Matt Clark and Reece Robinson claimed Tour Cards on Day Three of the 2019 PDC UK Qualifying School in Wigan on Saturday afternoon, as BDO world champion Glen Durrant came within one win of securing a place on the PDC circuit.
The third of four days of action saw almost 400 players return to battle it out to win a coveted two-year Tour Card, with the final two players from each day winning a Tour Card automatically and ranking points allocated to other players to form the UK Q-School Order of Merit.
Former World Matchplay quarter-finalist Matt Clark regained his Tour Card with a series of fine displays at the Robin Park Tennis Centre. The 50-year-old lost his card in 2017 and competed on the Challenge Tour in 2018, but ‘Superman’ will return to the professional circuit this year.
Clark fought back from 3-0 down to defeat Justin Smith in his opening tie, before dropping just three legs in seeing off Simon Tate and Justin Broton respectively. He then recovered from 3-0 down to defeat Hong Kong World Cup star Royden Lam, surviving a match dart in the process.
The Radcliffe thrower averaged 103 in whitewashing Darren Beveridge, before booking his place in the quarter-finals with a 5-3 win over Keith Rooney. Clark then edged out James Kempster in his third deciding-leg clash of the afternoon, coming from 4-2 down to prevail.
This set up a decisive semi-final showdown against Gavin Carlin, who defeated Andy Hamilton, Ken MacNeil, Colin Osborne and Andrew Gilding to reach the last four. However, Carlin’s hopes of securing an automatic Tour Card were thwarted by an inspired Clark, who produced his best performance of the day when it mattered most- averaging 104.70 en route to a 5-2 win.
“I was wondering if I was getting too old for this but the way I played today showed I am still good enough, I’ve got years left in me yet,” Clark told the PDC. “The last few years have been very tough for me away from the oche but I can definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel now, I’ve got the belief back.”
Meanwhile, Reece Robinson regained his Tour Card after a six-year absence, defeating three-time Lakeside world champion Glen Durrant in the semi-finals. Former World Youth Masters champion Robinson competed on the Challenge Tour in 2018, but he’s back in the darting big time after producing the goods in Wigan.
The 26-year-old kicked off proceedings with a whitewash win over Paul Walker, before recording consecutive 5-3 wins over Stephen McNally and Callum Loose to reach the last 64. Robinson then moved into the last 16 with wins over Kevin Lane and Sam Hewson, dropping just five legs across the two matches.
Robinson then edged out Jonathan Worsley 5-4 in a topsy-turvy affair to reach the last eight, where he survived another last-leg shootout against UK Open semi-finalist David Pallett to set up a semi-final showdown against Durrant.
‘Duzza’ dropped just 11 legs en route to the semi-finals, posting two ton-plus averages and defeating former UK Open finalist Barrie Bates in an intriguing nine-leg tussle. Nevertheless, the reigning BDO world champion fell at the final hurdle, as Robinson reeled off three straight legs to triumph 5-2 and win back his all-important Tour Card.
“I’m absolutely ecstatic, I’m still a young player and I believe I’m good enough to beat anyone in the world. I had a couple of years not playing as much as I should’ve been but this year I’ve practiced more than I ever have done.
“I fancied myself to do well here. I got to the semi-finals of a Challenge Tour event last year which made me think ‘come on Reece, you’re as good as anybody else here’ so I just went at it after that,” said Robinson.
There are a host of high-profile stars who face the prospect of missing out on a Tour Card. Three-time world champion John Part was whitewashed by recent Lakeside quarter-finalist Conan Whitehead in the last 128, while former Players Championship Finals winner Kevin Painter was beaten at the same stage by Part’s compatriot Ken MacNeil.
2012 World Championship finalist Andy Hamilton exited at the last 256 stage at the hands of semi-finalist Gavin Carlin, whilst Richie Burnett and Robbie Green were two other high-profile names to bow out in the last 128. However, it was a more encouraging day for former Premier League star Wes Newton, who progressed to the last 32 before losing to Jonathan Worsley.
Four-time women’s world champion Lisa Ashton performed superbly to register five victories en route to reaching the last 16. ‘The Lancashire Rose’ averaged 106, the highest of the day, in her victory over Brian Hallas, before dumping out Dylan Duo and Steve Hine. However, Ashton was just three games away from an automatic Tour Card when she was beaten by Martin O’Boyle.
Fallon Sherrock registered her first wins at this year’s Qualifying School to reach the last 128. She defeated her partner Gary Court 5-2 in her opener, which she followed up with a 5-4 win over Sam Cromwell. However, she suffered a 5-3 reversal against Robert Collins in her third tie of the afternoon.
Anastasia Dobromyslova, Lorraine Winstanley, Deta Hedman and Rachel Brooks were all beaten in their opening matches, but they still acquitted themselves impressively. Winstanley almost defeated former UK Open semi-finalist Andrew Gilding in a nine-leg thriller, with ‘Goldfinger’ averaging 95 to sneak past the recent Women’s World Championship runner-up.
Despite suffering defeat at the semi-final stage, Durrant and Carlin are both well placed to claim Tour Cards via the Q-School Order of Merit, should they not claim an automatic Tour Card on the final day of action on Sunday afternoon.
Two-time Lakeside world champion Scott Waites faces an uphill task to secure a Tour Card after losing in the last 256 for the second day in succession, while BDO number three Jim Williams suffered a 5-4 defeat to Andy Boulton in his first-round tie, leaving him level on eight points along with Durrant.
Two further automatic Tour Cards will be won on Sunday’s final day, with 11 more places available via the UK Qualifying School Order of Merit. Play will commence at 10:30am on Sunday, as the battle to secure a spot on the PDC circuit reaches its conclusion.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2019 PDC UK Qualifying School Day Three
David Pallett 5-3 Adrian Gray
Reece Robinson 5-4 Jonathan Worsley
Glen Durrant 5-2 Scott Taylor
John Bowles 5-1 Kevin Garcia
Matt Clark 5-3 Keith Rooney
James Kempster 5-0 Carl Wilkinson
Gavin Carlin 5-0 Andrew Gilding
Martin O’Boyle 5-3 Lisa Ashton
Reece Robinson 5-4 David Pallett
Glen Durrant 5-2 John Bowles
Matt Clark 5-4 James Kempster
Gavin Carlin 5-2 Martin O’Boyle
Reece Robinson 5-2 Glen Durrant
Matt Clark 5-2 Gavin Carlin