Irishman Steve Lennon stole the show Friday afternoon at the SACHSENarena in Riesa, averaging just under 100 in a 6-2 win over Simon Stevenson, in the first round of the HappyBet International Darts Open.
“I’m relieved to win,” Lennon told Love The Darts after the match. “It’s my fourth time on the European Tour this year and it’s a relief (to win).”
The victory follows on the back of a successful debut season on the PDC circuit for Lennon, who stands in the race to qualify for the World Championship.
“My original goal for the year was to qualify for the UK Open, the Players Championships, and a few Euro Tours,” Lennon said. “But it’s gone a lot better than expected. I didn’t think I’d be in the race for Ally Pally.”
Seven other players joined Lennon with wins during the first session of play.
In the first match on Friday, Brendan Dolan whitewashed an out-of-sync Andy Hamilton. Dolan was clinical if not spectacular, hitting half his darts at double.
Meanwhile, Hamilton only had darts at double in two legs, and kept changing his speed of play to play to no avail.
Darren Webster also kept his hot run of form going, beating Luke Woodhouse 6-4 while averaging over 95. Webster kept his cool under pressure, and took out the last three legs, including a 138 out to level in the eighth leg.
Christian Kist was also a winner, as he overcame a slow start to beat Justin Pipe in a last-leg decider.
Kist was averaging 65 through the first two legs, but came back from two breaks of throw down to win.
Pipe had checkouts of 150 and 164, and wired double 7 for a 122. But his game deserted him late, and Kist punished with a 15-dart hold in the final leg.
Later, Chris Quantock put in one of his best performances on the European Tour stage, as he dispatched of host nation qualifier Dragutin Horvat 6-3.
Quantock was 60 per cent on the doubles, and very well could have won 6-1 had Horvat not taken out a 164 outshot—which alongside Justin Pipe was the highest outshot of the session—to stay alive in the seventh leg.
Willie O’Connor joined compatriot Steve Lennon in the second round, beating Dimitri van den Bergh 6-4.
Van den Bergh missed 13 darts at double, including two in the final leg, as O’Connor got the victory despite the lower average.
Mick McGowan could not make it a trio of Irishman into Saturday’s play, as Ron Meulenkamp won his first match on the European Tour this year, 6-1.
Both players struggled to put in big scores, but Meulenkamp created more opportunities in the entire match. He took out ton-plus shots in the first leg, and never let McGowan back in.
In the final match of the afternoon, Josh Payne defeated Germany’s Bernd Roith 6-4.
Roith battled back from 4-2 down to level at 4-4, but Payne took out legs of 14 and 16 to see himself over the line.
Picture: PDC Europe