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Darren set off on a ferry at six in the morning to gain a place at the UK Open. Here is "Gooners" story of how he achieved his dream!

One player discusses his not so speedy route to Bolton

Posted: 28.05.11 in Tournament Analysis Blog category

Darren set off on a ferry at six in the morning to gain a place at the UK Open. Here is "Gooners" story of how he achieved his dream!

We welcome Darren Hawken to the Darts Performance Centre blog. Darren is one of the 32 grass roots players that managed to qualify via the Rileys tournaments, Darren won the event in Bournemouth, and will be at the Speedy Hire UK Open that starts in Bolton on Thursday. Darren explains how his dream has become a reality.

How I Qualified (or how not to do it in reality)

I entered two of the qualifiers last year and lost in the Semi-Finals both times and after spotting the Rileys advert on-line this year was determined to have another try. In the run up to the Qualifier this time around (I had decided to enter only once) my form dipped as the qualifier approached and I was really in two minds whether to go or not to Bournemouth. All week Tony Broughton had been on to me to go and Saturday morning at the unearthly hour of 6 am I left my house and met Tony in Cowes to catch the Red Jet. Also travelling to Bournemouth with us was Craig Brown who was also trying to qualify and his mum Paula tagged along for support.

We got to the venue with three hours to spare and I started my solo practice which helps me with my focus whilst Tony was practising and “chuntering” away to all that would listen, as always. The draw pitched me against Simon Whatley in the 1st Round with my travelling companion Craig Brown waiting the winner in Round Two.

Match 1 V Simon Whatley

I knew I had a tough 1st match as Simon has appeared on TV quite a few times and is a cracking player, but I still felt good and I know this sounds stupid but I just kept thinking that as long as I keep hitting the 140's then the Doubles will be the only thing stopping me.

I won the bull up against Simon and he promptly took out the 1st leg in 13 darts, but I was waiting on a double so I knew I was playing well too. The following leg I won easily against the throw and took the next two legs as well to win 3-1. I must have started virtually every leg with a 140, giving me confidence and also putting Simon hopefully under some pressure.

Match 2 V Craig Brown

This was definitely my toughest game of the day, as I knew in my heart I shouldn't lose to Craig unless he played a blinder and my focus wasn’t there. From 2-0 up I let Craig back in and thankfully I sneaked the last leg in 17 darts with Craig sitting there on around 60 to knock me out.

Match 3 V Nick Quinton

Beating Craig in the way I did really helped my focus and I relaxed for my next game against Nick Quinton, who I had been practising with earlier and again knew he was a good player. I beat Nick 3-0 without giving him a shot at a double and played my best game of the day, all around 15 darts per leg.

Match 4 V Tony Broughton

Played some mind games with Tony as he had decided to enter 4 Qualifiers and I told him he didn’t need to win today as he would win Brighton tomorrow, but he was having none of that!
Won the Bull up and took the 1st leg in 15 darts but then played a really scrappy leg and Tony nicked it. Won the 3rd really easily and gave up in the 4th mentally as Tony got off to a quick start and won in 12 darts.

Knew the 5th leg was with the throw and needed to play a solid leg under pressure. These plans were thrown into disarray when Tony started off with a 180, but I came back strongly and after Tony had missed his one dart at Tops, I stepped up and hit 60 in 2 Darts.  It was a great game between us and I must admit, my  focus was there for nearly the whole match.

Match  5  (The Final) V Ben Ward

The Final was against Ben Ward of Dorset, a young County player who I had never heard or seen before, which probably helped as often you get caught up with playing the player and losing focus on your game. I won the 1st leg of the Final in 15 darts and then Ben hit everything to lead 2-1.  I missed the bullseye hitting a 12 but recovered to make it 2-2 and Ben had 3 darts at 32 to beat me. Thankfully he missed and allowed me to take out 38 in 2 darts, on purpose going for single 10 and double 14.

I won the last leg easily as my confidence was up and as had happened all through the day I was hitting the double straight away.

Made It!

So, I had qualified for the UK Open at Bolton and bless Tony, I think he was more pleased than I was (Tony then went to Brighton and won that Venue to join me up at Bolton, just like I knew he would).

Hard to pinpoint what I have done differently today. Maybe playing Simon Whatley 1st round and beating him gave me the confidence and focus to win, certainly I was hitting a lot of 140's as well as Treble 19's and there were hardly any doubts through the day.

Part Two Tomorrow!

 The Darts Performance Centre is a resource that offers practical coaching, practice and sports psychology advice to dart players. Membership is £25.00 per annum


Author: Darren Hawken ( paul@dartsperformancecentre.com )

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