THE Rileys Darts Zones UK Open begins on Thursday night, as amateur stars from around the country get their chance to take on the sport’s top names at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton.

The four-day tournament, screened live on Sky Sports HD, pits the leading 96 professional players against 42 amateur qualifiers, with play in the unique event being held on eight stages simultaneously in the early rounds.

While the likes of reigning champion Phil Taylor, James Wade, Simon Whitlock and Mervyn King enter in the third round, Thursday’s opening rounds see unknown amateurs pitted against nervous professionals at the Reebok Stadium.

The £200,000 event will kick off when Gary Mawson, the American who reached the UK Open final two years ago, takes on 26-year-old Ashley Whisker, a tractor driver from Essex who won through the Rileys Amateur Qualifiers to earn a spot in Bolton.

“I don’t know anything about him other than that he’s a friend of Steve Maish’s from Essex,” admitted Mawson, a fans favourite at the Reebok Stadium whose parents hail from Bolton.

“He’s obviously a good young player to have qualified but it doesn’t matter. It’s all about me and what I do when we get on stage.

“It’s a venue I love and one where I had success a couple of years ago, and I’m really looking forward to it.”

The preliminary round also features former World Championship quarter-finalist Darren Webster up against Birmingham-based Andy Hutchings, a HGV driver for Royal Mail nicknamed “The Postman”.

Germany’s Jyhan Artut, who knocked Wayne Mardle out of the Ladbrokes.com World Darts Championship in December, takes on Coventry’s Kevin Dowling and Gibraltar’s Dylan Duo faces Dean Stewart, one of 32 the Rileys Amateur Qualifiers who won through knockouts held in Rileys Darts Zones across the UK.

The first round matches include former World Champion Richie Burnett up against Chorley’s Louis Blundell, a Las Vegas Desert Classic qualifier last year, while 20-year-old Joe Cullen takes on Lancashire’s Darren Latham.

Coventry-based muffin baker Steve Hine faces Ian Gleeson, one of ten BDO County Qualifiers for the event, while Irish debutant William O’Connor faces Rileys Qualifier Stuart Monaghan, a part-time rugby league referee who also competed in Bolton last year.

Thursday night also sees several top names enter at the second round stage, including Peter Manley, Wayne Mardle, Steve Beaton and Robert Thornton.

Manley, who was sidelined for a month earlier this year with a heart problem, takes on St Helens teenager Michael Smith, while Mardle faces Ireland’s Mick McGowan on the main stage in his first televised appearance since his World Championship loss to Artut, who was at the time a debutant qualifier.

Beaton drew either Noel Grant or Ricky Evans, a pair of Rileys Qualifiers who meet in round one, while Thornton is up against Mark Wilson or Paul Gibbs.

Former World Championship finalist Kirk Shepherd faces Adrian Gray on the main stage, while highly-rated youngster Arron Monk joins father Colin in the field, with the 20-year-old facing Stourbridge’s Nick Fullwell.

Alex Roy, twice a quarter-finalist in the Bolton event, takes on Yorkshire’s Mark Lawrence, who made it through to the last eight a year ago before losing to Phil Taylor.

Former UK Open champion Roland Scholten, who picked up the title in 2004, takes on the winner of the first round clash between Rileys Qualifiers Bradley Williams and Joe Palmer.

The 32 second round winners will go into the draw for the third round at the end of Thursday’s play, with reigning UK Open champion Phil Taylor, 2008 winner James Wade amongst the 32 players entering at the last 64 stage.

Australia’s Simon Whitlock, the World Championship runner-up, Scottish ace Gary Anderson and Premier League Darts stars Mervyn King, Adrian Lewis, Terry Jenkins and Ronnie Baxter also come into the event in round three.

Play will progress through the last 32 and last 16 on Saturday before Sunday sees the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final spread across two sessions at the Reebok Stadium, with the eventual champion taking home £40,000.

Tickets for the Rileys Darts Zoens UK Open are still available by calling 0844 871 2932 or by visiting the Reebok Stadium Box Office.

The Rileys Darts Zones UK Open is live on Sky Sports in High Definition, with coverage also available for users outside of the UK & Ireland via www.pdc.tv.

