Over recent months, consistency has been a word Stephen Bunting can confidently say is improving.
Despite not always getting the right results, the performances have been there averaging in the mid 90s at least on the majority of games.
With two bites at European Tour Event cherries, Bunting munched on one. The three day trek to Barnsley began Friday afternoon with a trip to the Czech Darts Open on the table.
It’s been three years since Bunting went all the way to the final in Prague, losing out to Jamie Hughes so another crack at the whip there would have been appreciated.
Unfortunately, that opportunity was lost with a first round defeat to John Henderson.
A couple of hours later, and European Darts Grand Prix in Sindelfingen tickets were available to anyone reaching the last 24. “Yes please”, said Stephen as he ensured his name was in the hat for that one with two emphatic 6-1 wins.
After comprehensively defeating Ricardo Pietreczko, the Liverpudlian brushed aside the incredibly talented Josh Rock with a sublime 98.65 average.
As Meatloaf famously did NOT say – one out of two ain’t bad.
Onto pro-tour business now. Saturday was far better than the Sunday as Bunting looked to get the ideal birthday present of another PDC title.
For a long time, it looked like that could well be the icing on the cake as he began very confidently with a 6-2 win over Jake Jones, averaging just shy of a ton.
That was followed with another strong display to defeat Alan Soutar 6-3 before taking out Welshman, Robert Owens in the board final 6-2 with figures of 97.35.
But sadly that was where the run ended – even though it shouldn’t have. Against Jose Justicia in the last 16, Bunting can consider himself unfortunate but regrettably, didn’t take his chances.
At 5-5, the game entered a decider and quite frankly, both players struggled. Eventually the Spaniard quite literally crawled over the line in 24 darts to end what was – up to that point – a relatively good contest.
Not much to report on the Sunday as it was a first hurdle fall for Stephen to Martin Lukeman.
In the Watford mans defence, he was comfortable the better of the two as Bunting failed to get going. At 5-1, the mountain left was too tall to climb and Lukeman ran out a comfortable winner.
Afterwards, Stephen said: “I guess there are bits of the weekend I can take positives away from.
“It’s always important to qualify for as many European Tour events as a I can for the rankings. After missing out on the Czech Darts Open, I was more than happy to put in two really solid performances to qualify for the other one.
“Only have myself to blame for losing that last 16 game on Saturday. It was a scrappy last leg against Jose [Justicia] which we were both poor in. Just the way it goes but feel that I should have at least reached the quarter-final that day.
“Then on Sunday, I couldn’t get started and Martin deserved it. But it’s another good few wins to take home and I’ve had worse birthdays.”