A trip to Gibraltar and a Players Championship quarter-final were Stephen Buntings rewards for a five day darting marathon in Barnsley.
On the opening afternoon of the week, the Liverpudlian sailed past Steve West and Luke Woodhouse, both with a 6-2 scoreline to book his place in October’s Gibraltar Darts Trophy.
And the following day, more excellence was to come from the former Lakeside World Champion as he performed magnificently to reach the last eight of Players Championship 22.
The run began with a comprehensive 6-1 win over Darren Webster before hitting a sensational 104.81 average to see off Jason Lowe.
Jose De Sousa awaited in the board final. When the two last met a little over a month ago in the same venue, Bunting was left to rue crucial missed doubles before losing out to the Portuguese.
However, on this occasion, it was De Sousa who failed to convert his opportunities and Stephen capitalised to seal a last leg shoot-out win.
Martijn Kleermaker offered no threat in the last 16 as the Bullet shot past the Dutchman 6-1 to set up a quarter-final with Nathan Aspinall.
But despite neither player reaching top gear, it was the Asp who grabbed a 6-4 win en route to winning the event.
Day three – and unfortunately Bunting walked head first into a Gary Anderson shaped hurricane. The Scot rolled back the years, hitting a 111.13 average to claim a 6-1 win. To be fair to Stephen, he registered 102.23 which would win you more games than you’d lose.
Then on the last of the Players Championships, Bunting can once again consider himself incredibly unfortunate to not have gone further than round two.
The afternoon began with a 6-0 defeat of Mike De Decker in which Stephen hit a colossal 102.48 average. Frustratingly, he then repeated the figure against Matt Campbell but was on the wrong end of a 6-4 scoreline against the Canadian.
Speaking after the weeks action, Stephen said: “Very tiring! It’s a long week but thankfully I qualified for one of the European events and had a good run in a pro tour.
“Felt unlucky, especially on the Friday as I played really well but just didn’t get the result against Matt [Campbell].
“But I know I’m playing well, my averages are good and there wasn’t many games I dipped below 90.
“Overall, I am satisfied with the week. My game is there, just a case of continuing the work hard on the practice board and getting ready for a busy back end of the year.”