Sadly for Stephen Bunting, his involvement in Rosmalen at the Dutch Darts Championship ended prematurely after an opening match defeat to Jeffrey De Graaf.

With the 2024 European Tour now entering the back straight, The Bullet was looking to start the run-in with another familiar appearance on the final day of continental action.

However, an extremely rare sub 90 average from the reigning Masters Champion wasn’t enough to overcome his Dutch born Swedish opponent with De Graaf claiming a 6-3 victory.

Beginning proceedings on Saturday afternoon, the pair nervously struggled to hold their advantage with the first five legs bizarrely resulting in breaks of throw.

It was De Graaf who then managed to end that trend and forge a 4-2 lead. And after that, the Liverpudlian could only watch in anguish as the Swede crossed the winning line.

Despite a very healthy 43% checkout on doubles, Bunting will take heart from the fact it’s not often he takes to the oche without his shooting boots on.

After the match, Bunting said: “Naturally I am very disappointed to go out early but my scoring simply wasn’t good enough.

“As you could see from the stats, I had a good conversion rate on the doubles but when you aren’t hitting the 180s and 140s regularly, those opportunities at the outer ring are limited.

“I’ll just chalk this one down to a bad day at the office. It just didn’t click on stage for me this afternoon and I struggled to get going.

“It happens so I won’t dwell upon it too much. Onwards and upwards!”

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