THE Speedy Hire UK Open begins on Thursday, as 172 players compete over four days in the £200,000 multi-stage event in the Premier Suite at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium.

The event, renowned as ‘The FA Cup of Darts’ due to the open draw format which means top players can meet at any stage, will see a record field of players taking part this year.

The 108 professional qualifiers – headed by reigning UK Open champion Phil Taylor, recent Premier League Darts winner Gary Anderson and World Champion Adrian Lewis – are joined by 64 amateur qualifiers, who won through events held in Speedy Hire Superstores and Rileys Darts Zones around the UK in April.

Whilst the top 32 players enter at the Third Round stage on Friday night, Thursday’s opening night features 140 aces looking to join them by progressing to the last 64.

Thursday’s Preliminary, First and Second Round competitors, who will play over the cut-throat best-of-seven leg format, include 2008 champion James Wade, who will play Rileys Qualifier Davey Dodds, a gardener from Stanley in Co Durham in his opening game.

“I’ve had a good break since the end of the Premier League Darts season and am looking forward to trying my best to win a second UK Open,” said Wade, the world number four.

“I don’t know anything about Davey to be honest but he’s obviously a top-quality player to have qualified, so I’ll have to prepare right.

“I was pleased with my form at the end of the Premier League season and hopefully this will be the start of a successful summer.”

Dodds, 40, won a knockout at the Rileys Middlesbrough club to qualify to compete in the UK Open, and was actually watching Wade in action when the Premier League Darts was held in Newcastle three weeks ago on the same day as the UK Open draw was made.

“I was in the arena with a few friends and when the draw came up on the big screen, there was a big roar in our section,” said Dodds. “We had a laugh because he came out firing against Terry Jenkins, averaging about 120 in the first four or five legs.

“But that was a different day. I’ve played darts for a long time and it won’t faze me much.

“I’m a pretty confident player and obviously everybody is looking for a good run. I know it’s not easy but I’ll just see how I go against James and see what happens.”

The night also features 2004 UK Open champion Roland Scholten, who plays Essex-based qualifier Kevin Edwards, while three-time World Championship finalist and former world number one Peter Manley takes on Widnes’ John Bowles, who also competed 12 months ago in the UK Open.

“I really enjoyed it last year and I’m looking forward to getting on stage against Peter,” said Bowles, who won the Rileys Bolton Qualifiers and is a former Widnes rugby league player.

“I’ve played alongside some big names before and I’ve got the experience behind me too from last year, when I beat Simon Jones and was then three-all with Michael Barnard before he hit a 161 finish to turn the match.”

Wayne Mardle is in action against Darrin Pugh, a Speedy Hire Qualifier from Oldbury in the West Midlands making his debut in a major darts event.

Colin Lloyd, another former world number one and World Matchplay winner, meets Dutch star Jelle Klaasen in arguably the tie of the first round – with the winner to then play either quick-fire Steve Hine or Under-21 World Champion Arron Monk in the Second Round later on Thursday night.

The night also features one player thankful to be fit to play in Bolton, Belgium’s Rocco Maes, who recently suffered head and leg injuries in a cycle accident but has recovered to face Speedy Qualifier Colin Appleton in the First Round.

Maes’ injury evoked memories of his fellow Belgian Erik Clarys, who shattered his right elbow when he fell from a ladder shortly before the 2006 UK Open and had 11 operations before being forced to retire from darts.

The draw for Friday’s Third Round will be made at the conclusion of Thursday’s play, as Taylor, Anderson and Lewis are joined by the other leading professionals in the top 32 of the UK Open Order of Merit, comprised of prize money won in eight Qualifiers.

The top 32 also includes two-time UK Open winner Raymond van Barneveld, former Bolton finalists John Part, Vincent van der Voort, Colin Osborne and Mark Walsh and two players who won their maiden professional titles in this year’s UK Open Qualifiers, Steve Brown and Michael Smith.

Tickets still remain for some sessions of the Speedy Hire UK Open, and can be purchased by calling 08448 712 932 or by visiting the Reebok Stadium Box Office.

The schedule of play for the Speedy Hire UK Open is:
Thursday June 2
Main Stage

First Round
Scott Rand v Steve Beaton
Mark Stephenson v Ben Burton
Darrin Pugh v Wayne Mardle
Brian Woods v Mark Hylton
Colin Lloyd v Jelle Klaasen
Peter Manley v John Bowles
Davey Dodds v James Wade
Devon Petersen v Stuart White

Second Round
Palfreyman/Henderson v Covill/Daniels
Mansell/Foster v Michels/Alcinas
O’Connor/Aubrey v Stewart/van Gerwen
Hudson/Evans v Caris/McDine

Board Two
First Round
Reece Robinson v Barrie Bates
Lee Palfreyman v John Henderson
Mensur Suljovic v Brandon Walsh
John MaGowan v Shaun Griffiths
Justin Pipe v Gary Welding
Kirk Shepherd v Paul Cartwright
Steve Grubb v Andy Beardmore
Roland Scholten v Kevin Edwards

