TWO MORE THROUGH AND ONE DAY LEFT AT A DRAMATIC PDC QUALIFYING SCHOOL

BAETENS & BENNETT BECAME LATEST DUO TO SECURE PDC TOUR CARDS

Andy Baetens and Leighton Bennett became the latest players to secure Tour Cards as the Final Stage of the 2024 PDC Qualifying Schools continued in Milton Keynes and Kalkar on Saturday.

The penultimate day of Final Stage action saw Baetens produce a series of superb displays in Kalkar to secure his place on the professional circuit, capping off a memorable few weeks for the Belgian.

The newly crowned WDF Champion averaged 96 across his seven matches, to join Dutch duo Martijn Dragt and Jelle Klaasen in securing automatic Tour Cards via European Qualifying School.

Baetens began Day Three without a point to his name, although he signalled his intent with a whitewash win over Sweden’s Jeffrey de Graaf in round one.

He then rallied from 4-0 down to edge out Michael Unterbuchner and avenge his defeat to the German on Friday, before breezing through to the last eight with wins over Born Van Put and Alexander Masek.

The Belgian continued his charge, averaging 98 and 102 in 6-3 wins against Paul Krohne and Vitezslav Sedlak in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively to set up a blockbuster tie against Radek Szaganski.

Szaganski – a winner on the Players Championship circuit last October – was bidding to secure an instant return to the ProTour, only for Baetens to race into a 4-1 lead with legs of 13, 11, 13 and 14 darts.

However, Szaganski fought back from 5-2 down to force a decider, surviving multiple match darts and converting a 101 skin-saver along the way, before Baetens sealed the deal with a 16-dart hold.

Meanwhile, at UK Qualifying School, Bennett came through a 124-player field at the Marshall Arena to join Ireland’s Steve Lennon and newcomer Robert Grundy in claiming automatic Tour Cards.

The 18-year-old recovered from a sluggish start to overcome Thomas Cromwell in the Day Three decider, reeling off four consecutive legs from 3-2 down to celebrate a landmark victory.

Bennett opened Saturday’s proceedings with an emphatic 6-1 success against Poland’s Kamil Janowicz, which he followed with victories over Brandon Jones and Carl Wilson.

The prodigiously-talented youngster then averaged 101 in his last 16 success against Scott Winder, before brushing aside Brett Claydon and Kieron Bridgwater in the latter stages of the campaign.

Following Bennett’s victory, former WDF number one James Hurrell and Scotland’s William Borland top the UK Q School Order of Merit with seven points apiece, as they close in on coveted Tour Cards.

Matthew Dennant and George Killington are also strongly placed on six points, with two-time World Championship quarter-finalist Darren Webster and American ace Danny Lauby also in the provisional qualification places.

Elsewhere, Haupai Puha’s run to the semi-finals at European Qualifying School ensures he will become the first PDC Tour Card Holder from New Zealand.

The former World Cup of Darts quarter-finalist tops the Order of Merit with nine points, while Jules van Dongen is assured of an instant return to the ProTour in 2024, after finishing Day Three on eight points.

Poland’s Szaganski and Dutchman Patrick Geeraets are in dominant positions on seven points apiece, just ahead of Belgium’s Mario Vandenbogaerde and Danish youngster Benjamin Reus.

Sunday’s action will offer a final opportunity for players to win automatic two-year Tour Cards, with play commencing at 1300 CET in Kalkar and 1200 GMT in Milton Keynes.

The remaining 23 Tour Cards will be allocated to players from the UK and European Q School Final Stage Orders of Merit, with a further 13 Tour Cards on offer via European Q School, while ten players will come through the UK rankings.

2023 PDC Qualifying Schools Final Stage

UK Q School Final Stage Day Three

Last 16

Kieron Bridgwater 6-4 Keelan Kay

Joshua Richardson 6-2 Mike Warburton

Brett Claydon 6-1 Jim McEwan

Leighton Bennett 6-3 Scott Winder

Darren Webster 6-4 James Huthwaite

Thomas Cromwell 6-3 George Killington

Rhys Griffin 6-3 Lee Cocks

James Beeton 6-2 James Hurrell

Quarter-Finals

Kieron Bridgwater 6-3 Joshua Richardson

Leighton Bennett 6-3 Brett Claydon

Thomas Cromwell 6-4 Darren Webster

Rhys Griffin 6-3 James Beeton

Semi-Finals

Leighton Bennett 6-2 Kieron Bridgwater

Thomas Cromwell 6-4 Rhys Griffin

Final

Leighton Bennett 6-3 Thomas Cromwell

European Q School Final Stage Day Three

Last 16

Andy Baetens 6-3 Alexander Masek

Paul Krohne 6-3 Jani Keskinarkaus

Dominik Gruellich 6-2 Marko Kantele

Vitezslav Sedlak 6-3 Jules van Dongen

Patrick Geeraets 6-5 Damian Mol

Radek Szaganski 6-2 Arno Merk

Haupai Puha 6-1 Angelo Balsamo

Stefaan Henderyck 6-4 Liam Maendl-Lawrance

Quarter-Finals

Andy Baetens 6-3 Paul Krohne

Vitezslav Sedlak 6-2 Dominik Gruellich

Radek Szaganski 6-0 Patrick Geeraets

Haupai Puha 6-3 Stefaan Henderyck

Semi-Finals

Andy Baetens 6-3 Vitezslav Sedlak

Radek Szaganski 6-4 Haupai Puha

Final

Andy Baetens 6-5 Radek Szaganski

Final Stage

January 14

UK Qualifying School

Start Time: 1200 GMT

Each day’s winner secures an automatic PDC Tour Card

Format: best of 11 legs

European Qualifying School

Start Time: 1300 CET

Each day’s winner secures an automatic PDC Tour Card

Format: best of 11 legs

In addition to the daily Tour Card winners, a further 13 Tour Cards will be awarded to players from the European Q School Order of Merit, while ten players will come through the UK Q School Order of Merit.

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