2017 PDC Qualifying School – Day Four Round-Up

Paul Nicholson, Kirk Shepherd, Antonio Alcinas and Martin Schindler were the final four automatic PDC Tour Card winners on the final day of the 2017 PDC Qualifying School, with Ronnie Baxter, Mickey Mansell, Dutch duo Jimmy Hendriks and Sven Groen and Latvia’s Madars Razma also securing a Tour Card.

Following the opening three days of Qualifying School, Sunday saw the final four automatic Tour Cards handed to the day’s last four players.

In addition, 12 more Tour Cards are awarded to players from the final Qualifying School Order of Merit, based on ranking points won across the four days at Wigan’s Robin Park Tennis Centre.

Former Players Championship Finals winner Nicholson had experienced Qualifying School for the first time this weekend after dropping out of the world’s top 64, but after reaching the last 16 on Friday and last eight on Saturday finally secured a top-four finish to retain his Tour Card without relying on ranking points.

He defeated Kevin Lane, Jordan Boyce, Mark Hylton, Richard Baillie, Gary Stone, Paul Cook and Bryan de Hoog on the day in Wigan, never losing more than three legs in a game and picking up two whitewashes along the way.

“I saw what John Part did on Saturday and I got a lot of motivation from that, and to win my Tour Card outright means a lot,” said Nicholson.

“I felt like there was no pressure on me at all but I still want to be the kind of person who wants to win no matter what the prize is. It was a case of going to the end and being the last man standing.

“I wanted to keep on winning and get some confidence going into the UK Open Qualifiers, and that’s exactly what I’ve done.

“Last year I played some really good games which said to me that I can still live with the best standard, but the one thing that was missing was putting a run together of five, six, seven games in a row.

“If I’ve learned anything from Q School, that is it, to grind it out and get back to basics and do the right things at the right times. I did that today and I’m really proud of myself.”

2008 World Championship finalist Shepherd bounced back from his loss to John Part in Saturday’s decisive matches to secure his return to the PDC ProTour by going all the way 24 hours later.

The Kent thrower overcame Paul Milford, Paul Osmotherley, Chris White, Terry Roach and Stuart Kellett to reach the final matches, where he whitewashed experienced Ronnie Baxter.

“I’m delighted, thrilled,” said Shepherd. “From start to finish I felt great.

“It absolutely broke my heart losing to John Part on Saturday – if there was one game I wanted to win, it was that, but if you lose to a player like that there’s no disgrace.

“In a way I felt like I’d done enough, but I wanted to come here today and get through on merit, and I’m so happy I have done. That was my aim on each day and I’m as proud as punch that I’ve done it.

“At the moment I’m in a better place than I’ve been for the last ten years, and I’m not just saying that because I’m on a high at the moment. I’m in a good place and I really feel I can kick on this year.

“I’ve always felt my game’s there but my own worst enemy has been myself, but I’ve changed a lot of things and I think things are going to look up for me now.”

Spanish star Alcinas also secured his return to the ProTour in style with whitewash victories in his final two games of the day, against Dean Forde and Jimmy Hendriks.

The six-time World Cup of Darts representative and two-time World Championship qualifier has missed out on winning back his Tour Card for the past two years, but also defeated Colin Osborne, Ron Seddon, Par Riihonen, Paul Phillips and Haruki Muramatsu on Sunday.

German youngster Schindler, a three-time European Tour qualifier who also competed in the PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship last year, will join the PDC ProTour for the first time this year after being Sunday’s final automatic Tour Card winner.

The 20-year-old from Berlin defeated Jose Henrique Pinto de Sena, Sven Groen, South African duo Nolan Arendse and Warrick Scheffer and Davyd Venken before seeing off Paul Rowley 5-3 in their decider.

Rowley’s run on Sunday, allied to his performances over the four days, saw him amongst the 12 players from the Qualifying School Order of Merit to also win Tour Cards, taking the field of PDC Tour Card professionals to 128 for 2017.

Scotland’s Jamie Bain topped the final Q School Order of Merit ahead of Dutch youngsters Hendriks and Groen – a former Development Tour event winner – five-time TV finalist Ronnie Baxter and experienced Steve Hine.

Northern Irish left-hander Mickey Mansell won back his Tour Card at the first time of asking after dropping to 67th in the world rankings following the recent William Hill World Darts Championship.

Manchester-based Scott Darbyshire, York’s Chris Quantock – a two-time Challenge Tour event winner – and Canada’s John Norman all won a Tour Card for the first time, with Yorkshire’s Darren Johnson winning through Qualifying School for the third time.

Madars Razma, who lost in the decisive matches on Friday, will become the first Latvian player to hold a PDC Tour Card after being the 12th player from the Q School Order of Merit to progress onto the PDC ProTour.

Dutchman Bryan de Hoog and Matthew Edgar missed out on winning a Tour Card by one point, but will be the first two reserves to make up the field at Players Championship events to 128 players should any Tour Card Holders not enter.

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