Qualifier, Hughes, cruises to Czech Darts Open crown in Prague
Jamie Hughes, who had to come through a qualifying event held in Wigan ahead of the Czech Darts Open, clinched the inaugural crown in Prague following a 8-3 victory over Stephen Bunting in the final.
After a scintillating start to life on the full PDC circuit, Tipton’s Hughes lifted his maiden PDC title and his first title of any significance since his Challenge Tour triumph in September.
‘Yozza’, a two-time BDO World Championship semi-finalist and World Masters finalist, saw off Josh Payne and James Richardson to book his place in Prague. Hughes averaged a terrific 108.3 in beating Richardson 6-4 in Wigan.
33-year-old Hughes began his campaign with a 6-4 win over South Africa’s Devon Petersen, before whitewashing a below-par Adrian Lewis to reach the final day.
A 102.72 average and a finishing masterclass was enough to see off Ron Meulenkamp, while wins over number two seed, Ian White, and Simon Whitlock sealed the former Finder Darts Master’s place in the final.
Hughes would take on St Helens’ Stephen Bunting in the final, who – much-like the Tipton thrower – had embarked on a career-best European Tour pilgrimage.
Bunting, who reached his first PDC staged final since 2014’s Sydney Darts Masters, defeated Robert Thornton, Peter Wright, Chris Dobey and Daryl Gurney to seal his semi-final spot, where he denied Keegan Brown.
‘The Bullet’ opened up a 2-0 lead in the final, but Hughes landed eight of the next nine legs to seal his first PDC title in a country he reached the quarter-finals in during his BDO days.
It wasn’t just a maiden PDC title and £25,000 for ‘Yozza’, either. The Tipton ace needed to win the title to clinch a World Matchplay debut, and he did just that in a fairytale triumph. He’ll now be on the road to Blackpool at the end of July just six months after securing his PDC Tour Card.
Elsewhere, Michael van Gerwen’s hopes came to an end at the first hurdle as he lost to Keegan Brown for the second time on the European Tour this year, while host nation favourite, Karel Sedlacek was edged out by Ian White at the same stage.
Gerwyn Price was downed by Simon Whitlock in the third round, after hitting the first PDC nine-darter in the Czech Republic in a thrilling 6-4 win over Glen Durrant.
After its inaugural visit to the Czech Republic, the European Tour will now take a short break before returning on August 30 with the Austrian Darts Championship.