Andy Jenkins qualified for the Speedy Services UK Open Finals, despite not competing on the professional circuit for four months through injury.
Jenkins accumulated enough ranking prize-money to seal a spot at next month’s tournament in Bolton, by picking up some crucial victories in the only two events he was able to enter.
‘Rocky,’ who reached the semi-finals in 2004, made the second round of qualifier seven in Birmingham on Saturday, before a run to the fourth round at the NIA community hall in Sunday’s qualifier eight was enough to clinch his place.
“I’m delighted to be playing in the UK Open,” said Jenkins, who claimed impressive wins over ex-Premier League players Jelle Klassen and Mark Dudbridge en route to booking his place in the finals.
“It seemed a long way away when I was injured and not playing. So to come in on the final weekend of qualifying is a very good achievement for me. I am looking forward to playing on the big stage again. It’s where we all want to be.”
James Hubbard also impressed at the weekend. The youngster prepared for his World Youth Final match against Michael van Gerwen next week with a brilliant run to his first professional quarter-final on Sunday.
He said: “Sunday helped me a lot. I played a lot of good darts and took out some good finishes under pressure.
“I am improving every week with these runs, and by playing on the youth tour. I am getting valuable experience for the final at 02.”
Hubbard sealed his last eight place in style, hitting a fabulous 157 checkout in the deciding leg of his game against Dennis Smith.
His success in Birmingham elevated the 19 year-old into the top 32 of the UK Open Order of Merit, meaning he bypasses the first two rounds in Bolton.
He added: “It means a lot. Not only to qualify, but to qualify as a seed and be through to the Friday is fantastic.
“My goal at the start of the year was to qualify for the UK Open, but to do it the way I did, by reaching a quarter-final on Sunday made it even better. I’m looking forward to the finals now.”
Hubbard will be joined in round three by van Gerwen, who won one of the qualifying events, and Raymond van Barneveld, who won two of the four that he entered.
Simon Whitlock, Vincent van der Voort and Robert Thornton will also enter the tournament on the second day of action.
Sixteen MODUS players have qualified for the televised event in total, including James Wade, Mark Webster and Paul Nicholson.
By Chris Murphy