The annual ‘FA Cup of Darts’ has arrived and 128 players (or so*) will now battle it out at Butlins Minehead for the UK Open crown. I look at five players who are in with a chance of making the headlines this weekend.
The big favourite – Michael van Gerwen
After missing last year’s event due to injury, he will be keen to win back his UK Open title after Peter Wright won the event last year. The unpredictability of the draw rarely affects Michael, who has a track record of defeating anything put in his way. He will be wary of a few of the outsiders but will remain the huge favourite to lift the title. He has defeated ‘Snakebite’ in the final to win both his previous crowns, will he face the Scotsman again?
The newcomer – Corey Cadby
Cadby was already an established name before he won his tour card at Q-School in January but this event marks the start of a new chapter in his career. This is his first PDC major since he won his card and he made easy work of the UK Open Qualifiers earlier this year, winning the fifth qualifier. He ended the qualifiers ranked fourth on the UK Open Order of Merit and although this did little other than securing his place in the third round, it will give him confidence he can have a good run this weekend.
The new PDC star – Danny Noppert
The Dutchman reached the 2017 BDO world final but decided after this year’s BDO World Championship that he would switch to the PDC and give it a go on the full-time circuit. His path to qualification for the UK Open included a run to the quarter-finals in the sixth and final event. He will play either Ryan Harrington or Richie Burnett in the second round and will fancy his chances against either of those.
The former world champion – John Part
Three times world champion John Part narrowly qualified for this year’s UK Open, reaching the event for the first time since 2015. He may not be playing as well as he was when he won each of those three world titles but he still remains a threat in TV events like this. The UK Open often requires a mixture of luck and good form in the right moments and John has enjoyed plenty of that in his career so will be looking forward to his weekend in Minehead.
The former outsider – Paul Hogan
Last year’s UK Open was perhaps most memorable for the run of Paul Hogan, who despite being a Riley’s qualifier, reached the last 16 of the event. On his way, he defeated two-times world champions Gary Anderson and Adrian Lewis before falling short to Gerwyn Price in the fifth round. This year, he once again qualified through the Riley’s events and will start his bid for another run against fellow Riley’s qualifier Darren Brown in round one. Whether he can pull it off again or not, we will have to see but he undeniably has what it takes to knock out a few big names.
*Eleven players have withdrawn from the event due to the recent poor weather conditions. The event will take place behind closed doors due to safety concerns.
Image Credits: Mastercaller