With the World Championships coming up, the Players Championship Finals in Minehead is always a good preparation tournament.

Stephen Bunting has enjoyed his most successful year to date on the professional circuit but still seeks that elusive maiden television major to put the icing truly on the cake.

Minehead is a good opportunity to finally lift some silverware. It’s a venue which has historically seen a number of players break their duck and pick up titles.

Unfortunately for Bunting, this event wasn’t to be his golden hour. Drawn against Gary Anderson in round one simply emphasised the strength in depth within the top echelons of the PDC.

Despite that, the Liverpudlian should have progressed. Averaging in excess of 100 and leading 4-0 in a race to six, it was seemingly Bunting’s to lose. And lose he did.

As soon as the Bullet failed to ping his double to go 5-0, the two time former World Champion didn’t give him anymore opportunities and was sublime in racing away to a 6-4 victory.

However, Bunting can take some positives from the match but also disappointment at taking his opportunity from such a commanding position.

Speaking exclusively afterwards, he said: “Yes, I should have closed the game out and am annoyed with myself for not doing so.

“It was a tough draw but there are no easy games on the circuit anymore and certainly not in television tournaments. Everyone there can play.

“But I did play very well for large parts of that game. If I took my chance to lead 5-0 then it would have been a different result. That said, hats off to Gary though. Once he got going, he was as magnificent and I just couldn’t stay with him.

“Now I need to focus on the World Championships and hit the practice board hard. I’m playing on Sunday 19th December against the winner of Ross Smith and Jeff Smith.

“Both are incredibly good players so I know I’ll have to be at best to beat either. But I’m throwing really well at the moment and very confident of a deep run this year at Ally Pally.”

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