Second Round
Whitworth/Simm v Woods/Hylton
Temple/Stompe v Jones/Jones
Turner/Little v Monk/Murray
Dolan/Gilding v Clark/Hagen

Board Three
Preliminary Round
John Donaldson v Dave Prins
Louis Blundell v Duncan Hastings

First Round
Alex Roy v John O’Shea
Robbie Green v Steve Clews
Colin Monk v Ryan Murray
James Richardson v Stuart Monaghan
John Kennedy v Steve Werrett
Peter Hudson v Steve Evans
Martin/Pearce v Matt Jackson
Andy Boulton v Jimmy Mann

Second Round
Hawken/O’Connor v Hill/O’Neill
Mucklow/M Padgett v McGowan/ Smith
Dodds/Wade v Jukes/Donaldson/Prins
Gleeson/Gordon v Jackson/Jones

Board Four
Preliminary Round
Peter White v Michael Rosenauer
Curtis Hammond v Bruce Harrison

First Round
Jamie Ellam v Ian Moss
Mick McGowan v Andy Smith
Steve Hine v Arron Monk
Ian Covill v Stuart Daniels
Rocco Maes v Colin Appleton
Steve Maish v Martin Perring
Jon Jukes v Donaldson/Prins
Blundell/Hastings v Atwood/Rose

Second Round
Kennedy/Werrett v Rand/Beaton
Green/Clews v Priestley/Lawrence/Ladley
Roy/O’Shea v Pipe/Welding
Robinson/Bates v Pugh/Mardle

Board Five
Preliminary Round
Mick Todd v Paul Harvey
Chris Thompson v Nigel Heydon

First Round
Michael Mansell v Gordon Foster
John Jackson v Mark Jones
Hammond/Harrison v Tony Eccles
Jason Crawley v Dan Butler
Craig Mucklow v Matt Padgett
Paul Whitworth v Richard North
White/Rosenauer v Jon Bott
Conan Whitehead v Charlie Cooper

Second Round
Richardson/Monaghan v Lovely/Barnard/Robinson
Keating/Douglas v Murnan/Sherwood
Stephenson/Burton v Maish/Perring
Scholten/Edwards v Smith/Fullwell/Broughton

Board Six
Preliminary Round
Mark Lawrence v Dave Ladley
Phil Daniels v Nicky Bache

First Round
Mareno Michels v Antonio Alcinas
Tony Ayres v Jyhan Artut
Stephen Hardy v Richie Howson
Danny Jones v Chris Jones
Joe Murnan v Damien Sherwood
John Keating v Steve Douglas
Todd/Harvey v Charlie Burns
Matthew Edgar v Thompson/Heydon

Second Round
Jordan/Hollis v Ellam/Moss
Whitworth/North v Crawley/Butler
White/Rosenauer/Bott v Boulton/Mann
Whitehead/Cooper v Blundell/Hastings/Atwood/Rose

Board Seven
Preliminary Round
Nick Fullwell v Tony Broughton
Eddie Lovely v Michael Barnard

First Round
Dean Stewart v Michael van Gerwen
Martyn Turner v Tommy Little
Matt Clark v Jamie Hagen
Darren Hawken v William O’Connor
Dennis Priestley v Lawrence/Ladley
Daniels/Bache v Peter Wright
Magnus Caris v Kevin McDine
Ian Gleeson v Kirk Gordon

Second Round
Ayres/Artut v Hardy/Howson
Maes/Appleton v Shepherd/Cartwright
Petersen/White v Manley/Bowles
Martin/Pearce/Jackson v Edgar/Thompson/Heydon

Board Eight
Preliminary Round
Wayne Atwood v Lee Rose
Eddy Martin v Andy Pearce

First Round
Geoff Whitworth v Kevin Simm
Terry Temple v Co Stompe
Lovely/Barnard v Jamie Robinson
Matthew Jordan v Graham Hollis
Shane O’Connor v Chris Aubrey
Sam Hill v Aodhagan O’Neill
Dennis Smith v Fullwell/Broughton
Brendan Dolan v Andrew Gilding

Second Round
Lloyd/Klaasen v Hine/Monk
Grubb/Beardmore v Daniels/Bache/Wright
MaGowan/Griffiths v Hammond/Harrison/Eccles
Suljovic/Walsh v Todd/Harvey/Burns

From the conclusion of the Second Round onwards an open draw will be made for the Third Round onwards.

Friday June 3
Tickets £30 – unreserved seating
Third Round – features players ranked 1-32 in UK Open Order of Merit plus 32 Second Round winners (eight boards)
Best of 17 legs

Saturday June 4
Tickets £20
Fourth Round – Last 32 (four boards)
Best of 17 legs

Tickets £30
Fifth Round – Last 16 (two boards)
Best of 17 legs

Sunday June 5
Tickets £25
Quarter-Finals (main stage)
Best of 19 legs

Tickets £30
Semi-Finals & Final (main stage)
Semi-Finals – Best of 19 legs
Final – Best of 21 legs

Source – PDC/Lawrence Lustig

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