UK Open Qualifier 7

With a few exceptions most PDC Pro Tour events this year take place in Wigan - among them the UK Open Qualifiers 7 and 8.
Wigan is a city with around 90 000 inhabitants in the Greater Manchester region and well connected to Manchester airport. The Celts had settled here at the River Douglas and the Romans had liked it there as well. Today Wigan is an industrial town with an University of Mining and Techniques. Beside Wigan has got a football club playing in Premier League. It sits on the 18. League place and it's called Wigan Athletic.

Wigan is not really a popular tourist destination and the choice of accommodation is slightly limited. And near the Robin Park Tennis Centre where the darts are played you'll find none at all. A lot of dart players stayed somewhere in the town Centre. I myself had found a hotel quite nearby - a Wetherspoon hotel - which turned out to be a really good choice. Well-arriving there it turned out something with the booking had been mixed up. But there was an available room so I could check in on Friday evening and I was promised it would be sorted out in the morning.
So after breakfast in the pub I returned to the reception and was told I could stay in the room. The morning was fine and I marched first through a small park, through the nice town centre and finally a not really attractive industrial region to the venue.

As I've been to Wigan before I had no problem to find my way. Robin Park Tennis Centre is situated beside a small shopping mile just across the stadium of Wigan Athletics. The venue in which the tournament took place was well-filled - as I had expected looking at the high number of registered players. After the first qualifiers the PDC had decided to hang up some additional unnumbered boards in between the usual 16 boards. As always on the Pro Tour it's forbidden to take pictures during the tournament and people are asked to be as quiet as possible or to go outside for conversation so that the players will not be distracted. But with approximately 400 people in the venue of course the noise level just is quite high.

It was more or less impossible to get an overview. I saw Phil Taylor when he passed by but there were players I never did see during both days though they were present. As on both days the other German players were eliminated soon I first watched Bernd Roith's matches. Tomas Seyler had missed his plane and didn't turn up at all as he had already qualified for the UK Open. On Saturday Bernd first won a close match against Antonio Alcinas and his second match against Daryl Gurney from Northern Ireland. Then he lost his third match to the later tournament winner Kim Huybrechts.
I stayed where I was and watched Micky Mansell defeating Arron Monk, before Micky lost his next match to Kevin McDine. Kevin McDine to be sure was for me one of the outstanding players of the weekend - for a long time one didn't hear anything about him but he played good darts the whole weekend and it was not easy to win against him. He scored well consistently and was very sure with his finishes. Against Mansell he opened almost every leg with a 180. Mansell was another impressive player at the weekend as well - he looks much more comfortable playing a floor tournament then he looks on stage. From Kevin McDine I switched to Wes Newton against Scott Rand. Scott Rand won in the end, he scored better and finished better then Newton despite the four 180s from Newton!

From the beginning I had an eye on John Part as well who had a lot of luck on the day. He didn't really play good darts and in most legs his opponents had played down well to might be 40 or 32 points while John still had over 100. But John just pulled another high finish out from nowhere and won match after match before he finally was beaten in the final by the clearly better player on the day - Kim Huybrechts. John himself seemed to be rather astonished that he was able to get as far playing such "crap" (that's what he said himself!).

As usually on a Pro Tour event most players disappeared soon after they had been eliminated. Bernd Roith wanted to go to the town Centre, Max Hopp had returned with Jerry Hendriks with whom he shared the room, to the hotel a long time ago. So I was quite surprised when I saw Jyhan Artut during the final. It turned out he had convinced the two Swedish players Magnus Caris and Pär Rihonen, and John Part and his girlfriend to accompany him to a Chinese buffet. And as I was still there as well and there was a place in the taxi he took me along as well.

Back in the hotel I couldn't open my door! I was afraid they had dislodged me after all but it was only the magnetic card which had discharged - no idea why. So I could retreat to my room while the pub below me was very busy. I slept deep and didn't hear anything till in the middle of the night some body rattled at my door and tried to get into the room. But as I had locked the door as a matter of prudence I didn't bother but just turned around and slept on...

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