Baetens and Bennett Bag Tour Cards

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WDF World Champion Andy Baetens and Former BDO World Youth Champion Leighton Bennett picked up two-year PDC Tour Cards on Saturday, after coming through their respective Q School fields in the UK & Europe, on the penultimate day of the Final Stage in Milton Keynes and Kalkar, Germany.

Days One & Two of the Final Stage of Qualifying School saw Steve Lennon and Robert Grundy pick up Tour Cards in the UK, whilst Martijn Dragt and Jelle Klaasen achieved the same feat in Europe.

European Q School

Recently crowned WDF World Champion, Baetens, secured a two-year PDC Tour Card for the first time in his career, as he reached the final firstly by recording victories against Jeffrey De Graaf, Michel Unterbuchner, Born Van Put, Alexander Masek, Paul Krohne and Vitezslav Sedlak, to set up a clash with Poland’s Radek Szaganski.

The final began with Baetens racing into a 2-0 lead, with winning legs coming in 13 and 11 darts respectively, before Szaganski halved the deficit in Leg Three with a 15-dart break of throw. Baetens went on to win three of the following four legs, which saw him move 5-2 ahead and within one of victory.

However, multiple missed match darts from Baetens allowed Szaganski to pounce and in doing so, The Pole rattled off three consecutive legs to force an 11th and deciding leg. Eventually, Baetens sealed the victory with a 16 dart hold of throw and a 6-5 success to seal his place on the main PDC Tour for the first time.

Szaganski’s run to the final all but secures him a return to the PDC Tour having lost his professional status at the end of 2023, with the 44-year-old based in Cork, Ireland recording victories on the day against Marcel Junk, Benjamin Pratnemer, Thibault Tricole, Arno Merk, Patrick Geeraets and Haupai Puha, before being denied by Baetens.

UK Q School
2019 BDO World Youth Champion, Bennett, secured a two-year PDC Tour Card for the first time in his career, as the 18-year-old reached the final firstly by recording victories against Kamil Janowicz, Brandon Jones, Carl Wilson, Scott Winder, Brett Claydon and Kieran Bridgwater, to set up a clash with fellow compatriot, Thomas Cromwell.

The final began with back-to-back breaks of throw between the pair, before Bennett held throw for the first time in Leg Three with a 19-dart leg. Cromwell went on to win back-to-back legs in 18 and 14 darts respectively to move 3-2 ahead and halfway to victory, before Bennett rattled off four consecutive legs, which saw him seal the victory in Leg Nine with a 15 dart hold of throw and a 6-3 success to seal his place onto the main PDC Tour for the first time.

Cromwell’s run to the final saw the Englishman record victories on the day against Shaun Wilkinson, Kevin Burness, Darren Beveridge, George Killington, Darren Webster and Rhys Griffin, before being denied by Bennett.

Despite defeat, Cromwell has put himself in pole position to secure a Tour Card for the first time as he sits 8th on the UK Order of Merit on 5 points with 10 spots available come the conclusion of Sunday’s Event.

PDC Qualifying School concludes on Sunday, in the UK and in Europe, with Day Four of the Final Stage with one automatic Tour Card up for grabs at each Q School, whilst the remaining Tour Cards will be rewarded via separate Order of Merit’s, as play commences at 13:00 CET in Europe and 12:00 GMT in the UK.

All live scores and results can be viewed at tv.dartconnect.com

UK Qualifying School Final Stage

Day Three – Saturday 13th January
Quarter Finals
Kieran 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 Kieran Bridgwater
Thomas Cromwell 6-4 Rhys Griffin

Final
Leighton Bennett 6-3 Thomas Cromwell

European Qualifying School Final Stage

Day Three
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

—–Ends—–

Images: WDF/ Chris Sargeant

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