Five players enjoyed a qualifying double last Friday in Barnsley, as Tour Card Holder Qualifiers took place for the European Tour Events 3-4.
Friday’s Tour Card Holder Qualifier for the year’s third and fourth European Tour events saw 24 spots up for grabs in the European Darts Open (ET3) and German Darts Grand Prix (ET4).
Jason Lowe, who came within a leg of defeating Michael van Gerwen at the UK Open last weekend, qualified for both events alongside fellow-new Tour Card Holder Martijn Kleermaker of the Netherlands.
Another Dutchman, Maik Kuivenhoven also enjoyed a double success, along with Portugal’s Jose De Sousa and Latvia’s Madars Razma.
Both the European Darts Open (ET3) and German Darts Grand Prix (ET4) have been postponed due to current restrictions, and will be rearranged for later in 2020.
The PDC ProTour weekend in Barnsley continues on Saturday and Sunday with Players Championship event 7-8 from 1200 GMT.
ET3 Tour Card Holder Qualifiers: Devon Petersen, Steve Lennon, Adam Hunt, Mervyn King, Jason Lowe, Steffen Siepmann, Jonathan Worsley, Darius Labanauskas, Jose De Sousa, William O’Connor, Derk Telnekes, John Henderson, Maik Kuivenhoven, Martijn Kleermaker, Harry Ward, Madars Razma, Scott Waites, Ryan Joyce, Damon Heta, Darren Webster, Vincent van der Voort, Luke Woodhouse, Chris Dobey, Kim Huybrechts
ET4 Tour Card Holder Qualifiers: Kai Fan Leung, Kyle Anderson, Jamie Lewis, Andy Hamilton, Jason Lowe, Jesus Noguera, Madars Razma, Jelle Klaasen, Jose De Sousa, Martin Schindler, Stephen Bunting, Maik Kuivenhoven, Dirk van Duijvenbode, Ron Meulenkamp, Danny Noppert, Ross Smith, Brendan Dolan, Ryan Murray, Niels Zonneveld, Benito van de Pas, Martijn Kleermaker, Steve West, Toni Alcinas, Scott Baker
It’s more than a dozen years since a dart player names Lowe was making TV headlines, this weekend the Ladbrokes UK Open featured a certain J. Lowe. No, not a comeback from the legendary ‘Old Stoneface’, but a superb effort from a Black Country darter named Jason!
For quite a while I have been telling anyone who would listen, and a few who wont, about an unusual dart player. He was brought to my attention four or five years ago. A number of players, who play in a very high quality darts area, and others whom I respect, said that there was one player who was head and shoulders above the rest of them and that he would manage the PDC with ease!
When I asked why I had not heard of him, or what he had won, I was met with some strange replies. “He doesn’t play opens” or “He just plays league darts” and lastly “…he doesn’t seem bothered”. Lowe seemed happy as a carpenter / builder, and wary of the commitment required to take darts more seriously. However, he was being slowly persuaded and it looked like he may come to that years’s Q School.
Again however events did not play out. Despite a decent spell within the BDO, he qualified for the World Masters and narrowly missed out on Lakeside, he still did not attend Q School that year.
Having checked closely with a couple of other high level players I decided to keep an eye out for this ‘resurgent star’. I was even approached to offer advice on how to prepare for the change in intensity, preparation, match duration and standard. Thus it’s fair to say I have always had an interest in the success, or otherwise, of Jason Lowe!
Jason had played in PDC events as far back as 2006, indeed he had reached a Pro Tour Qtr Final, but there was no where enough money in the lower levels of the game to consider a professional career. He thus returned to his day job as a builder and carpenter. This seemed to be the reason for his supposed reluctance to step forward and have another go.
2017 proved to be the turning point, Jason entered Q School and made the attempt to gain a Pro-Tour Card. This provided me with a better opportunity to look at what all the fuss had been about. Strangely I found myself in the opposite corner at least once! It did not take long to see what Lowe was capable of. He ran to the last thirty-two, defeating several quality players, on the first day.
The rest of Q School did not go so well and Lowe failed to get a card. Jason tried again in 2018 and again came up short. However, the opportunity to play the 2018 Challenge Tour did not pass him by! The first weekend of that year’s tour provided the Cradley Heath man with a Semi Final appearance and he began to settle.
