Jamie Hughes won his maiden senior PDC title with victory in the inaugural Czech Darts Open, sealing his place at the World Matchplay in the process.
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The talented Tipton thrower, who won his PDC tour card at Q School back in January, showed no sign of nerves after a slow start in his first final on the circuit despite knowing only victory at the PVA Expo in Prague would be enough to seal a spot in the Blackpool showpiece.
Hughes fell 3-1 down but won seven legs in a row to triumph 8-3 and end the Bullet's hopes of clinching his first European Tour crown, finishing with an average of 97 compared to his opponent's 82.
The 33-year-old headed into the weekend, which began on Friday with a first-round triumph over Devon Peterson and also included a 6-0 thumping over Adrian Lewis 24 hours later, ranked 28th in the Pro Tour Order of Merit and just over £10,000 in prize money behind 16th-placed Kyle Anderson.
But this £25,000 winners' cheque in the final event before the qualification cut off for the World Matchplay means he can prepare for a first crack at the Blackpool major.
"It's an amazing feeling to win my first title, I've worked so hard for this moment," said Hughes. "I've been playing well for a while now, better than I played this weekend strangely enough, and now I've finally got the results to show for it.
"To make the World Matchplay so soon is fantastic for me and now I can't wait to show the world what I'm about on one of the biggest stages in world darts."
The 33-year-old had earlier seen off Ron Meulenkamp 6-3 with an average of 103 before edging out European Tour specialist Ian White 6-5 in an epic quarter-final clash.
In the last four he overcame conqueror of Saturday's nine-dart hero Gerwyn Price - Simon Whitlock - with an impressive performance which saw him hit 53% of his doubles and take out two 100+ checkouts.
Bunting was bidding to win his first PDC title since 2016 and reached his second final of the year thanks to victories over Chris Dobey (6-5), Daryl Gurney (6-3) and then Keegan Brown, who had stunned Michael van Gerwen on Saturday.
The St Helens man came up short in the final but will take a lot of confidence from the weekend as he too prepares for July's World Matchplay.
"I am proud of my achievements this weekend, even winning just one game I would've taken positives from," said Bunting, who also saw off Peter Wright on Saturday.
"It shows progress that I've reached my first European Tour final, hopefully it will be the first of many, and I can take my good form into the upcoming TV events."
Brown was the other big winner in Prague, as his run to the semi-finals saw him seal a return to the World Matchplay, defeating Michael van Gerwen and Mensur Suljovic along the way.
The 32-man field for Blackpool has now been finalised as follows.
Czech Darts Open: Full tournament results
Friday June 28
First Round (Best of 11 legs)
- Danny Noppert 6-2 Stefan Bellmont
- Madars Razma 4-6 Justin Pipe
- Jermaine Wattimena 6-0 Kevin Garcia
- Karel Sedlacek 6-5 Brendan Dolan
- Wessel Nijman 0-6 Corey Cadby
- William Borland 3-6 John Henderson
- Ondrej Plsek 0-6 Keegan Brown
- Andrew Gilding 6-3 Rowby-John Rodriguez
- Glen Durrant 6-1 Daniel Larsson
- Mervyn King 6-5 Steve West
- Vaclav Shieferdecker 0-6 William O'Connor
- Krzysztof Ratajski 3-6 Ted Evetts
- Chris Dobey 6-2 Sebastian Steyer
- Ron Meulenkamp 6-2 Jan Hlavacek
- Stephen Bunting 6-3 Robert Thornton
- Jamie Hughes 6-4 Devon Petersen
Saturday June 29
- Jermaine Wattimena 6-2 Jonny Clayton
- Danny Noppert 6-4 Darren Webster
- Simon Whitlock 6-5 Justin Pipe
- Andrew Gilding 6-4 Nathan Aspinall
- Daryl Gurney 6-4 William O'Connor I
- an White 6-4 Karel Sedlacek
- Ron Meulenkamp 6-4 Steve Beaton
- Mervyn King 6-2 James Wade
- Ted Evetts 6-3 Ricky Evans
- Chris Dobey 6-3 Joe Cullen
- Stephen Bunting 6-4 Peter Wright
- Keegan Brown 6-5 Michael van Gerwen
- Mensur Suljovic 6-0 John Henderson
- Gerwyn Price 6-4 Glen Durrant
- Jamie Hughes 6-0 Adrian Lewis
- Corey Cadby 6-5 Michael Smith
Sunday June 30
Afternoon Session (1200 BST)
Third Round (Best of 11 legs)
- Keegan Brown 6-4 Danny Noppert
- Mensur Suljovic 6-3 Ted Evetts
- Stephen Bunting 6-5 Chris Dobey
- Daryl Gurney 6-1 Jermaine Wattimena
- Ian White 6-1 Andrew Gilding
- Jamie Hughes 6-3 Ron Meulenkamp
- Mervyn King 6-4 Corey Cadby
- Simon Whitlock 6-3 Gerwyn Price
Evening Session (1815 BST)
Quarter-finals (Best of 11 legs)
- Keegan Brown 6-2 Mensur Suljovic
- Stephen Bunting 6-3 Daryl Gurney
- Jamie Hughes 6-5 Ian White
- Simon Whitlock 6-4 Mervyn King
Semi-finals (Best of 13 legs)
- Stephen Bunting 7-4 Keegan Brown
- Jamie Hughes 7-3 Simon Whitlock
Final (Best of 15 legs)
- Jamie Hughes 8-3 Stephen Bunting