The 2024 PDC Masters Champion is music to the ears of every Stephen Bunting fan on planet darts, and an orchestral symphony to the man himself.
It’s been a decade in the making but this is finally the Year Of The Bullet. That may well sound like a 1950s gangster film but it’s a script that the Liverpudlian wrote, directed and starred in.
After knocking on the door, and especially loudly in recent months, it eventually swung wide open to give Bunting the first of what he hopes are many PDC television titles.
However, the successful campaign almost ended on night one. But for a magnificent and resilient recovery from 5-2 down to Ross Smith, the former Lakeside World Champion could have been heading back up the M6 on Friday night.
But Stephen is a different animal these days. Mentally much stronger, tungsten wise much heavier and hitting the kind of averages to be the mix at every tournament.
And so it proved as he knocked in four legs on the bounce to break Smudger’s heart and book himself a gig with the reigning World Champ.
Speaking of hungry animals, few have dominated the jungle more than Luke Humphries of late. Cool Hand has collected more silverware than a pirate in the past six months and propelled himself to the top of the PDC charts.
For Bunting it was imperative to get off to a strong start and breaking the number one’s throw on leg one was the ideal way to do it. After that, the scouser was always in control and stayed ahead all the way to record a famous 10-7 victory.
Into the third and final day of the Masters and another World Champion awaited in the form of Peter Wright. Sadly for darts fans, this is a Snakebite who for now seems to have lost that bite.
The Bullet however, very much had his fangs on display and coasted to a comfortable 10-2 victory with a ton plus average and almost half of his shots at double finding their target.
So into the semi-final and another stern test in the reigning World Matchplay Champ, Nathan Aspinall. At this stage though, Bunting’s eyes were lighting up at the prospect of finally hitting the jackpot and shaking that monkey off his back.
With another formidable display, Stephen brushed aside another highly credible opponent aside with a impressive exhibition of scoring and finishing to register an eyebrow raising 11-1 victory.
That corridor to the long awaited winner’s circle was guarded fiercely by Michael van Gerwen. A man who dashed Bunting’s World Championship dreams emphatically only a matter of weeks ago at the Ally Pally.
But with former European Champion, Ross Smith being the only player in the tournament to be leading our man, confidence was sky high.
If you are going to claim for your maiden PDC TV title, then beating the inimitable MVG in the final is the crowing glory.
And that is precisely what Bunting did as he surged to the promised land in style. With the midway scores locked at 6-6, the Bullet stuck another magazine in the chamber and fired his way to a brilliant 11-7 win.
Holding back the tears in the back room afterwards, an emotional Stephen Bunting had this to say.
“To say I am absolutely thrilled is a huge understatement. This is a day I’ve been dreaming of ever since I came to the PDC.
“I know my game has never been in a better place and was very confident of picking up a TV trophy soon but to finally do it feels magical.
“All those hours of hard work on the practice board knowing I would eventually win a big one have at last paid off. I literally couldn’t be any happier.
“I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has supported and believed in me over the years all my fans, family, management and sponsors. Let’s hope I can push on from this and repeat that success. Now I have tasted victory, I am incredibly hungry for more.”