Next up were the UK Open Qualifiers and the following TV event. Lowe seemed to finally find that performance level that all those sources told me was natural too him. After picking up a few qualifying £’s the (then) 47 year old produced a superb run to the Semi-Final. A Qtr final thrashing of Adrian Lewis should have sent a signal to those on the look out for new/blossoming talent.
Lowe made his PDC major debut the next month, and performed steadily, he reached the last thirty-two. This seemed to be the start of somthing significant. He hit the gas on the Challenge Tour reaching a final and then repeated that form on the Pro Tour. Over the next couple of months he performed well at every PDC tour including reaching the later stages of a European Tour event.
Then it all stopped. Jason did not play the tour again during 2018 and nothing is recorded for the 2019 season. Jason’s disapearance mirrored the rise and ‘fall’ of another midlander from a few years before and many feared another ‘Scott Rand’ situation.
Remarkably the situation has completely reversed again. At the last minute Jason decided to enter Q School 2020. He had a decent run on day one and blitzed through to claim an automatic card at the second attempt.
He has started the Pro Tour well and pocketed £3,500 from the early events. Yet again though, it was the UK Open that has kick started his return to the fore. He came nicely through the early section until drawing Jackpot (Adrian Lewis), not for the first time Jason brushed him aside (10-4) advancing to a tie with MVG!
Jason suffered early and went down 0-5 in session one. Its not unusual for the lesser known player to get off to a slow start, what happened next was unusual. Lowe hit back and levelled the score at 5-5. The rest of the match was nip and tuck but the forty-nine year old probably edged it. At the last moment, in the deciding leg, Lowe hit a big 4 while attempting an 86 finish and did not earn a dart to win the match. The vastly experience MVG closed out with minimal fuss.
Despite the sad ending, it may be that the UK Open is a fresh launch for the career of another Back Country darter.
Jason Lowe is exceedingly calm, appears unruffled by anything and has a simple but very interesting throw. Could it be that, after twenty plus years, the PDC has found another supreme darter with the surname Lowe?
The Fifth Round of the UK Open will commence tomorrow afternoon. The draw has thrown up another interesting set of matches. The highlights could be Peter Wright vs Ian White, Simon Whitlock vs Chris Dobey and Rob Cross vs Micheal Smith.
Several players are showing signs of a return to their best for this event. Alan Tabern has come through some tough matches to reach the last 32 and a lash with Stephen Bunting. Jelle Klaasen is also going nicely so far.
MVG, fresh from knocking out reigning UK Open Champion Nathan Aspinall, will take on Jason Lowe. Black Country player Lowe has been performing very well since regaining his tour card and Micheal would be wise to not underestimate him.
Full Draw: Round 5
Main Stage Simon Whitlock v Chris Dobey Jason Lowe v Michael van Gerwen Peter Wright v Ian White Rob Cross v Michael Smith
Stage Two William O’Connor v Daryl Gurney Gerwyn Price v Ricky Evans James Wade v Kim Huybrechts Gary Anderson v Simon Stevenson
Stage Three Jonny Clayton v Joe Cullen Dirk van Duijvenbode v Mensur Suljovic Stephen Bunting v Alan Tabern Matthew Edgar v Dimitri Van den Bergh
Stage Four Martin Atkins v Jamie Hughes Jelle Klaasen v Steve West Kyle McKinstry v Martin Schindler Andy Boulton v Gabriel Clemens
Michael van Gerwen and Chris Dobey produced the performances of the day on a thrilling opening to the Ladbrokes UK Open at Butlin’s Minehead Resort on Friday.
The 159-player, multi-board tournament began with a bumper day of darts, with the opening four rounds seeing the field whittled down to 32 competitors who will return on Saturday afternoon to continue the battle for the £100,000 title.
Friday afternoon’s early rounds included first round defeats for female duo Lisa Ashton and Fallon Sherrock – to Mike De Decker and Kyle McKinstry respectively – as well as Brisbane Darts Masters champion Damon Heta, against Scott Waites.
2012 UK Open champion Robert Thornton was a third round casualty, while former finalists Barrie Bates and Andy Hamilton lost out in round two.
The arrival of the world’s top 32 players in Friday evening’s fourth round saw the drama increase further as reigning champion Nathan Aspinall drew world number one Van Gerwen in a crunch clash.
A high-quality affair saw neither player able to open up more than a two-leg lead throughout, before two-time champion Van Gerwen eventually closed out a 10-8 success with a 105.5 average.
