A weekend in Gibraltar and Robert Thornton’s hopes of remaining on the circuit
“After all I’ve been through in the last 18 months, winning that was a piece of cake,” laughed a 250/1 outsider in Robert Thornton after defeating the legendary Phil Taylor in the 2012 UK Open final.
A blistering 121 checkout handed Thornton the title, sending the Bolton crowd into hysterics. The Scotsman, who was notably crowned the World Masters champion a mere five years prior, endured a number of rough hinderances in the run-up to his UK Open success.
Thornton brushed aside a string of big-name opponents after fighting pneumonia and a broken hand before heading to Bolton’s Reebok Stadium.
‘The Thorn’ reached a PDC peak of world number five, became the World Grand Prix champion and indisputably won both his PDC majors the hard way – defeating the world number one in both finals.
Nowadays it’s a conflicting approach for Thornton. When heading to Dublin for the World Grand Prix in 2015, the victorious Scotsman was the world number seven, however, he now he stands in 51st in the world, and a contender to lose his tour card come the turn of the year.
He’ll travel to Gibraltar this weekend for the seventh showing of the Gibraltar Darts Trophy – a tournament the 52-year-old has five times featured in – four of which being seeded.
Being seeded for the necessary European Tour events is not something that even crosses the mind of Thornton at this present moment, though, qualifying for the necessary European Tour events is.
The Ayrshire’s thrower failed to qualify for the World Grand Prix, and if the results are unsuccessful in improving, he could be absent from the World Darts Championship, European Championship and Players Championship Finals also.
He’s currently outside the Players Championship top 64, meaning he’s provisionally not in Minehead. He’s currently outside the ProTour top 16, meaning he’s provisionally not at Alexandra Palace. He’s currently outside the European Tour top 32, meaning he’s provisionally not in Gottingen.
If he performs well this weekend and undergoes a valiant run, Thornton’s hopes of remaining on the circuit will seem a lot more promising.
A Gibraltar Darts Trophy final is what’s necessary for the Scotsman if he is to qualify for the European Championship, and although that seems unlikely, he can mount a serious attack on appearing at the World Darts Championship, and that commences in Gibraltar.
Photography: Stefan Strassenburg/PDC Europe