As he leaves Minehead, Stephen Bunting can take a lot of positives away from his thirteenth consecutive UK Open appearance.

For only the second time ever the Liverpudlian reached the quarter-final stage, only bettered by his run to the final four in 2015.

After his maiden PDC TV major title in Milton Keynes several weeks earlier, the newly crowned Masters Champion is hot on the hunt for more silverware.

And with the open fourth round draw throwing up the name Danny Lauby, it was time to get that quest under way against the talented man from Illinois.

Without requiring his top gears, The Bullet comfortably produced a comprehensive 10-3 victory over the American to start the ball rolling.

However, a much tighter contest was to follow later that evening as Bunting faced Dutch born Swedish resident, Kevin Doets.

The match went all the way to the wire but that doesn’t tell the full story. Spurning four match darts and a wonderful opportunity to claim the scalp of a former Lakeside World Champ, Doets watched in agony as Bunting capitalised to grab the last leg decider in an enthralling encounter.

Into the last sixteen and once again Stephen did things the hard way, pipping the highly decorated and flamboyant Peter Wright by the same 10-9 scoreline as his previous round.

With that nasty chest infection affecting all but gone, Bunting put in a sterling display to get the better of Snakebite in another nail biter.

But that was to be his last victory in the 2024 UK Open as, despite knocking in a very credible 98.07 average, it was an on-song Luke Humphries who produced a world number one esque performance to claim a 10-2 win.

After his quarter-final exit, Stephen had this to say. “Of course I am happy to have another good run on TV. Since winning the Masters, I haven’t had the results I would have liked on the Pro Tours. Without looking for excuses, the illness has affected my game but thankfully I feel much better now and well over the worst.

“It’s always satisfying to pull over a last leg winner and I managed to do it twice which shows huge mental strength. Often in tournaments, you have to dodge one or two bullets – no pun intended!

“Against Luke [Humphries] in the quarter-final, I have no complaints. He deserved the win but I will dust myself down and get ready for the first European Tour event of the year in Belgium next weekend.”

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