DARTS: Smiffy keen to get off to a fast start
5:30am Saturday 18th January 2014 in By Andy Warren, Deputy sports editor, email@example.com, @AndyWarren_
SWINDON’S PDC players will be looking to get the new season off to a blistering start when they bid to qualify for the first two European Tour events of the season tomorrow.
Following the conclusion of Qualifying School today, where Mark Cox, Jack Tweddell and John Newland are looking to win full-time tour cards, the likes of Dennis Smith, Chris Aubrey and Johnny Haines will be competing in Wigan tomorrow in two tournaments in a bid to earn places at firstly the German Darts Championship and then the Dutch Darts Masters.
After struggling to qualify for events on the continent in 2012, Smith upped his game last season and is hoping to pick up where he left off last season when the circuit begins again.
“It’s great to be back so early after Christmas and we’re all looking forward to playing again,” he said.
“I didn’t really slow down at all over Christmas and I played in a few tournaments and got through plenty of rounds, so I’ve been active, but it’s just proper match practice I’m missing.
“It would be great to start the season quickly because that’s something which is sometimes hard to do, but I know what is required now and I know I can do it.
“It’s going to be harder because only the top 16 qualify for it direct so there’s going to be more players in there battling with us.”
The first PDC major tournament on the horizon is the UK Open, moved forward to March and switched to Minehead for 2014, but Smith is expecting a tougher test than usual when qualifying begins for the ‘FA Cup of darts’ later this month.
“The main priority is, as always, getting into the UK Open because that’s the first hurdle for us and it’s a lot earlier this year.
“It’s going to be harder to qualify this year as well because there’s only six qualifying events so you need to be consistent and make the most of the chances.”
Cox, Tweddell and Newland all have once final chance to earn their PDC tour cards after missing out yesterday.
Newland made the most progress once again before losing in round four to Pete Dyos, while Cox fell to former BDO world champion Christian Kist a round previously.