing in Minehead this year is former Lakeside world champion Mark Webster. The Welshman, a semi-finalist in this event back in 2011, registered just £750 in prize money across the six days of competition and subsequently missed out on qualification via countback.
Former Players Championship Finals winner Kevin Painter will miss out on the UK Open for the first time since the tournament’s inception back in 2003. ‘The Artist’ claimed just four victories across the six days of action but failed to register any prize money, after not progressing beyond the last 128 throughout the entire qualification campaign.
Brendan Dolan, a UK Open quarter-finalist back in 2014, also failed to make the cut after accruing £500 in prize money, whilst former Lakeside world champion Christian Kist was unable to seal his spot in Minehead, after missing the opening triple-header due to his ongoing struggles with arthritis.
Another injury-plagued star who won’t be featuring in this year’s ‘FA Cup of Darts’ is former Lakeside semi-finalist Robbie Green. ‘Kong’ was due to undergo knee surgery earlier this year but that was postponed, and although he bravely battled through the pain-barrier in Wigan, it wasn’t enough to seal his spot in Minehead.
Jan Dekker can count himself extremely unfortunate to miss out on a spot at this year’s tournament. On the second weekend of qualification, the Dutchman suffered successive last 128 defeats against Jeffrey de Zwaan and Rob Cross- despite astonishingly averaging 112 in both matches.
Former World Youth champion Max Hopp will miss out on the UK Open for the second straight year after also pocketing just £500 in prize money, whilst Jamie Caven and Devon Petersen also failed to qualify. They’ll be joined on the sidelines by 2006 finalist Barrie Bates, who won £250 across the six events.
Former World Youth finalist Rowby-John Rodriguez won’t be featuring at Butlins this year, whilst former BDO stars Jeffrey de Graaf and Jeff Smith also suffered disappointment. Smith agonisingly missed out after losing in a qualification play-off, whilst de Graaf missed out by a mere £250.
Pro Tour winner Joe Murnan endured a nightmare campaign where he failed to pocket any prize money, whilst former Premier League star and 2011 UK Open finalist Wes Newton also left Wigan empty-handed, following on from his recent disappointment at PDC Qualifying School last month.
Brazilian star Diogo Portela suffered more qualification heartbreak, less than a month since he just missed out on securing a Tour Card at European Qualifying School. Portela claimed some impressive scalps throughout qualification, but lost out via countback.
Elsewhere, former World Youth champion Arron Monk was unable to register any prize money, despite regaining his PDC Tour Card at Q-School last month.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC