Brett Claydon has high hopes of securing an early return to the PDC Coral UK Open when the first weekend of qualifiers get under way tomorrow.
The Cambridgeshire county player will be among a field of more than 200 hopefuls at the Robin Park Tennis Centre in Wigan, with a triple-header of tournaments taking place over the next three days.
Players will see their money earned each day go towards the UK Open Order of Merit, which at the end of the sixth qualifier on February 21, will determine who qualifies for next month’s televised finals in Minehead.
Claydon finished in 79th place on the Order of Merit to qualify for last year’s event for the first time, where he was beaten 5-1 by Joey ten Berge in the last 128.
“This weekend is a big weekend,” the Soham-based thrower said.
“I want to do well so I can be near-enough qualified and have no pressure on me when the next qualifiers happen.
“The draw can be hard against you sometimes. You need a bit of luck so you play the right players at the right time.
“Hopefully I can put it all together this weekend.”
Last year it took a 6-5 win against 2012 UK Open winner Robert Thornton on the final day of qualifiers for Claydon to book his place at Minehead, but the Burwell Super League player is hopeful of an easier qualification this time round.
“We were on the same score of 116 in the final leg,” Claydon recalls. “He went treble 20, 16 and then missed tops and I hit 20, treble 20 and double 18 to beat him 6-5.
“I’ve got good memories and I’m really looking to forward to it. I’ve been practicing really hard and I think it’s going to be a busy year for me.”
Last month, Claydon narrowly missed out on claiming a tour card at the Professional Darts Corporation’s Qualifying School, finishing on nine points on the Q-School Order of Merit.
The final tour card went to Ron Meulenkamp who ended up on 10 points, yet Claydon is already focused on bouncing back from that disappointment during the rest of 2016.
“It was hard missing out on a tour card at Q-School by one game, but I looked at the positives from it,” he said.
“After Q-School finished I had a four-hour drive from there to Devon to play for Cambridgeshire, and it was a long journey I must say.
“It was hard to take, but I put myself in that position for the first time, so it is a step in the right direction.”