Raymond van Barneveld began his quest for glory at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens with a convincing victory over Michael Smith.
The popular Dutchman coasted to a 10-4 triumph over the St Helens youngster to set up a tasty second round clash with Terry Jenkins, after the world number ten launched a remarkable comeback to beat Belgian ace Kim Huybrechts.
“Terry and I always have great battles so I am looking forward to playing him,” said van Barneveld, who is enjoying a rich vein of form.
“I won the European tournament in Dusseldorf two weeks ago and I won an event in the Shetlands last week, so I am really pleased with how I am playing.
“The belief is back now and I honestly believe I can win this.”
‘Barney’ will lock horns with ‘The Bull’ on Wednesday evening, as he bids to claim a quarter-final spot.
There was disappointment for Paul Nicholson however, ‘The Asset’ suffered an early exit at the hands of Andy Smith, while UK Open winner Robert Thornton was beaten by World Champion Adrian Lewis.
Tuesday evening sees 2007 winner James Wade return the venue where he has reached four finals.
‘The Machine’ takes on Richie Burnett before Simon Whitlock and Michael van Gerwen go head to head for a place in round two.
By Chris Murphy