World number four Simon Whitlock has vowed to right the wrongs of 12 months ago as he prepares to return to Wolverhampton for the Grand Slam of Darts.

Mark Webster Simon WhitlockDespite winning two of his three group matches in 2012, Australian Whitlock – who is sponsored by Leyland Paints – exited the tournament at the round-robin stage after a 5-1 defeat to Dean Winstanley in his final game saw him eliminated on leg difference.

‘The Wizard’ returns to one of the showpiece events on the darting calendar, open to the elite stars from the PDC and BDO, in confident mood and determined to learn the lessons of that Winstanley setback.

“Last year was hugely disappointed but taught me a lesson that, even if you win your first two matches, you can take nothing for granted in terms of qualifying,” said the 43-year-old, who is now based in Waterlooville.

“Every leg is absolutely vital to your hopes of qualifying and I’m determined not to make the same mistakes as last year.

“It’s a fantastic tournament and always a brilliant atmosphere in Wolverhampton so I’m determined to have a good run.”

Whitlock has been drawn in group G alongside Wes Newton, Ross Smith and his fellow Leyland Paints ambassador Mark Webster.

“Every group looks a tough one and mine is no different,” added the 2012 European Champion.

“I’m going to go all out to win all three matches and then there is no danger of leg difference going against me.

Whitlock, who reached the quarter-finals of last week’s Masters tournaments, is in action during the opening session of the tournament on Saturday afternoon when he takes on Smith.

Former world darts champion Mark Webster will be hoping to relive his 2008 win over Simon Whitlock after the two were paired together in the same group for the Grand Slam of Darts event in Wolverhampton.

Both are sponsored by Leyland Paints, so the match between the Welsh left-hander and the Australian, should prove to be a colourful affair.

Since the pair met in the BDO world final five years ago, Webster hasn’t enjoyed much success against ‘The Wizard’, but he’s hoping to put that right in the fast-paced early format of the group stages of the Grand Slam.

Webster also faces world number eight, Wes Newton, and the upcoming talent of Challenge Tour Order of Merit winner, Ross Smith.

“It was always going to be a tough draw for me, but I’m looking forward to it and playing in what is always a great atmosphere,” said Denbigh-based Webster.

“The group stage matches are the first to five legs and can be over very quickly, so if I’ll be looking to make a fast start in each game.

“All the pressure will be on Simon and Wes as they are the seeded players in my group, but there will be some shocks in the groups and I hope to produce at least one of them.

“My game is improving slowly on the practice board and I know one good tournament could change everything for me and if I make positive progress in the Grand Slam it could help me climb the rankings in 2014.

“First of all I must beat Simon for the first time while we’ve both been in the PDC and that will be a tough challenge.”

The first match for Webster will be against Wes Newton on Saturday afternoon, November 9th, before returning to the oche to complete his group games on Sunday afternoon and Monday night.

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