PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIPS 5&6: REPORT

It was almost Deutsch delight for Stephen Bunting as he kicked the German Pro Tour double header in style.

After a magnificent afternoon’s work, the Liverpudlian was denied a second PDC title of the year by Raymond van Barneveld.

Looking to make amends for early Players Championship exits in Wigan and Leicester, Bunting burst out the blocks in determined fashion with a convincing 6-1 victory over Richie Edhouse.

The former Lakeside Champ is very much a Ronseal player – he does exactly what it says on the tin. And on Stephen’s particular tin, it reads ‘scores high 90s with a few ton pluses thrown in’.

So it was no surprise to see the Liverpudlian follow that opening success up with excellent victories over Connor Scutt, Kevin Doets and Ian White with averages of 97.77, 100.20 and 99.23 respectively.

Into the quarter-final and the Bullet shot past Danny Noppert, seeing the Dutchman off with a 6-2 win.

Ever since a trip to American last summer, Bunting and Ross Smith have become quite pally. But on the oche, there is no room for friendships and after a high quality semi-final tussle, it was the scouser who picked off Smudger courtesy of a narrow 7-5 scoreline.

Unfortunately, it was very much a case of ‘After the Lord Mayor’s Show’ in the final against Van Barneveld as Stephen struggled to click into gear. And by the time he did, Barney was almost out of sight as he raced to an 8-1 victory.

Day two began brightly, registering a 6-5 win over last year’s PDC World Championship semi-finalist, Scott Williams. However, the sun stopped shining for Bunting in round two as he fell 6-4 to young Dutch slinger, Owen Roelofs.

Speaking after the tournament, Stephen said: “Bitter sweet really. Of course I was thrilled to have such a long run on Monday, especially given the way the first four Pro Tour events went.

“Disappointed with my performance in the final against Raymond [van Barneveld]. I was playing well but for some reason, I just couldn’t get going and to be fair, he punished every single mistake.

“To be honest, I was more frustrated at the scoreline then the result as I should have given him more of a game. But that’s just darts – sometimes it clicks and sometimes it doesn’t. Congrats to him.

“But all in all, I am very happy with getting my Pro Tour season up and running. These are our bread and butter and you need to be continually picking up money to stay around the top of the rankings.

“I will as always take the positives from the past few days, of which there are quite a lot and push on.”

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