Jones & Dudbridge win tour cards as PDC Unicorn Challenge Tour season ends


Wayne Jones and Mark Dudbridge won PDC Tour Cards following the final PDC Unicorn Challenge Tour events of 2017, which saw Jones and Alan Tabern claim victory in Wigan .

Wolverhampton ace Jones secured top spot in the final 2017 Order of Merit with victory over Stuart Kellett in the Event 19 final yesterday.

Jones has already won two Challenge Tour titles during 2017, and followed up Saturday’s run to the Event 17 final by picking up the £2,000 first prize in Sunday’s opening event.

The former European Championship finalist defeated Bradley Brooks, Rohit Rabadia and Brett Claydon before being taken to a deciding leg by Paul Harvey, Craig Gilchrist and Gary Stone.

Having survived those tight matches, Jones then claimed victory in the final with a 5-3 success against Kellett, the Cheshire ace who was appearing in his first Challenge Tour decider.

Kellett overcame Rachel Brooks, James Hubbard, Edward Lovely, Saturday’s Event 18 winner Nick Fullwell, Paul Phillips and Peter Hudson in his run to the final, as he picked up £1,000 in prize money.

Hudson and Stone were both defeated in a deciding leg at the semi-final stage, while Phillips, Gilchrist, Sam Head and Martin Lukeman won through to the quarter-finals and Event 17 winner Peter Jacques was amongst the last 16.

Tabern bounced back from his narrow loss to Fullwell in the last 64 of Event 19 by going all the way to victory in Event 20, claiming his first title since winning a Challenge Tour treble in 2014.

The left-hander from St Helens overcame Chris Jackson, Radoslaw Szaganski, Michael Dawson and Adam Huckvale to reach the quarter-finals, where he was a 5-3 winner against Barry Lynn.

Tabern then picked up a fifth successive 5-3 triumph as he overcame Diogo Portela in the semi-finals, before repeating the scoreline in the final against Smith-Neale.

Warwickshire’s Smith-Neale, a PDC Unicorn Development Tour event winner five years ago, enjoyed his best run on the Challenge Tour to reach the final.

The 23-year-old overcame Steve McNally, David Copley, Peter Mitchell, Curtis Hammond, Warrick Scheffer and Luke Humphries as he secured his spot in the decider.

Humphries’ 5-3 loss in the last four ended his hopes of claiming second place on the final Order of Merit – and a PDC Tour Card – as he ended the season £800 behind Dudbridge, the former World Championship finalist who will return to the ProTour in 2018.

Brazil’s Portela won through to his first Challenge Tour semi-final in Event 20, overcoming former UK Open champion Barrie Bates and 2017 World Championship qualifier Kevin Simm as well as Event 18 runner-up Kevin Edwards.

Former UK Open quarter-finalist Lynn joined South Africa’s Warrick Scheffer, Edwards and Martin Lukeman in the last eight of Event 20.

The double-header completed the year’s Challenge Tour season, with £200,000 in prize money having been paid out to players on the PDC’s second-tier tour.

Alongside two-year Tour Cards for Jones and Dudbridge, the players ranked from third to eighth on the final Order of Merit – Humphries, Jacques, Aaron Dyer, Tabern, Mark Frost and Kevin McDine – earn free entry to the 2018 PDC Qualifying School.


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