Reigning champion James Wade overcame a major scare against Stephen Bunting on the opening night of the Speedy Services UK Open in Bolton as Ted Hankey exited the event to Mervyn King.
World number three Wade stared defeat in the face against Merseyside’s Bunting, one of the 64 amateur qualifiers who are competing alongside the sport’s top names in the £200,000 event.
Bunting hit four 180s and averaged over 101, but missed four match darts to defeat Wade, as the left-hander hit back from 3-2 down to edge to a 4-3 win last night.
“I rode my luck a bit there,” admitted Wade. “Stephen played really well and had his chances, so it’s a big relief to be through to Friday night.”
Another top left-hander, last year’s semi-finalist Mark Webster, also had to come from behind to win 4-3 in his clash with Swindon’s Johnny Haines, who paid for missing one dart at the bull to take victory in their game.
Denis Ovens, who has reached the semi-finals in Bolton for the past two years, won three matches on the night to progress to the last 64, defeating Craig MacCaskill, John Nelson and local favourite Joe Murnan.
Ted Hankey, the two-time Lakeside Champion making his first UK Open appearance since joining the PDC in January, defeated Leeds’ qualifier Danny Dutson and experienced Andy Jenkins to reach round two, but lost out 4-1 to Mervyn King.
Hankey led King 1-0 but saw the Norfolk star hit back to take four straight legs for the win, as he moves into the third round on Friday.
“I was expecting a harder task than I was presented with because I know how good Ted is,” said King. “We go back a long way and he’s very hard to beat, but maybe after playing the first two matches he ran out of steam a little bit.”
2004 UK Open champion Roland Scholten progressed with a narrow 4-3 win over Welshman Steve Evans, while 2009 runner-up Colin Osborne moved into the third round with a 4-2 defeat of Scotland’s John Henderson.
There was disappointment, though, for two other previous UK Open finalists, Mark Walsh and Shayne Burgess, who were defeated by Jason Crawley and Liam Kelly respectively.
Former World Champion Steve Beaton crashed out in the preliminary round to amateur qualifier Jon Jukes, a bin man from Oxford, while Alan Tabern needed only ten minutes to defeat Dutchman Co Stompe 4-0.
Paul Nicholson, who knocked out Gary Anderson and Phil Taylor in reaching the quarter-finals last year, overcame youngster Harry Miles and amateur qualifier Tony Cooper to reach the third round.
Former Under-21 World Champion Arron Monk, Leamington Spa undertaker Nigel Heydon, Northamptonshire’s Kevin McDine, York’s Terry Temple and amateurs Scott Robertson, Mark Layton, Paul Amos David Dodds and Dean Stewart all won three matches on the night to move into the last 64.
Australian ace Simon Whitlock drew Temple, St Helens’ Dave Chisnall plays Welshman Layton, Andy Hamilton meets Essex newcomer Richie Howson and Holland’s Michael van Gerwen plays Irish ace William O’Connor.
Play continues tonight.
Latest Odds: 15/8 Phil Taylor (Blue Square), 10/1 James Wade (sportingbet), 11/1 Adrian Lewis (Sky Bet), 12/1 Gary Anderson (bet365, Sky Bet), 12/1 Simon Whitlock (general), 18/1 bar.