Brett Claydon reached the last 16 on day one of the Professional Darts Corporation’s (PDC) qualifying school yesterday.
It was the Soham-based arrow ace’s best-ever performance at the qualifiers, and he fell an agonising two victories short of earning his tour card.
Competing at Wigan’s Robin Park Tennis Centre, Claydon - who represents Sudbury Town - defeated Darren Brown 5-2 in the first round, which featured 512 hopefuls.
As Claydon got into his stride, further victories came against John Michael (5-4), Mark Hylton (5-2), Jon Jukes (5-3) and Mark Walsh (5-3).
However, Suffolk county player Claydon was finally beaten when he met Simon Stevenson in the last 16, going down 5-1.
Stevenson went on to join John Bowles, Andy Parsons and Ricky Williams as the four oche hopefuls to earn their tour cards on day one.
The four-day competition will hold a tournament each day until Saturday, dishing out cards to the last quartet standing from each event.
Stowmarket’s Lewis Cracknell also competed, but was beaten 5-2 by Jason Marriott in the first round.
It’s now back to the darts board for Claydon and Cracknell as both will now try to earn their cards at the second attempt when action resumes later today.
Players who don’t earn their cards will be awarded ranking points based on where they finished on each day, which will go towards a final Q-School Order of Merit.
Ranking points: last 128 defeat - one point; last 64 defeat - two points; lst 32 defeat- three points, last 16 defeat - five points; last eight defeat - nine points.