Joe Cullen produced the finest string of displays seen so far on the Unibet Home Tour to win Group 31 on Sunday night.
Cullen, who earned his second chance on the Home Tour having finished runner-up to Ryan Murray in Group 20, began the night with a 106.2 average in a 5-2 win over Keegan Brown.
The 2019 European Tour event winner followed up with another stunning display, averaging 107.6 in a 5-3 defeat of world number three Gerwyn Price 5-3.
A perfect night for Cullen was complete with a 5-0 whitewash of Bradley Brooks, in which the Yorkshireman averaged 105.8, to wrap up the group and advance to the second phase of the competition.
The league phase of the Unibet Home Tour concludes on Monday night with Group 32, which will see reigning World Champion Peter Wright in action.
Unibet Home Tour Group 31 – Sunday May 17 Gerwyn Price 5-3 Bradley Brooks Joe Cullen 5-2 Keegan Brown Bradley Brooks 1-5 Keegan Brown Gerwyn Price 3-5 Joe Cullen Joe Cullen 5-0 Bradley Brooks Keegan Brown 5-4 Gerwyn Price
Darren Webster won Group 15 of the Unibet Home Tour, as the home-staged tournament continued on Friday night.
A perfect night for Webster began with a comeback from 4-1 down to edge out youngster Bradley Brooks 5-4.
Webster had to come from behind once again in his second game of the night, as he recovered 2-0 down in his second match to see off Scott Baker 5-2.
Heading into the final game of the evening, former World Championship runner-up Andy Hamilton needed to beat Webster 5-3 or better to top the group, but it wasn’t to be as Webster held firm to complete the clean sweep.
The Unibet Home Tour continues on Saturday night with Group 16, which will see the fastest thrower on the planet Ricky Evans in action, along with Germany’s Christian Bunse, Canadian Jeff Smith and Martin Atkins.
Unibet Home Tour Group 15 – Friday May 1 Darren Webster 5-4 Bradley Brooks Scott Baker 5-4 Andy Hamilton Andy Hamilton 5-3 Bradley Brooks Darren Webster 5-2 Scott Baker Bradley Brooks 5-1 Scott Baker Darren Webster 5-3 Andy Hamilton
Group 16 – Saturday May 2 (1930 BST) Ricky Evans v Martin Atkins Christian Bunse v Jeff Smith Martin Atkins v Jeff Smith Ricky Evans v Christian Bunse Christian Bunse v Martin Atkins Jeff Smith v Ricky Evans
Kai Fan Leung, Bradley Brooks and Mike De Decker secured Tour Cards on Day Two of the 2020 PDC Qualifying School, as Lisa Ashton narrowly missed out on securing an automatic spot on the PDC circuit.
Hong Kong’s Leung denied the four-time Women’s World Champion in their deciding game at the UK Qualifying School, hitting a 14-darter to claim his Tour Card as Ashton waited on 72 in the deciding leg of their contest.
He also took out key finishes of 140 and 104 during the tie, with Ashton finishing 130 on the bull to level in leg six.
Leung will follow former Tour Card Holder Royden Lam in representing Hong Kong on the PDC ProTour following the success, with the former World Cup of Darts representative in superb form throughout Day Two.
The 36-year-old lost only four legs in as many matches to begin his challenge, overcame Cameron Menzies and then averaged over 102 in a 5-1 defeat of Adam Hunt.
He was a narrow winner over Dave Prins in the Last Eight in a tie which went all the way, before holding his nerve with a 14-darter in the deciding leg against Ashton.
Leung admitted: “It’s fabulous, I didn’t think I could go this this far. It’s my second time at Q School and I’m glad I made it through.
“I want to stay here, play here and see how far I can go. The Asian Tour has been going for two years and we’re all fighting to get into the World Cup and World Championship and we want to live our dream.
“It’s helped me a lot and helps all the players to get better. Now, all of a sudden, because of the Asian Tour people are gaining experience and getting better and showing we can do it. It’s amazing.”
