A few days in Wigan for Stephen Bunting provided quite the mixed bag of results. However, another Euro Tour event sealed and a couple of grand in the bank is an acceptable return.
Day one – and the opportunity to qualify firstly for the Jack’s Dutch Darts Championships at the end of the month. And despite a decent opening performance from the Bullet, it was the Lithuanian Darius Labanauskas who dashed his dreams of a trip to Zwolle.
Dusted down and raring to go again that day, Bunting made no mistake in the afternoon’s second qualifying event. A quite breathtaking whitewash of Vladimir Anderson, posting an enormous 106.09 in doing so stunned the Dane.
That was followed with another comfortable victory over fellow former Lakeside World Champ, Richie Burnett to book Stephen’s spot for the European Darts Matchplay in Trier, Germany.
Onto the Players Championship. And in the first one it was somewhat of a Greek tragedy with John Michael grabbing the last leg decider in a thrilling encounter.
Determined to make amends on the Wednesday, Bunting began with a solid 6-2 victory over Dave Evans.
The Liverpudlian then put in two outstanding back to back performances to reach the last 16 stage.
Firstly, a comprehensive 6-2 win over Austrian, Rowby-John Rodriguez with a colossal 105.03 average before another brilliant outing against Madars Razma.
The Latvian posted an average north of a ton himself but Bunting grabbed the all important deciding leg in a high standard contest to progress.
Unfortunately, it was the Bullet’s turn to be on the wrong end of an eleven legger next with Ryan Joyce sealing a 6-5 win despite a near 96 average for Bunting.
Afterwards, we caught up with Stephen to hear his thoughts on the trip to Wigan.
“Of course, very happy to qualify for another European Tour Event. It would have been nice to have secured both but fair play to Darius [Labanauskas]. It was a close game and he edged it.
“Bit disappointed with my opening match of the Pro Tour. Felt I played well enough to beat John Michael but that’s darts – sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t.
“But I was pleased with how I bounced back on the Wednesday. I had three excellent wins and played very well in them all. Then against Ryan [Joyce] in the last 16, that could have easily gone either way – a very close contest.
“Once again, my scoring was very consistent. There was only one match over the three days where I didn’t average over 90 – and that was an 89.39 against Richie Burnett which I won.
“If I can be more clinical on my doubles then I’m confident titles will come. My game is very good, I just need to tighten things up on the outer ring.”