The UK Open 2024 - Spring in Exmoor 1

Spring in Exmoor - that's time for the UK Open. It looks like it rained a lot here - puddles everywhere and the parking lot is flooded. A lot of building and renovating is going on in Butlin's - till the summer season a new playground with a lot of attractionas is constructed. The press room was in a construction trailer and first had to be found. The weather is very mixed on this first day - one minute it is raining cats and dogs the next the sky is bright blue and the sun is shining. But at least it is not cold and everywhere the first flowers are blooming.

The afternoon-session in which the first three tournament rounds took place, already started at 11 a.m. which meant I had rather hectic morning but the tournament itself was not as hectic as usually and I even managed to watch a few matches a little bit longer.

This year among the participants more than thirty debutants can be found - among them with Tim Wolters, Dominik Gruellich, Paul Krohne and Christopher Toonders four Germans, and all began the tournament in the first round. So I could watch three German players playing their matches side beside in the first round and even four in the third round. And even some progressed into the fourth round on Friday evening though only one among them had started in the tournament first round - the so far more or less unknown Tim Wolters - to be sure a big success for the debutant. All in all only five new Tour Card holders were still in the tournament on Friday night - beside Wolters Joshua Richardson, Patrick Geeraets, Danny Lauby, Benjamin Drue-Reus and Brett Claydon. From the amateur qualifiers only Leonard Gates was still in the event - though I wouldn't call Gates a debutant - and from all the Challenge Tour and Development Tour Qualifiers only former BDO World Champion Scott Mitchell made it into the fourth round. Not many compared to other UK Open tournaments !

After the break the evening session started and and it was more crowded than in the afternoon. By now most people had unpacked their costumes.

I first first pushed my way through to the boards 3 to 8 and watched some surprise results - Ryan Searle lost a close match to Graham Usher but seemed to laugh it away. German Florian Hempel despaired fo him and of his opponent Gian van Veen and lost to the young Dutchman. Raymond van Barneveld failed because of Luke Woodhouse. Peter Wright - who seems to get back in form -had no problems to get rid of Joshua Richardson. Scott Williams had no chance against Ricky Evans - a little upset as well but one that delighted the crowd. With Brett Claydon another new Tour Card Holder was eliminated by Ryan Meikle from whom one didn't hear much recently.

As German Gabriel Clemens war next on on Board two I pushed my way back and through to the second stage. It looked good for Clemens when I arrived there, he was in front. But Danny Noppert didn't give in but moved into another gear. He started to score higher - when Clemens threw a 100 Noppert answered at least with a 120. Clemens was not able to keep up and Noppert won with 10:8. For the next match Michael Smith and Joe Cullen came on stage - with full Walk-on and cheered on by the crowd but I decided to move over to the main stage and watch the last leg of the Andrew Gilding v Josh Payne match. Gilding won the match.

Next on on the main stage was Mensur Suljovic against Michael van Gerwen and they played a rather poor first leg in which a 100 from van Gerwen was by far the highest score. As at that rate the match would take quaite a long time I thought I could have a look at the Tim Wolters v Jonny Clayton match first . It was a hard fought match which Jonny Clayton only just managed to win and to be sure it was a strong debut of German Tim Wolters. Now Benjamin Drue-Reus was the last new Tour Card holder and debutant left in the tournament..

It didn't look good for van Gerwen when I returned to the main stage. He seemed to have a lot of trouble with the shoulder of his throwing arm and already looked defeated which a little while later he really was and so one of the big favourites for the win was out of the tournament.
As well out of the tournament were with Daniel Klose and Ricardo Pietreczko two more German players - Pietrezcko was just not able to keep up with Mervyn King. The Australian clash was won by Damon Heta while Gary Anderson was the winner of the all Scottish match. Luke Littler eliminated James Wade - not really a surprise after all what we did see from him recently. A really upset was that German Martin Schindler elimnated Gerwyn Price - another big favourite to win the event.

When I left the venue after the draw for the fifth round it had started to rain and the Minehead roads were deserted.

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