DENNIS Smith is looking to take a big step towards the World Championship in December as he begins his Dutch Darts Masters campaign this evening.
The Swindon player currently holds one of the 16 available qualifying spots for players outside the world’s top 32, and is looking to take advantage this weekend with a number of his closest rivals having not qualified for the final European Tour event of the season.
Smith earned his place in the event in Nuland by qualifying at the start of the month, and is keen to make up for lost time having not made it to a European Tour event so far this season.
“It is great to be in one of this events at last, and I am just looking forward to getting going,” he said.
“This is a good chance for me to go and get some prize money because there are a lot of players who have not made it in.
“This is not like the Players’ Championship events where you have to keep getting yourself up for matches, there is one match a session here, and you just have to focus on that.
“The Dutch crowds are good too and are great to play in front of, so it should be a good event to be involved in.”
Smith begins his campaign against Premier League player Andy Hamilton in tonight’s first round, and is looking for revenge.
“Andy beat me in the World Championship a couple of years ago, and I don’t think I have played him since so it would be good to get him back,” Smith said. “I am happy with the draw though because it is always good to play against the best players, and I am positive about my chances.
“We are on the main board too which is great, because you can soak up all the atmosphere.
Smith will be joined in the Netherlands by his fellow Swindon player Johnny Haines, who starts against Peter Wright on board two.
Haines has already competed in two European Tour events in Austria and Germany, and knows exactly what to expect.
“Dennis hasn’t played in one of these before, so I will be showing the novice what to do,” he said.
“Peter won a Players’ Championship event last weekend so he will be confident, but I am confident too.
“We start from scratch this weekend, and I am confident I can do well.”