Van Gerwen will now play Jason Lowe in Saturday afternoon’s fifth round, after the Cradley Heath thrower – a Tour Card winner at Qualifying School in January – defeated Cody Harris, Jonathan Worsley and 2014 UK Open champion Adrian Lewis to reach the last 32.
Chris Dobey and Krzysztof Ratajski both averaged over 105 in an outstanding fourth round tie which saw the Bedlington ace come from 9-8 down to win 10-9, taking out a 91 bull finish in the deciding leg of a thriller.
World number three Gerwyn Price was another impressive performer as he averaged 104 in his dominant 10-3 defeat of Danny Noppert, and the Welshman will now play Ricky Evans after the Kettering ace overcame Joe Murnan 10-4.
2017 UK Open champion Peter Wright emerged victorious from another tight contest, averaging over 102 in his 10-8 win over Glen Durrant.
The World Champion now plays Ian White, who averaged almost 100 in a 10-6 win over emerging talent Harry Ward.
2018 UK Open winner Gary Anderson gained revenge for his loss to Steve Beaton in this event 12 months ago with a 10-7 victory as he progressed to a tie with Plymouth’s Simon Stevenson, who saw off both Kevin Doets and Darren Webster in a deciding leg.
Former World Champion Rob Cross, last year’s runner-up to Aspinall in Minehead, hit back from 6-5 down to win 10-7 against Dutch youngster Niels Zonneveld.
Cross will now face Michael Smith in another plum fifth round tie, with the world number five having overcome James Wilson 10-4.
Ireland’s Willie O’Connor fought off a strong fightback from Dave Chisnall to claim a narrow 10-8 win, with the Morecambe ace having begun the game wearing glasses, removed them at 5-0 down before hitting back from a seven-leg deficit to trail 8-7 at one stage.
Stephen Bunting survived three missed match darts from Vincent van der Voort as he progressed to a meeting with St Helens rival Alan Tabern, who won four games on Friday to reach the last 32.
Welsh student Lewis Williams and Essex decorator Rhys Hayden were the best-performing players from the 16 Rileys Amateur Qualifiers, as both won through to the last 64.
Williams saw off Robert Owen, Adrian Gray and Jose De Sousa before losing out 10-9 to Steve West, while Hayden saw off Jamie Clark, James Richardson and Toni Alcinas before his run was ended by Dimitri Van den Bergh.
Northern Ireland’s McKinstry followed up his win over Sherrock with defeats of Jason Heaver, Stephen Burton and Bradley Brooks as he moved through to the last 32.
He now plays Martin Schindler, who averaged over 102 in a superb performance against Justin Pipe in round four as the German moved into Saturday’s second day.
Two-time UK Open champion James Wade saw off Scotland’s John Henderson 10-5, and the left-hander now comes up against Kim Huybrechts after the Belgian ace saw off Robert Thornton and Ryan Searle on Friday.
Daryl Gurney, Jamie Hughes, Dirk van Duijvenbode and Gabriel Clemens were other 10-9 winners in the fourth round, while Jonny Clayton ended the hopes of two-time Lakeside Champion Waites.
Max Hopp withdrew from the event on Friday morning due to glandular fever. As a result, Martin Atkins – who won three games in the afternoon session – received a Bye in the fourth round draw.
Saturday will see the afternoon session’s fifth round followed in the evening session by the sixth round, before Sunday sees the remaining eight players return to compete for the £100,000 title.
Bristol’s Steve ‘Bomber’ Brown launched a surprise raid on the PDC Pro Tour. It’s almost a decade since Steve reached the later stages of TV majors but he has not been idle in the interval. Despite a decent record, Steve seemed to be destined to be better known for his Junior Darts Corporation (JDC) initiative, or even his Bar501 buisnesses, than his exploits on the dart board. However yesterday he put himself in prime position to claim a 2020 Tour Card!
Steve eased through the early rounds, at Wigan’s Robin Park, before claiming the scalp of the much fancied Jeff Smith (Can). He then managed to take advantage of below par performances from Daniel Lauby and Martin Atkins before bumping into former Pro Tour semi finalist Jason Lowe in the Tour card match. Lowe eased to a 5-1, win averaging over 95, and reclaimed his place at darts top table.
However, Steve is moving nicely through the draw on day 2 and has reached the last 32 stage where he will play Chris Quantock. He looks farvorite to claim a card, either directly or, through the points table after two very good days.
