The Irish trio of Jason Cullen, Brendan Dolan and Steve Lennon all came through their opening round matches while James Wade sets up a second round encounter with Peter Wright at the Austria Darts Open in Graz.
Jason Cullen – who lost in the final of the Tom Kirby Irish Matchplay last year in Dublin – achieved his maiden European Tour victory just a few months after claiming his maiden PDC title at the fourth Challenge Tour event of the year. Cullen, 29, qualifier for the event in Barnsley due to having a good start to the Challenge Tour season.
‘The Whistler’ convincingly saw off PDC newby Tamas Alexits 6-1 in the opening round in Austria as he setup a second round encounter with Mervyn King. ‘The King’ reached the quarter-finals last weekend in Saarbrücken as he suffered a defeat to Michael Smith at that stage in the competition.
Arguably Ireland’s most inform player at the moment and a man who has a massive future in the game of darts, Steve Lennon. Lennon faced the only Rodriguez brother competing at this year’s Austrian Darts Open due to a sponsored event in the Philippines and gave him a whitewashing as he thrashed Roxy-James Rodriguez 6-0 in front of a nost nation crowd in Graz. Lennon will face Joe Cullen tomorrow afternoon – who has reached the the quarter-finals in all three of this year’s European Tour events.
Brendan Dolan – a former finalist on the European Tour – will take on Ian White tomorrow afternoon after a 6-4 victory over an inform Alan Tabern. Dolan averaged 92.88 and checkout out at a rate of 40% in a solid first round display.
James Wade setup a second round encounter with six-time European Tour winner Peter Wright after a stunning first round display in Graz. Wade averaged 97.09 and hit a 133 checkout on route to a 6-3 win over host-nation qualifier and former World Championship qualifier Hannes Schnier.
Dimitri Van den Bergh averaged a sublime 106.42 as he edged past Devon’s Simon Stevenson 6-4 in Austria. Van den Bergh was agonisingly close to completing perfection in the second leg in the tie. Despite hitting 80% of his darts at double and a 127 checkout in the tie, it wasn’t enough for Stevenson to progress to the second round as it will be the World Youth Champion who takes on Benito Van de Pas – who lost to the eventual winner Max Hopp last week in Saarbrücken.
Max Hopp survived match darts in a last leg decider against Stephen Burton as he eventually came out a 6-5 winner in the first round of the Austrian Darts Open. Fresh from his maiden PDC title last weekend, Hopp hit eleven 140s and a 101 checkout on route to setting up a second round matchup with ‘The Ferret’ Jonny Clayton tomorrow at the Steiermarkhalle.
Elsewhere on the opening day, Darius Labanauskas enjoyed his maiden victory on the European Tour as he saw off a tough opponent in Ritchie Edhouse – who took Adrian Lewis all the way a few weeks ago – to setup a Saturday evening clash with fan-favourite Mensur Suljovic in Austria. Scott Taylor, Wayne Jones and Cristo Reyes all successfully completed 6-1 victories to progress to the next round while Michael Barnard brought his Challenge Tour form to the big stage as he thrashed John Henderson in a solid performance form the 41-year-old.
2017 Development Tour winner Luke Humphries continued his good form in Europe with an average just below the 100 mark and a 6-2 win over Adrian Lewis World Championship conquerer Kevin Munch. Humphries hit six of his 13 attempts at the outer ring and fired in a 141 checkout on route to setting up a Saturday afternoon clash with Steve Beaton.
Adam Hunt enjoyed a last leg decider victory over Dunvegan Enterprises teammate Cameron Menzies while Ritchie Burnett and Steve West grabbed first round victories in Graz.
West will take on World Championship winner Rob Cross – who will still be searching for his maiden European Tour title since making his debut in Europe twelve months ago!
The Austrian Darts Open will continue tomorrow at 12pm and will be shown worldwide to all PDC TV subscribers.
2018 Austrian Darts Open
Friday April 20
Afternoon Session (1pm local time, 12pm BST)
Brendan Dolan 6-4 Alan Tabern
Michael Barnard 6-1 John Henderson
Ron Meulenkamp 6-3 Gabriel Clemens
Wayne Jones 6-1 Dietmar Burger
Scott Taylor 6-1 Simeon Heinz
Jason Cullen 6-1 Tamas Alexits
Darius Labanauskas 6-3 Ritchie Edhouse
Steve Lennon 6-0 Roxy-James Rodriguez
Evening Session (7.15pm local time, 6.15pm BST)
Luke Humphries 6-2 Kevin Munch
Steve West 6-3 Ronny Huybrechts
Richie Burnett 6-0 Alex Steinbauer
Adam Hunt 6-5 Cameron Menzies
James Wade 6-3 Hannes Schnier
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-4 Simon Stevenson
Max Hopp 6-5 Stephen Burton
Cristo Reyes 6-1 Bastian Pietschnig
First Round – Best of 11 legs