Jamie Hughes to make his World Matchplay debut after winning Czech Open
Yozza hammers Stephen Bunting 8-3 in the final for maiden PDC title and will join 31 other players in Blackpool for the World Matchplay - live on Sky Sports, July 20-28
By Paul Prenderville
Last Updated: 01/07/19 9:52am
Jamie Hughes produced a stellar performance to win the Czech Open, claim the biggest winners cheque of his career and with it a debut at this month's World Matchplay.
The inaugural tournament in Prague always promised to be dramatic with the final three places in Blackpool also up for grabs as well as the title and on a weekend when the big names faltered it was Hughes who achieved a memorable double.
A two-time BDO World Championship semi finalist, Hughes earned his PDC card at Q-school in January after a year on the Challenge Tour and has gone from strength to strength culminating in his first senior title with the PDC.
Having won a place via qualifiers last weekend, Yozza headed for the Czech Republic also knowing he was in the hunt for a Matchplay debut but would need the title to continue an impressive debut year.
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He beat Devon Petersen to get the ball rolling in the first round before a destruction of two-time PDC world champion Adrian Lewis on Saturday to reach Finals Day where Ron Meulenkamp, the in-form Ian White and Simon Whitlock were all sent packing to set up his date with Bunting.
"It's an amazing feeling to win my first title, I've worked so hard for this moment," said the 33-year-old.
"I've been playing well for a while now, better than I played this weekend strangely enough, and now I've finally got the results to show for it.
"To make the World Matchplay so soon is fantastic for me and now I can't wait to show the world what I'm about on one of the biggest stages in world darts."
After a edgy start from both men, Bunting, also in his maiden European Tour final, moved 3-1 in front but a clinical 83 checkout saw Hughes take the lead for the first time at 4-3. He backed it up in the following leg with a brilliant 120 finish to move with three legs of the title.
From there, it was Hughes' turn to punish Bunting's missed darts at double as he rattled off the final three legs to become the fifth different winner on the 2019 European Tour and seal the £25,000 top prize.
2019 PDC European Tour
|European Darts Open||Michael van Gerwen||8-6||Rob Cross|
|German Darts Championship||Daryl Gurney||8-6||Ricky Evans|
|German Darts Grand Prix||Michael van Gerwen||8-3||Simon Whitlock|
|German Darts Open||Michael van Gerwen||8-3||Ian White|
|Austrian Darts Open||Michael van Gerwen||8-7||Ian White|
|European Darts Grand Prix||Ian White||8-7||Peter Wright|
|Dutch Darts Masters||Ian White||8-7||Michael van Gerwen|
|Danish Darts Open||Dave Chisnall||8-3||Chris Dobey|
|Czech Darts Open||Jamie Hughes||8-3||Stephen Bunting|
A winner of two ProTour events in 2014 and 2016, Bunting came close to his first PDC stage title having claimed impressive victories over Peter Wright and Daryl Gurney on his way to the final.
"I am proud of my achievements this weekend, even winning just one game I would've taken positives from," said Bunting.
"It shows progress that I've reached my first European Tour final, hopefully it will be the first of many, and I can take my good form into the upcoming TV events."
As for the Matchplay spots. Kyle Anderson, Vincent van der Voort and James Wilson held the places before this weekend and only one kept his place.
Keegan Brown's first-round victory over Ondrej Plsek did for Anderson, who had failed to qualify for Prague and The Needle's run to the semi-final coupled with Hughes subsequent title meant Wilson missed out by £250.
Brown and Hughes took significant strides up the Pro Tour qualification race and it meant Dutchman Van der Voort, who was assured of his place after Sunday's early results, took the final spot.
Searing temperatures in Prague made for a tough weekend's work and at one stage Mervyn King had to be treated by medical staff having complained of feeling faint.
At Prague airport homeward bound after a fantastic weekend of darts at the PDC Czech Darts Open. Great win for Jamie Hughes over Stephen Bunting, in what had to be the hottest stage I have ever called on,,reaching 65 degrees😁😅Great 9 darter from The Iceman on Sat..👍👍😀😀— Russ Bray (@Russ180) July 1, 2019
Two-time Euro Tour title winner White fell at the quarter-final hurdle to Hughes, while world no 1 Michael van Gerwen was beaten by Brown on Saturday night as his quest for a fourth Euro title of the year fell short.
You don't have to wait long until darts is back on Sky Sports, with every dart from every session in Blackpool and the World Matchplay. It starts on Saturday July 20 and the final is on Sunday July 28.