Thu, 12 Mar 2020
PIC: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
NEWBURY darts ace Luke Humphries created history last week as he became the first ‘challenger’ to win in the Unibet Premier League at Westpoint Exeter.
The 25-year-old recorded a 7-5 win against Gary Anderson, a year on from his previous appearance in the league, when he drew 6-6 with Gerwyn Price.
Humphries said: “It was a good feeling to be the first challenger to win, but it was bittersweet because I didn’t play a great game.
“Usually when I go on that stage I play really well, but I felt there was pressure on my shoulders after what I had done in the World Championship.
“I always feel like I am still learning and I am gaining the experience, but it was great because I created a small bit of history.”
Humphries, who is ranked 34th in the world, then followed it up by reaching the last 64 of the UK Open in Minehead.
The Newbury man came from 3-0 down to beat Kyle Anderson in the third round, but suffered a 10-8 defeat to Andy Boulton.
“In the game against Kyle, I couldn’t really find my scoring,” he said. “I have a tendency to start games really slowly, but once I get into the game I can come back really well.
“Kyle was playing really well and it was a great victory for me as I haven’t played in many games when I have been far behind.”
Having experienced the stage at Minehead, Humphries is aiming to make more TV tournaments throughout the year.
He said: “I am hoping to get up there more often so I can start performing well all the time.
“I think some people might have expected more from me, but I am still young and I am still learning so these things are going to take time to develop.
“I know I can qualify for these big tournaments and when that happens I know I can do some damage as I always do well.”
Humphries wasn’t the only player from West Berkshire in action at the UK Open over the weekend.
Jason Heaver, who is also from Newbury and ranked 39th in the BDO rankings, reached the last 128 of the competition for the second time in four years.
The 45-year-old beat Jesus Noguera 6-0 in the first round, but suffered a 6-4 defeat to Kyle McKinstry in the second round.
Speaking after the event, he said: “I was absolutely over the moon to have played on the big stage at Minehead, but a little gutted with my performance as I know I can play a lot better than I did.
“It was my first time on the big stage and I think I let the nerves get the better of me.”
In the 6-0 win, Heaver enjoyed his time on the stage and made little work in reaching the next round.
He said: “I feel I played really well in that game because I had a 97 average, plus I hit 100-per-cent of my doubles with my first dart.
“I don’t think the three-hour wait before my second game helped very much, plus the nerves of playing on the main stage.
Speaking about seeing fellow Newbury player, Humphries, he said: “It was great that two of us from Newbury were able to take part is this competition and it was good to play alongside Luke.”
This weekend, Heaver travels to the Isle of Man for a couple of competitions before hoping to give Q [qualifying] School a go in January.