INTERVIEW – Soutar on winning PDC Tour Card, turning down Gary Anderson’s backing and playing for Scotland
Soutar is a previous BDO/WDF winner, a former Lakeside qualifier and a proud Scot with over 50 caps for his country. He spoke to DartsNews.com after being part of a new batch of Tour Card holders.
“Still trying to get my head around it a little bit but I’ve had a busy few days since I got home so it’s kind of sinking in now,” said Soutar to DartsNews.com.
Heading to Q-School for the first time, it was pressure filled he admitted due to his previous success back home.
“It was a difficult one because there was a lot of expectation on me because I’ve never went before and I’ve been quite a successful player in Scotland.
“A lot of people expected me to do ok. So, I think when I went down there, I could feel the pressure of that.”
A lot was made for 2021 Q-School regarding the two stages but for Soutar, he was a fan of how it was ran and the split between the two.
“Obviously it’s this step up to the PDC but I found it quite comfortable. Not in a bragging way at all, I had a good draw first day, played really well.
"The actual main 128 Q-School was a lot harder. It was good the way it was split, I think that worked.”
It was a debut at Q-School for Soutar like alluded to which meant also dealing with bubble life for the first time. While some dislike this scenario, he believes it helps with concentration on the task at hand.
“It was very different. I’ve been away a lot playing darts and I’ve experienced darts for the last 30 years.
"Being isolated in your room, the Covid testing situation – even after qualifying for 1B, you still had to have another test. It lets you concentrate on darts and practice.”
Starting off in darts and playing for Scotland
Despite being known to those in the BDO/WDF scene and on a national level, Soutar was a potential unknown to those only watching PDC. He discussed his start in the game.
“I’ve played darts for a long time. My grandparents owned a pub in my local town so I’ve always been around the boozer playing darts. I’ve played a lot of league, superleague and county darts over a long period of time.
“There’s an awful lot of county players that are at a very high level that maybe just don’t have the inclination to go or the backing to go.
"Covid was the big thing for me that made me go to Q-School, apart from the backing of Big 5 management.”
Speaking of the national aspect of the game and representing his country, he described the feeling which is like no other.
“There’s nothing like it. I’ve played at Lakeside a few times and won WDF ranked events - but to walk out for your country, it’s not just playing darts for yourself, you know everyone into darts is watching willing to win.”
“It’s just the passion and what you feel when you represent your country is amazing.”
Previous offer of help from Anderson to join the tour
“Gary was actually in my home town of Arbroath for an exhibition. At the end of it, he got me on the stage,” he added.
“We’ve been aware of each other for quite a few years and he offered me the backing on the stage in front of the whole town. He put me on the spot a bit and said think about it and let me know.”
“Obviously I let him know saying no. I’m a full-time firefighter so I work shifts. I get time off but they’re not friendly for weekends.”
“It’s not the kind of job you can just come and go so that was the main reason I turned him down.
"If I’d been unemployed or maybe in a job that wasn’t paying as much, I would have probably thought about it back then.”
“I think I’ve learnt a lot more so I’m probably better set up now for a crack at the PDC proper on the ProTour.”
Balancing full time work with the PDC dream
Still working full time though, Soutar admitted it has already been difficult to find the time to continue his day job and still play every event – even before he toes the oche on Thursday.
“I think the blocks of ProTours are better than two weekends. But I’ve just had to get seven swaps for March.
“We will have to see, I’m back at work in between coming back from Bolton and going to the UK Open so then I have to sit down with my gaffers at work and see where we go.”
“It doesn’t lend itself to you keeping your job. I can’t give in my job because I haven’t earnt a single penny as a PDC player, so we need to see how we do.”
Ambitions going into debut season
So, what are his ambitions going into his debut season and even his opening events?
The overall goal for Soutar is to keep his card, but going short term into the Super Series, the potential repercussions for the UK Open are on his mind.
“The whole point of it is to keep the card. Paul (Brown, his manager) speaks to me all the time, the conversations we’ve had, he’s so confident I can get in there and get involved.
“He’s spoke about even this first Super Series getting some money on the board can jump you out of the first round of the UK Open so that’s maybe even a target.
"We will see how these four days go, you might get beat first round every day.”