Three-time BDO world champion Glen Durrant was among 13 players to secure a PDC Tour Card on the final day of the 2019 PDC UK Qualifying School in Wigan on Sunday, as former World Championship finalist Kirk Shepherd also secured his return to the PDC Pro Tour.
The fourth and final day of action saw nearly 400 players return for one last chance to win a two-year Tour Card, with the final two players from each day winning a Tour Card automatically. Ranking points were allocated to players throughout the event to form the UK Q-School Order of Merit, with Durrant among the 11 players to secure a Tour Card via this route.
The three-time Lakeside world champion suffered consecutive last 128 exits on the opening two days of action, before reaching the semi-finals on Saturday, where he was denied at the final hurdle by Reece Robinson. Nevertheless, ‘Duzza’ backed up his semi-final showing with a run to the last 16 on Sunday, to seal his status as a PDC professional.
“This is as good as winning the Lakeside Championship,” said Durrant. “I’m going through so many emotions right now, I’m so happy and relieved to get through because there was so much pressure on me to do this.
“When I looked around the venue I noticed that a lot of people were watching my matches, and I also put a lot of pressure on myself. Thankfully I got the job done and I’m immensely proud of what I’ve achieved. Now I’m looking forward to my exciting future with the PDC.”
The Teessider dropped just the solitary leg in his opening two matches, averaging 102.50 in his second-round win over James Smith. Durrant survived three match darts as he recovered from 4-2 down to edge out Matthew Dennant in a high-quality last 128 tie, before he breezed into the last 32 with an emphatic whitewash win over Paul Rowley.
The reigning BDO world champion then eased past Adam Huckvale 5-2 which guaranteed his Tour Card, but Durrant was defeated by Kirk Shepherd in the last 16, with the former World Championship finalist going on to seal an automatic Tour Card.
Shepherd began Sunday’s proceedings with battling wins over Ben Davies and Eikichi Nakanishi, before whitewashing former Challenge Tour event winner Cameron Menzies to reach the last 32.
The Ramsgate thrower then clinched consecutive 5-3 wins over Andy Jenkins and Durrant to reach the last eight, where he defeated Darren Beveridge by the same scoreline to set up a decisive showdown against 2004 world finalist Kevin Painter.
Painter won the opening leg of the contest, but the 32-year-old secured five of the next six legs to prevail and confirm his place on the PDC circuit for 2019 and 2020. “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in darts, I’m so relieved to have won my Tour Card back,” said Shepherd.
“I think I’ve been a bit of a nightmare to live with for the past few weeks because I’ve been so determined to do this, but now it’s all worth while.The standard is so high now, I don’t think I averaged below 90 in many games which is the standard you have to be at to compete, so I’m pleased with how I played.”
Former Tour Card holder Nathan Derry joined Shepherd in claiming an automatic Tour Card after winning eight games on a marathon day of darts at the Robin Park Tennis Centre. Derry defeated the likes of Andrew Gilding, Conan Whitehead and Nathan Rafferty en route to reaching the last four, where he thrashed Joe Murnan 5-1 to seal the deal.
Former Challenge Tour event winner Jonathan Worsley topped the Q-School Order of Merit after a series of consistent showings, while Carl Wilkinson and Gavin Carlin clinched maiden Tour Cards. Joe Murnan and Jamie Bain secured immediate returns to the Pro Tour, while recent Lakeside quarter-finalist Conan Whitehead also returns to the PDC circuit.
Former UK Open semi-finalist David Pallett, Adrian Gray and Andy Boulton also secured their Tour Cards via the Q School Order of Merit. Meanwhile, 2006 UK Open finalist Barrie Bates secured the 11th and final qualifying place, as he returns to the professional tour for the first time in eight years.
There was heartbreak for former Players Championship Finals winner Kevin Painter, who will be absent from the main PDC Pro Tour for the first time since 2001. ‘The Artist’ registered six victories on Sunday afternoon in Wigan, but he was denied after falling at the final hurdle against Shepherd in the semi-finals.
Three-time world champion John Part also missed out on a Tour Card after losing out in the last 64 against 2018 UK Open semi-finalist David Pallett. ‘Darth Maple’ recorded hard-fought victories over Jamie Guilfoyle, Lewis Pride and Liam Meek to reach round-four, before suffering a 5-2 reversal against Shropshire star Pallett.
Former Premier League stars Andy Hamilton and Wes Newton also suffered disappointment on the final day of qualification. 2012 World Championship runner-up Hamilton was beaten 5-2 by Tommy Lishman with a 69 average in the last 512, while Wes Newton was edged out in his opener by Stephen McNally.
Seven-time PDC ranking event winner Jamie Caven also drops off the PDC Pro Tour after losing 5-2 to Ryan Murray in his second-round clash, while former UK Open semi-finalist Andrew Gilding was beaten at the same stage to end his Tour Card hopes.
Two-time BDO world champion Scott Waites’ disappointing Q-School campaign culminated in a 5-4 defeat to Stuart Kellett in the last 128, with the 2010 Grand Slam of Darts winner failing to go beyond the last 64 in any of the four events. Meanwhile, BDO number three Jim Williams and Lakeside quarter-finalist Kyle McKinstry also missed out after suffering early exits on day four.
Four-time women’s world champion Lisa Ashton was just two wins away from securing a Tour Card after reaching last 16 for the second consecutive day. ‘The Lancashire Rose’ dropped 10 legs in her opening five matches; seeing off Robert Rickwood, Dean Owen, Shaun Griffiths, Dave Askew and Kevin Lane, but she was beaten 5-2 by young Irish star Nathan Rafferty in round-six.
Anastasia Dobromyslova registered four wins en route to reaching the last 32 on Sunday afternoon. The three-time women’s world champion defeated Paul Jenkinson, John Davey, Ashley Holgate and Gary Court, before her campaign came to a halt at the hands of Mark Barilli in the fifth-round.
Lorraine Winstanley’s impressive Q-School consistency continued. The recent Women’s World Championship runner-up beat Allan Fitzpatrick and Nathan Boon, before bowing out against former Lakeside semi-finalist Brian Woods at the last 128 stage.
Former Lakeside finalist Corrine Hammond was also beaten by Woods in her second-round tie, while Deta Hedman was beaten in her opener by Joshua Burksfield. However, Fallon Sherrock and Rachel Brooks were among the players not competing on the fourth and final day of action.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2019 PDC UK Qualifying School Day Four
Nathan Derry 5-3 Barry Lynn
Nathan Rafferty 5-2 Lisa Ashton
Joe Murnan 5-2 Mark Barilli
Martin O’Boyle 5-2 Thomas Gregory
Gavin Carlin 5-3 Jason Cullen
Kevin Painter 5-3 Ryan Murray
Darren Beveridge 5-0 Joshua Burksfield
Kirk Shepherd 5-3 Glen Durrant
Nathan Derry 5-4 Nathan Rafferty
Joe Murnan 5-3 Martin O’Boyle
Kevin Painter 5-4 Gavin Carlin
Kirk Shepherd 5-3 Darren Beveridge
Nathan Derry 5-1 Joe Murnan
Kirk Shepherd 5-2 Kevin Painter