LEE EVANS, from Kempsford, lines up in this weekend’s £300,000 Coral UK Open against the 96 leading professional darts players on the circuit.

The prestigious event at Butlins’ Minehead Resort in Somerset from March 6-8 will be shown live on ITV4 and is pro player Evans’ first televised tournament. Thirty two of the country’s top amateurs have also made it through.

Evans, 26, set the feathers fluttering when beating 2012 world championship runner-up Andy Hamilton in the qualifying tournament for the UK Open in Wigan a fortnight ago.

Perhaps a better word would be destroyed as he took out Hamilton 6-0.

Only current world number one Michael van Gerwen was able to stop Evans and at one stage in that clash another upset looked on the cards.

“I was on fire that day,” said Evans (pictured). “I was only a ‘get-out’ away from levelling the match at 3-3 with van Gerwen before he went on to beat me 6-2.

“My biggest tournament win was in the New Forest Masters but beating Hamilton was by far my best individual success.”

Evans’ rise is no surprise to fans of the sport in this region.

Local darts promoter Martin Toomer said: “Lee is the most natural player I have seen in 30 years playing and watching the game. Eighteen months ago he was unbeatable and he is coming back to that sort of form.”

Evans’ attempts to get on the main Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) tour faltered when he did not get through Qualifying School, but he has a clear career path in mind.

“It’s my first season as a pro and I am going to be playing on the Challenge Tour which runs from about April to September and the top two on that Order of Merit will qualify for the main tour in 2016,” he said.

Evans is one of a number of strong players who can be seen at the Saracen’s Head in Highworth on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings playing in the Faringdon, Swindon and Fairford Leagues.

He plays in other leagues on a Friday along with various open competitions.

Evans has now quit work as a bricklayer/roofer to focus on his darts, practising during the day and playing at night.

“The Tuesday and Friday night leagues are the strongest in the area and I think I have been beaten just once in those since October,” he said.

“There is a very good standard in the Swindon area with the likes of Dennis Smith, Johnny Haines and Mark Cox, all of whom have qualified for the UK Open.”

Former Cirencester publican Ronnie Baxter, a veteran of the tour, will also be there.

Evans has received a bye through the preliminary round and plays the similarly-ranked Nick Fullwell in Friday afternoon’s opening round.

The superstars of the sport, including reigning champion Adrian Lewis, world champion Gary Anderson, the legendary Phil Taylor and van Gerwen, come into the competition at the third round stage.

“I’m happy with the draw,” said Lee. “I have never played Nick before but I have watched him play and he is very decent.

“Obviously, the aim is to get through to the third round and take on a big name on the main stage.

“But as that would be my first time on live TV I have no idea how I will cope.”