Former finalist Robert Thornton secured his place in this year’s Grand Slam of Darts as one of the eight players to come through Monday’s Tour Card Holder’s Qualifier at the Robin Park Tennis Centre in Wigan.
Thornton, who was runner-up to Phil Taylor in the 2013 edition, has plummeted down the world rankings over recent years and could be in danger of relinquishing his Tour Card, but the Scot will make his first Grand Slam appearance since 2016 following an impressive qualification display.
The two-time PDC major winner averaged 106 to defeat former World Youth champion Max Hopp in his opener, before seeing off Spanish star Cristo Reyes and recent World Grand Prix quarter-finalist Jermaine Wattimena to confirm his spot in the cross-code event.
Two-time world champion Adrian Lewis will make his first Grand Slam appearance for three years courtesy of a hard-fought qualification campaign. ‘Jackpot’ swept aside Madars Razma in his opener before battling past Terry Temple, where he then averaged 100 in defeating Steve West 5-3.
Brendan Dolan continued his remarkable resurgence with a sensational qualification display in Wigan. The Northern Irishman has scooped two Players Championship titles over recent months and he defeated Dirk van Duijvenbode, Devon Petersen and Joe Cullen, before averaging a mammoth 112 in his decider against Arron Monk.
Czech Darts Open winner Jamie Hughes will make his first Grand Slam appearance as a PDC player following a series of impressive performances. ‘Yozza’ has been hampered by injury over recent weeks but returned to winning ways – beating Darius Labanauskas 5-3 in his decisive tussle.
Ross Smith stunned Michael van Gerwen at last week’s European Championship and he maintained his sparkling form to secure his first Grand Slam appearance since 2013. Smith dropped just five legs in his four matches, averaging 100 in his final two ties against Stephen Bunting and Niels Zonneveld.
Gabriel Clemens also posted two ton-plus averages en route to sealing his debut appearance at Aldersley Leisure Village. ‘The German Giant’ averaged 103 against Harry Ward and posted a 101.5 average to edge out Jonny Clayton, before clinching qualification with victory over Ricky Evans.
Darren Webster has endured a torrid 2019 to date but he will feature in the cross-code event for the first time in two years. ‘The Demolition Man’ kicked off proceedings with an emphatic win over Dawson Murschell, before battling past Justin Pipe and Matt Clark in last-leg deciders.
Ryan Harrington will make his debut this weekend after claiming some major scalps on Monday evening. The 29-year-old – son of former World Matchplay champion Rod – defeated Ronny Huybrechts, Ted Evetts, Jeffrey de Zwaan and James Wilson to qualify for his second different PDC major.
There were a number of high-profile stars who missed out on qualification however. Jonny Clayton, Joe Cullen, Krzysztof Ratajski, Jeffrey de Zwaan Harry Ward and José de Sousa – all of whom have won PDC ranking events in 2019, were unable to progress at the Robin Park Tennis Centre.
Mensur Suljovic memorably lifted a European Tour title in Vienna this year, but the world No 9 misses out after not entering the qualifier, whilst five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld also opted not to attend after reaching the last eight at the World Series of Darts Finals on Sunday.
The 32-player field for the event is now confirmed and the draw for the group-stage will take place from 12:45pm on Tuesday afternoon.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2019 Grand Slam of Darts
PDC Tour Card Holder’s Qualifier
Gabriel Clemens 5-3 Ricky Evans
Ryan Harrington 5-4 James Wilson
Robert Thornton 5-3 Jermaine Wattimena
Brendan Dolan 5-1 Arron Monk
Jamie Hughes 5-3 Darius Labanauskas
Darren Webster 5-4 Matt Clark
Ross Smith 5-0 Niels Zonneveld
Adrian Lewis 5-3 Steve West