After six gruelling qualifiers, the identity of the 96 professionals who will enter the 2018 UK Open are known.

More than 150 Tour Card holders and PDPA Associate Members met in Wigan for the UK Open tournaments. Top of the pile was Michael van Gerwen. The winner of UKOQ 1&2 skipped the last three events, but still topped the Order of Merit. Michael Smith, the UKOQ 3 champion, earned £19,500 and finished second. The third seed is one of 21 players who qualified despite not holding a Tour Card. Krzysztof Ratajski won the final qualifying event, and earned more than the world numbers two to four – Peter Wright, Rob Cross and Gary Anderson. Corey Cadby also finished ahead of the trio. Kyle Anderson took the 32nd and final spot which guaranteed a bye to the third round. Gerwyn Price narrowly missed out. He will be joined in round two by Ted Evetts. The youngster beat Michael Rasztovits in a play-off to finish 64th in the Order of Merit.

There was an almighty scramble for the final places in the top 96. 12 players finished dead level, but only seven turned up for a decisive play-off. Adam Hunt and George Killington were the leaders of the pack in the end. They will join the rest in a trip to Minehead in March. 53 Tour Card holders will not be in Minehead. Among them are Jan Dekker, Diogo Portela and Ronny Huybrechts. Christian Kist, Devon Petersen and Kevin Painter failed to win any money across six events. Danny Noppert was in the firing line, but a superb UKOQ 6 performance fired him up to 41st.

Wright goes to Butlin’s as the defending champion. Snakebite defeated Price in last year’s final.

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Author: Edward McCosh