Hindley’s Joe Murnan and three-time BDO world champion Glen Durrant were among 13 players to secure a PDC Tour Card on the final day of the 2019 UK Qualifying School in Wigan.
The fourth day of action at Robin Park saw almost 400 players return for one last chance to win a coveted two-year Tour Card, with the final two players from each day winning a berth automatically.
Ranking points were allocated to players throughout the event to form the UK Q School Order of Merit, with reigning Lakeside champion Durrant among the 11 players to secure a Tour Card via this method.
Local boy Murnan, the 35-year-old currently ranked 89 in the PDC, finished fifth on the Order of Merit with 12 points to win back his PDC Tour Card.
He already has seven years’ experience on the circuit, with a PDC ranking title as well as two Challenge Tour events on his CV.
Durrant, competing in his first Q School, suffered early exits on the opening two days of play, before Saturday’s semi-final was backed up with a run to the last 16 on Sunday to seal his status as a PDC professional for 2019 and 2020.
“This is as good as winning the Lakeside Championship,” said former Grand Slam of Darts quarter-finalist Durrant.
“I’m going through so many emotions right now, I’m so happy and relieved to get through because there was so much pressure on me to do this.
“When I looked around the venue I noticed that a lot of people were watching my matches, and I also put a lot of pressure on myself.
“Thankfully I got the job done and I’m immensely proud of what I’ve achieved.
“Now I’m looking forward to my exciting future with the PDC.”
Durrant was defeated by Kirk Shepherd in the last 16, with the former World Championship runner-up going on to record wins over Darren Beveridge and Kevin Painter to seal an automatic Tour Card.
“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in darts, I’m so relieved to have won my Tour Card back,” said Shepherd.
“I think I’ve been a bit of a nightmare to live with for the past few weeks because I’ve been so determined to do this, but now it’s all worthwhile.
“The standard is so high now, I don’t think I averaged below 90 in many games which is the standard you have to be at to compete, so I’m pleased with how I played.”
Shepherd was joined by another former Tour Card holder, Nathan Derry in the winner’s circle thanks to an impressive 5-1 defeat of local boy Murnan in the final four.
Strong displays over the four days from Jonathan Worsley saw him top the Q School Order of Merit to win back his Tour Card, while Carl Wilkinson and Gavin Carlin won theirs for the first time.
Experienced Welshman Barrie Bates was also successful in the 11th and final qualifying place, returning to the professional tour for the first time in eight years.
There were immediate returns to the ProTour for Murnan and Jamie Bain, with Lakeside Championship quarter-finalist Conan Whitehead also returning to the PDC circuit.
Former UK Open semi-finalist David Pallett, Adrian Gray and Andy Boulton also secured their Tour Cards via the Q School Order of Merit.
Among the players who narrowly missed out on the qualifying places were Challenge Tour event winner Cameron Menzies, former Players Championship Finals winner Kevin Painter and World Championship competitor Lisa Ashton.