Rileys Darts Zones UK Open
Schedule of Play
Thursday June 3
7pm-11pm

Main Stage
Preliminary Round
Ashley Whisker v Gary Mawson
First Round
Louis Blundell v Richie Burnett
Darren Latham v Joe Cullen
Steve Hine v Ian Gleeson
Stuart Monaghan v William O’Connor
Second Round
Kirk Shepherd v Adrian Gray
Wayne Mardle v Mick McGowan
Nick Fullwell v Arron Monk
Hudson/Neate/Dave Smith v Paul Nicholson

Board Two
Preliminary Round
Andy Hutchings v Darren Webster
First Round
John Quantock v Matt Padgett
Chris Loudon v Paul Whitworth
Hudson/Neate v Dave Smith
Riihonen/Farmer v Dean Edlin
Second Round
Alex Roy v Mark Lawrence
Kevin McDine v Harrison/Green
Grant/R Evans v Steve Beaton
Monaghan/O’Connor v Mark Frost

Board Three
Preliminary Round
Kevin Dowling v Jyhan Artut
Dean Stewart v Dylan Duo
First Round
Darren Sullivan v Tony Hutchinson
Sam Allen v Melvyn Johnston
Bradley Williams v Joe Palmer
Ryan Murray v Lowe/J Clark
Second Round
Justin Pipe v Chris Thompson
Newland/Robertson v Dennis Smith
Eastwood/Martin v Whisker/Mawson/Stewart/Duo
Harris/Hutchings/D Webster v Andy Smith

Board Four
Preliminary Round
Prakash Jiwa v John Lakeman
First Round
Robbie Newland v John Robertson
Mark Wilson v Paul Gibbs
Dean Harris v Hutchings/D Webster
Dowling/Artut v A Murray/Rand
Second Round
Colin Monk v Darren Johnson
Mark Cox v Hammond/O’Neill
Blundell/Burnett v Pinhorne/Robinson/Ringland
R Murray/Lowe/J Clark v Quantock/Padgett

Board Five
Preliminary Round
Andy Murray v Scott Rand
Par Riihonen v Steve Farmer
First Round
Gary Eastwood v David Martin
Michael Hammond v Henry O’Neill
Dave Honey v Mike Nott
Jay Foreman v Barrie Knight
Second Round
Wayne Atwood v Steve Brown
S Jones/Bowles v Michael Barnard
Draper/M Harris v Bache/Turner
Murphy/Warwick v Riihonen/Farmer/Edlin

Board Six
Preliminary Round
Kevin Lowe v Jason Clark
First Round
Alex Harrison v Jamie Green
Noel Grant v Ricky Evans
Henry Murphy v Paul Warwick
Simon Cunningham v Jiwa/Lakeman
Second Round
Robert Thornton v Wilson/Gibbs
Michael Smith v Peter Manley
Hine/Gleeson v Allen/Johnston
Broughton/Stephenson v Dowling/Artut/A Murray/Rand

Board Seven
Preliminary Round
Reece Robinson v Hugh Ringland
First Round
Matt Draper v Mark Harris
Paul Rowley v Anton Liscsey
Nicky Bache v Martyn Turner
Whisker/Mawson v Stewart/Duo
Second Round
Fisher/Webb v Chris Mason
Sullivan/Hutchinson v Steve Evans
Honey/Nott v Latham/Cullen
Williams/Palmer v Roland Scholten

Board Eight
Preliminary Round
Peter Hudson v Paul Neate
First Round
Tony Broughton v Mark Stephenson
Pete Fisher v Barrie Webb
Simon Jones v John Bowles
Danny Pinhorne v Robinson/Ringland
Second Round
Tony Ayres v Loudon/Whitworth
Rowley/Liscsey v Barrie Bates
Stephen Hardy v Foreman/Wright
Stuart Dutton v Cunningham/Jiwa/Lakeman

Friday June 4
7pm-11pm

Round Three (last 64)
Best of 17 legs

Saturday June 5
1pm-5pm

Round Four (last 32)
Best of 17 legs

7pm-11pm
Round Five (last 16)
Best of 17 legs

Sunday June 6
1pm-5pm

Quarter-Finals
Best of 19 legs

7pm-11pm
Semi-Finals
Best of 19 legs

Followed by
Final
Best of 21 legs

From the end of Round Two onwards on Thursday evening, a free draw will be made for subsequent rounds, with no seeding in operation.

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