It would certainly be an example to the thousands of youngsters who play under the JDC system in order to improve their darting skills and enjoy the game!
Gary Blades, Jason Lowe and Harald Leitinger were the first three players to win PDC Tour Cards on Day One of the 2020 PDC Qualifying Schools.
The trio all won a Tour Card for the first time with their successes in Wigan and Hildesheim as over 800 players began their quest to secure spots on the PDC circuit.
Lincoln’s Blades, a 39-year-old planner for Anglian Water, makes his return to the circuit after seeing off Tony Newell 5-1 to win their decider in the UK Qualifying School in Wigan.
Blades had previously competed from 2005-2010 on the PDC circuit – competing in the 2005 and 2007 UK Opens – before stepping away from the top level for eight years.
However, his success in claiming eight victories on Thursday – including a 5-2 win over four-time Women’s World Champion Lisa Ashton – saw him claim a coveted two-year PDC Tour Card.
“I’m feeling like this is a weird dream,” admitted Blades. “I didn’t expected today to happen but it has – I’m surprised and ecstatic.
“I stepped away partly because of work and partly because I wasn’t playing well enough. I had a go last year and did okay, but in the last few months I’ve been playing really well.
“I’ve been consistent all day, which isn’t like me! I’ve hit good scores when I needed to and finishes when I needed to. It’s exciting knowing that when the ProTour starts I’ll be there playing the best players in the world.
“We’ll see what happens in the next two years now. Gerwyn Price and Rob Cross are the perfect examples of what can happen when you start testing yourself and get better, so hopefully I can follow in their footsteps.”
Lowe, a 47-year-old builder from Cradley Heath, will also compete full-time on the circuit for the first time since Tour Cards were introduced in 2011 after he was a 5-1 winner over Steve Brown in their final.
Lowe averaged over 100 in wins over Corey Burton and Andrew Foster, before seeing off recent World Championship qualifier Ritchie Edhouse, former Challenge Tour event winner Peter Jacques and 2012 World Championship finalist Andy Hamilton.
Lowe previously reached the last 32 as a qualifier at the 2018 UK Open, but had opted out of the 2019 Qualifying School and only decided to enter this year’s event an hour before the entry deadline on Tuesday.
“I’m totally shocked,” said Lowe. “I only entered at the last minute and there’s nobody more shocked than me today – I’ve played well and I’m thrilled.
“I’ve had some fantastic averages but in some matches I’ve missed some doubles and I’ve been lucky in a couple of games, but you need a bit of luck.
“I’ve got to up my game to stand a chance but I’ll put the practice in, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Austria’s Leitinger, 35, edged past Martijn Kleermaker 5-4 in their final in Hildesheim, after the Dutchman missed his chance to claim a Tour Card in their deciding leg.
Leitinger has only previously competed twice in PDC events, in 2011 and 2017, but will now get his chance to become a full-time professional in 2020 and 2021 after securing his status on the PDC circuit.
He won eight games on the day at Halle 39, including defeats of Austrian World Cup representative Zoran Lerchbacher and former World Youth Championship finalist Berry van Peer in deciding legs.
Leitinger also overcame Dutch duo Wesley Harms and Kay Smeets as well as Belgium’s Brian Raman in the latter stages as he progressed to claim a coveted Tour Card.
“Today was my first day at Q School and I’m very happy,” said Leitinger. “It was very hard for me, I had three games which were 5-4.
“It’s a surprise. I’ve been playing mainly [electronic] darts and now I’ll take the chance in steel darts.”
Kleermaker gained valuable ranking points in his bid to claim a PDC Tour Card, while Raman and Croatia’s Boris Krcmar were semi-finalists on Day One of the four-day Qualifying School in Hildesheim.
Fallon Sherrock, who made history as the first woman to win at the William Hill World Darts Championship last month, claimed three wins – including a 5-4 defeat of returning Paul Nicholson – as she won through to the last 64, before losing out to Darryl Pilgrim.
Ashton joined 2019 Brisbane Darts Masters winner Damon Heta and experienced pair Wayne Jones and Mark Dudbridge in reaching the last 32, while American prospect Danny Lauby joined Andy Hamilton, Robert Collins and Ryan Murray in the last eight.
The 2020 PDC Qualifying School continues on Friday with the second of four days of play, with a further three automatic Tour Cards on offer alongside valuable ranking points for players on the Q School Orders of Merit.
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