PDC UK Open
The UK Open is a unique darts tournament that in many ways harks back to the old News Of The World Championship. Several regional heats and amateur qualifiers are held around the UK giving just about anybody who can pick up a dart the chance of winning through to the TV finals. The finals are held over four days n June.
The field of 96 players from a UK Open Order of Merit determined following 8 qualifying events will be joined by 32 Rileys Qualifiers and 32 Speedy Hire Qualifiers to battle it out in what has become known as 'The FA Cup of Darts'. This name comes from the fact that an open draw is made after every round and no seeding is used. This means anybody can draw anybody...and they often do. The tournament is always full of shocks and often there are high profile clashes in the very early stages.
Since 2003 the tournament has been held at The Reebok Stadium and has been aired on Sky TV. Sky Bet were the sponsors for the first year. Budweiser took over for 2004 to 2006, and Blue Square sponsored it from 2007 to 2010. the latest title sponsors for 2011 are Speedy Hire.
It was the first major title for Raymond van Barneveld in 2006 after switching to the PDC and he successfully defended it a year later in 2007. To highlight the nature of the tournament, where shocks are commonplace, Phil Taylor only own it twice in the first six years- 2003 and 2005. However, he has hit four 9-dart finishes in the tournament (in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008) and has lifted the title twice more in 2009 and 2010.
Prize money has risen from £124,000 (£30,000 to the winner) in 2003 to £200,000 (£40,000 to the winner) in 2011.