Lisa Ashton and Mikuru Suzuki handed BDO places at Grand Slam of Darts
Three-time BDO world champion Glen Durrant also confirmed as a BDO representative
By Paul Prenderville
Last Updated: 17/10/19 11:26am
Lisa Ashton and women's world champion Mikuru Suzuki are among the eight BDO names that will feature at the Grand Slam of Darts next month but there is no place for 13-year-old Leighton Bennett.
Speculation has been rife about who will feature for the BDO at the annual tournament that features the best of the organisation alongside 24 PDC professionals.
The inclusion of Suzuki and Ashton is the headline-setter after the BDO confirmed their representatives but the absence of teenage BDO world youth champion Bennett, who had been under serious consideration given his form, will be a disappointment to many.
Sixteen-time World Champion Phil Taylor was among the names calling for his inclusion but ultimately the player's age and the safeguarding issues surrounding him as a child in an adult sporting environment has meant he will not feature this year.
"On balance, we felt it was [too early for him] and that was a unanimous view of everybody who was involved in that conversation - all the people that were around Leighton and everything like that," Matt Porter, chief executive of the PDC, told The Darts Show podcast.
Ashton and Suzuki will be among the names that chase one of two female qualification places for this year's PDC World Championship and both will be at the Grand Slam after the eight names were ratified by the PDC.
Japanese sensation Suzuki has enjoyed a stellar year having won her first world title at Lakeside with a win over Lorraine Winstanley while Ashton made her debut at Alexandra Palace last year, taking a set off Jan Dekker before ultimately falling to a 3-1 defeat in the first round.
"We were pleased to go along with the BDO's suggestion that their top two female players - Lisa Ashton, who we've seen play at Alexandra Palace, and Mikuru Suzuki - will play," added Porter on The Darts Show podcast.
"We were happy to see those two included as well along with the top five players from their rankings. So, it's a strong BDO line-up and I'm sure that there could be some shocks out there."
🎯 "Ashton & Suzuki will entertain." 🎯— Sky Sports Darts (@SkySportsDarts) October 17, 2019
🎙️ @MattPorter_PDC says that people won't want to face @BDOdarts duo @LisaAshton180 & @MIKL396 at the Grand Slam...
Listen to the podcast here 👉 https://t.co/f28Ll9lNgW
The criteria over how those eight names are selected had been unclear amid a year of uncertainty in the BDO.
A new chairman in Des Jacklin has been announced, the reigning BDO world champion Glen Durrant won his PDC Tour card at Q-School in January and the venue for its World Championships has been switched from the legendary Lakeside in Frimley Green.
Alongside four provisional qualifiers from their rankings, the BDO is believed to be using wildcards which is how Sky Sports understands Ashton and Suzuki have been picked.
Three-time BDO world champion Durrant was confirmed as a BDO representative alongside Wesley Harms and Jim Williams. Richard Veenstra, Dave Parletti and Wayne Warren will all make their Grand Slam debuts next month.
'Boom Boom' Bennett is the talk of world darts and claimed the BDO's World Youth Championship in January. He has been competing regularly on the circuit this year securing a debut at the senior World Championships and his absence will be a disappointment to many who were hoping to see him compete.
The 24-player PDC line-up will be finalised next month when the 16 automatic qualifiers will secure their place, the European Championship and the World Series Finals offer players a further chance, while a final qualification tournament will offer the final eight places.
Eight of the world's top 10 players have already secured their place, headlined by defending champion Gerwyn Price, world champion Michael van Gerwen and World Matchplay winner Rob Cross.
Coverage of the Grand Slam of Darts from Aldersley Leisure Village in Wolverhampton gets underway on Saturday November 9 and continues through to the final on Sunday November 17.