Cirencester darts ace bows out of UK Open after brave fightback
CIRENCESTER’S top darts player Paul Boulton put up a brave fight before going out in the preliminary round of the Speedy Services UK Open to former World U21 champion Arron Monk on Thursday night.
Boulton, who came through a Cardiff qualifier, had been tipped by some experts to cause an early upset in this unique tournament where the world’s top professionals share the stage with leading amateurs.
On the intimidating main board of the De Vere Whites Hotel (Reebok Stadium, Bolton) and under the full glare of live Sky Sports TV coverage, the Ciren player did not disappoint, pushing the talented youngster all the way.
Amateur Boulton made the worst possible start, losing the opening two legs in the first-to-four contest. But a cool double-top finish in leg three got him back in the match.
He was always behind in the fourth leg and Monk needed just one chance to finish it off, leaving the Ciren man with the unlikely task of winning three legs in a row to progress.
He kept the game alive in the fifth leg, coming from behind before finding the bull with a spectacular get-out, which took the score to 3-2.
Nerves seemed to affect both players in the sixth leg. Boulton missed a double 10 for the win and then he spurned three further chances to take the match to a decider.
Somehow Monk missed a double four himself, leaving Boulton to close out the leg with a double five.
Monk then showed the grit of a champion in the deciding leg, saving his best for last, including a spectacular 180, to win the match 4-3.
It was the same scoreline when Boulton lost to Monk’s father Colin, also a touring pro, in a Swindon match two years ago.
At the finish, Monk puffed out his cheeks in an obvious display of relief as he praised Boulton for his gritty comeback.
Monk went on to win his next two matches against Jerry Hendriks (4-3)and Adam Hunt (4-1)to earn hs place in the last 64.
Boulton's Swindon League team-mate Johnny Haines also missed the chance of causing an upset against former World Champion and last year's UK Open semi-finalist Mark Webster.
Haines effectively had a match point but paid the price for missing one dart at the bull and Webster came from behind to take victory 4-3.