Hello Barnsley my old friend. And what a friend the South Yorkshire town was to Stephen Bunting as the 2023 Pro Tour swung into action.
Over the three days, the Bullet expertly negotiated two board final wins and a brace of qualification spots for the first couple of European Tour Events. Things began very positively for Stephen, kicking things off with a solid 6-4 win over Mike De Decker, averaging just shy of a ton against the Belgian. He then took out two-time World Champion Gary Anderson and Spaniard Jose Justicia comprehensively, both with 6-2 scorelines.
Unfortunately, it was close friend Chizzy who spoiled the opening day party, pinching the last leg decider of a high quality contest.
Onto PC2, and the script began in similar fashion with another excellent performance, once again averaging just a smidgen under the ton mark as the Liverpudlian defeated Martijn Kleermaker 6-3. Bunting then took out a second Dutchman in Luc Peters before claiming the scalp of another multi-major winner in Jonny Clayton. However, it wasn’t to be a hatrick
of wins over men from the Netherlands as new boy to the tour, Richard Veenstra secured a 6-4 victory in the board final.
That was the pro tours done and dusted with an exceedingly good level of satisfaction and success. Now onto Euro Tour business with places in Kiel and Leverkusen up for grabs. Wins over Lee Evans and Gian van Veen booked Stephen his ticket for the Baltic Sea Darts Open at the end of the month. One down, one to go. Then a few hours later, the Bullet ensured he would be on a plane to Germany in March for the European Darts Open after seeing off the Dane, Vladimir Anderson and youngster
It was a very happy scouser who spoke afterwards saying: “I have to be very pleased with the weekend as a whole. My aim coming here was to have a couple of good runs in the pro tours and then look to qualify for the first two European Tour events. That’s exactly what I did so I’m naturally delighted.
“If I was being critical, it was tad disappointing not to go further
after my two board wins. I felt confident and comfortable over the three days but it just would have been nicer to maybe to do a little more damage once I reached the last 16 on each of the pro tour events.
“That said, I probably would have stuck not twisted on Saturday morning if you offered me what I ended up achieving so I’m very satisfied. It’s a quick turnaround before we are all back here next weekend so more of the same would be perfect – or even a little bit more on top