Brett Claydon is to show off his darting skills on the continent later this year after qualifying for his first-ever European competition.
The 32-year-old will take to the oche on foreign shores in March after qualifying for this year’s PDC Gibraltar Darts Trophy at Wigan on Sunday.
After negotiating his way past Simon Preston 6-2 in the first round and Ronnie Baxter by the same scoreline in round two, the Soham-based player secured one of the 20 qualifying spots – alongside the likes of Wes Newton and Kevin Painter – with a 6-3 victory over Jason Marriott in the final round.
“One of my targets on my list this year was to qualify for a European event, so to do that already is something I have got to be happy with,” said Claydon. “It gives me something to look forward to.
“The only man I knew I really had in my way was Ronnie Baxter.
“I went 4-0 up on him before he made it 4-2, but then I broke him with a 12-dart leg and checked out on 164 before holding my throw for a 13-dart leg.”
While qualifying for the Gibraltar Darts Trophy, Claydon – who suffered a second-round exit in the preceding German Darts Trophy qualifier – also failed in his attempt at gaining one of the 34 PDC tour cards on offer at this year’s PDC Qualifying School.
“I played really well throughout the Q School, but I just didn’t have any luck and the people that broke me were doing in under 12 darts,” said Claydon. “Three of the four players that knocked me out all went on to get tour cards.
“I was watching some of the other games and there were legs which took over 20 darts to finish and I wondered why I could not have not had one like that.”
Suffering a 5-3 third-round exit on day one on Wednesday to former BDO semi-finalist Robbie Green, Claydon reached round four 24 hours later where he was to bow out 5-2 to young Austrian Roxy James Rodriguez in match which rattled him.
“Roxy got a lot of complaints from the other players for mumbling comments and trying to put them off and in the end he had three officials watching his matches,” said Claydon. “When I lose I
am not bothered about the result and people say to me that I am too nice, but after that match I came off the oche steaming.”
Although defeat against Rodriguez was the furthest Claydon was to go at the
event, which ran from Wednesday to Saturday in Wigan, it was his 5-2 defeat at the hands of Lee Palfreyman in round two on the final day which he felt represented his best chance of gaining a tour card.
“I looked at the side of the draw and really thought I could do some damage that day but Lee was just superb,” said Claydon. “He broke me with two 12-dart finishes taking check-outs of 170 and 164 so it was fair play to him.”
Despite missing out on gaining his PDC tour card Claydon, who will mix both playing on the Unicorn
Challenge Tour and in PDC tour events, is far from down beat .
“I am really looking forward to the year ahead and while I didn’t get a tour card there is very much light at the end of the tunnel after qualifying for the Gibraltar Darts Trophy,” said Claydon. “I still have two more targets to reach this year and they are to qualify for the UK Open and to win two or more matches on a regular basis on PDC tour events.
“I also hope that I can really push on in the Unicorn Challenge Tour to try and get one of the two automatic qualifying spots for a PDC tour card so that I don’t have to go through Q-School again next year.”
Claydon’s next major outing will be in the first UK Open qualifier event next month.