Bullet to hit the target

  • By: Carl Longhawn
  • Last Updated: March 7 2014, 11:23 GMT

Our darts man Carl Longhawn has two 33/1 shots and an 80/1 pick for the UK Open, which gets under way on Friday.

Stephen Bunting: Can continue his good form at Minehead
Stephen Bunting: Can continue his good form at Minehead

The UK Open is the first of PDC's traditional major events and is dubbed 'the FA Cup of darts' due to it's open draw and large field.

This year the event has moved from its usual June date and also its traditional Bolton venue to Butlin's Minehead, home of the Players Championships Final. Michael Van Gerwen is a strong 7/4 favourite and it's hard to argue with such odds based on his current form - he has already won two events this year in addition to his maiden world crown.

However, I see little value taking such a short price in a open-draw event, as well as factoring in the potential impact of fatigue caused by the event being held during the Premier League season.

That potential for tiredness impacting the 10 players involved in the Premier League puts me off their chances this weekend, particularly when you consider Sunday's schedule includes a quarter-final, semi-final and final.

Of course, there will be plenty of support for the likes of Peter Wright, Gary Anderson and Raymond van Barneveld who carry good form into the competition from the Premier League.

However, with a number of firms offering four places each way, there is potentially value away from the head of the market, starting with BDO world champion Stephen Bunting.

'The Bullet' took the bold step of switching to the PDC following his BDO World Championship victory in January. It's early days in his PDC career but the indications are that it is the right move.

What excites me about Bunting this weekend is two-fold - the start he has made to his PDC career, winning in his second floor event shouldn't be underestimated. Also, he has a proven pedigree of winning big open-style events from his BDO days, winning 10 in 2013 and this will hold him in good stead for this week. 33/1 looks great value about a world champion.

Also priced at 33/1 is James Wade, a two-time winner of this event and arguably a man with a point to prove following his omission from the Premier League this season.

Wade's record in TV events last year makes 33/1 look a very big price - he reached the semi-finals in six televised tournaments in 2013. Wade is a complex character whose personal problems have been well documented and did affect his game in late 2013.

There were positive signs in his demeanour and performances at the World Championships; his performance in floor events can be ignored as this has never been Wade's strong suit and a chance is worth taking on his pedigree in televised competition.

There was a temptation to pick Dean Winstanley, who has been producing some eye-catching performances in the floor events and I would put no-one off backing him at 150/1.

However, Mervyn King also looks a very big price at 80/1 and a safer option considering he reached the final of the Dutch Masters last month, being beaten 6-4 in a high-quality contest with MVG.

Both players averaged over 105 on that occasion and King went down in my notebook following that performance. He also played well in the World Championships, being unlucky to run into a clinical Adrian Lewis and also guilty of letting Lewis by missing doubles at key times.

He looks more at ease playing in front of less boisterous crowds such as those at Minehead. His last three ranking-event finals have been in European tournaments. As such, he looks overpriced this weekend.

  • The action gets under way at 1145 GMT on Friday and is being televised live in the UK on ITV.

  • Posted at 2120 GMT on 05/03/2014.