Players forced to drop out as Storm Emma ravages UK Open field
The UK Open - or any other PDC major - has never known chaos like it.
Storm Emma has been wreaking havoc in the past few days, with heavy snowfall causing major traffic disruptions. The Met Office has issued a red weather warning in Wales and the south-west of England. Snowfall has already claimed one darting casualty, with the Premier League night in Exeter called off. With the UK Open held at the nearby Butlin's Minehead, it is also at risk. The 'FA Cup of Darts' is scheduled to go ahead as planned. But, on a day of unprecedented transport-related drama, a host of names have dropped out of the tournament.
Irish pair Mick McGowan and William O'Connor have both confirmed that they are unable to travel to Minehead. That means Dirk van Duijvenbode and Andy Hamilton have been handed byes to the second round. Scottish participants have also felt the pinch. John Goldie has dropped out, meaning Darren Brown or Paul Hogan will progress straight to the third round. Riley's winners Andrew Davidson and Scott Robertson, the Greenock and Aberdeen champions respectively, will not make the journey south. Michael Burgoine and Michael Barnard are the players who benefit.
It is still unclear how many players will drop out before play begins.
The Germanic portion of the field has also taken a major hit. Austria's Maik Langendorf misses out, handing a second round bye to Simon Tate or compatriot Michael Rasztovits. But Rasztovits will have to make do without his luggage, which failed to join him in England. Dave Chisnall has handed the 34-year-old a spare set. Rene Berndt is a unique dropout. The German withdraws due to health issues, rather than as a result of the storm. That gives Robert Rickwood immediate passage to the second round.
Two of the top 32 will miss the tournament, meaning two byes will be handed out in the third round draw. Zoran Lerchbacher, finalist at UK Open Qualifying 3, is unable to make it to Minehead. Martin Schindler also drops out, leaving Rene Eidams and Gabriel Clemens as the last Germans standing. Yet more players have been delayed by traffic, including Jeffrey de Zwaan and Cristo Reyes. But, despite reports he would not make it to Butlin's, James Wilson has arrived safely. The stars of the Premier League, who arrived early in order to compete in Exeter, will all make it to the tournament.
Play starts at 12pm on Friday, with Terry Jenkins and Paul Nicholson kicking things off on the main stage.