BELGIUM DARTS OPEN: REPORT

It’s back to back tournament quarter-finals for Stephen Bunting as he followed up his recent good showing at the UK Open with a positive run in the Belgian Darts Open.

Still awaiting that maiden title on European soil, the prospect seems increasingly more likely to happen soon now that gleaming Masters trophy sits proudly on his mantlepiece.

On this occasion though, Bunting will have to be satisfied with a last eight berth and knocking out two of Belgiums’s finest on home soil.

When the opening draw was made, neither the Bullet or Dimitri Van den Bergh could have been thrilled to see their names side by side. But such is the new format for this year’s European Tour, it increases the odds of high quality first round match ups.

So with both this year’s PDC TV major winners clashing in Wiese on night one, it was Bunting who upset the script on the Dream-Makers heroic return to his native land.

Just a week after Van den Bergh picking up the UK Open title, Stephen ended the homecoming party early for the Belgian fans as he pipped their national number one to the post in a thrilling last leg deciding encounter.

However, the figures show the former Lakeside Champ was worthy of victory, topping the scoring, finishing and average stats.

There was more drama to come from the man from St Helens as he was embroiled in yet another nervy final leg shoot-out, this time against Josh Rock.

After trailing the Northern Irishman for most of the match, Bunting finally got his nose in front 5-4 before Rock drew level leaving the scouser to serve things out for victory.

Objective one achieved for Stephen – an appearance in the last day of a European Tour event.

And despite a very pro Mike De Decker crowd, Bunting managed to once again silence the fans, taking out another Belgian courtesy of a 6-3 win and his first ton plus average of the weekend.

However, any hopes of finally getting that Euro Tour monkey off his back were ended as Gerwyn Price took the spoils 6-4 in their quarter-final clash despite Stephen boasting the higher average with a highly credible 102.71.

But for the Welshman’s devastating prowess on the outer ring, missing just one double throughout the contest, it may easily have been Bunting who progressed. Such is darts.

After the match against Price, our man had this to say.

“Yeah I am very pleased with another strong run and some excellent wins. But to propel me further up the rankings, I need to turn these quarter-finals into finals or even titles.

“In my defence, I don’t think I did much wrong against Gezzy [Price]. He just wasn’t missing the doubles and when you come up against that, it’s never easy.

“But I beat three incredibly good opponents this weekend, including two who had their home nation crowd understandably in their corner. They are never easy games to win.

“Apart from the opening two rounds of Pro Tours when I was very much under the weather, I am extremely happy with how my year has begun. Winning my first TV major obviously has a lot to do with that!

“We keep going and I am confident things will continue to click into place with more titles to come.”

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