Ashton followed up Thursday’s run to the Last 32 with another superb display, and although she missed out on securing an automatic Tour Card, she is now on nine ranking points and in a strong position to claim a Tour Card from the Q School Order of Merit.
“It was very tough against Lisa and strange to play her, and luckily I survived in the last leg,” added Leung. “I could see she was winning her games and I didn’t know that I was going to play her, because I would have loved to have Lisa winning a Tour Card as well!”
Teenager Brooks won back his Tour Card as he defeated Brisbane Darts Masters winner Damon Heta 5-3 in their decider in Wigan, returning to the PDC ProTour at the first time of asking after initially losing his professional status at the end of 2019.
The 19-year-old from Blackburn’s eight wins on the day also included a narrow 5-4 win over Ireland’s Michael Flynn in the Last Eight, while he averaged almost 98 in a 5-2 defeat over Niall Cullerton in the Last 16.
“I’m over the moon,” said Brooks. “After losing my Tour Card I was dreading coming back to Q School so it’s brilliant to get back on the tour.
“I didn’t realise how much I wanted it – when I lost it, it was the worst thing that’s ever happened to me and I was gutted. But I’ve had two years learning and I won’t be taking it for granted.
“I know what I can do. I’ll get back on the practice board now and get ready for the ProTour.”
Belgium’s Mike De Decker secured his return to the PDC circuit after winning back his Tour Card on Day Two of the European Qualifying School in Hildeshiem.
The 24-year-old had previously been on the PDC ProTour in 2016 and 2017, and is a four-time winner on the PDC Unicorn Development Tour circuit.
He will now return to competing amongst the sport’s elite in 2020 and 2021 after following Austria’s Harald Leitinger in securing an automatic Tour Card at the European Q School.
De Decker won nine matches on the day at Halle 39 in Hildesheim, dropping just six legs in the first five victories before seeing off Day One runner-up Martijn Kleermaker 5-3 in the last 16.
He also defeated Kevin Doets and Justin van Tergouw by the same scoreline and saw off Sweden’s Nilsson in eight legs in the final.
“It’s been a nerve-wracking day and I’m really happy that I got the Tour Card in the end,” said De Decker. “I can relax now and focus on the tour.
“Losing the Tour Card was a bad thing and a good thing, because it opened my eyes. I thought I was there, and that’s the wrong attitude. I’ll practice and work more than I did before and we’ll see what the next two years brings.”
Nilsson’s run to the final improves his chances of claiming a Tour Card from the European Q School Order of Merit, should he not secure automatic success over the final two days.
Day One finalist Kleermaker also strengthened his position with a run to the last 16, while Poland’s Kciuk and Dutch youngster Van Tergouw also impressed in reaching the semi-finals.
Jim Williams (Wales) became the latest player to win the coverted Champion of Champions event in Cardiff last night. The Worthingtons sponsored event is growing into a much-anticipated event on the grassroots darts calendar.
Williams, who defeated Bradley Brooks in the final, joins an exclusive list of trophy holders. It was a tough day at a busy St Davids Hall in Cardiff. The 256 strong fields included a last-minute qualification from Gerwyn Price, who won through a rearranged qualifier after a late withdrawal. 1995 World Champion Richie Burnett went on a fine run as did Jon Worsley, known as Womble, who knocked out Price early on.
But it was Brooks and Williams who won through, the difficult best of 3 format, to contest the final. Williams closed out the youngster 2-0 to add the title to the other he has picked up this year.
Williams seems to like Red Dragon sponsored events which take place in his home nation. Earlier this year he collected a trophy at the Welsh Open weekend in Prestatyn.
Gerwyn Price, Johnny Clayton and Paul Hogan are amongst the famous names to have held the trophy aloft in its short history. Victory in the CoC leads to a surge in success for many of the winners it will be interesting to see what it brings for Williams.
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