Anderson seals European Tour return following seven-year sabbatical

Gary Anderson (Taylor Lanning/PDC)

Gary Anderson will make his European Tour return at the Dutch Darts Championship next month, after winning through Monday’s Tour Card Holder Qualifier in Barnsley.

Tour Card Holder Qualifiers for ET5-6 took place at the Barnsley Metrodome on Monday afternoon, with each qualifier producing 24 players for each event.

The Austrian Darts Open (ET5) will be held at the Steiermarkhalle in Graz from April 21-23, while the Dutch Darts Championship (ET6) takes place at the WTC Expo in Leeuwarden from April 28-30.

Daryl Gurney was amongst the eight players to complete a qualification double on Monday, but Anderson’s exploits in the ET6 Qualifier dominated the headlines.

The Scot has not competed on the European Tour since 2016, but he came through deciding-leg ties against Tony Martinez and Devon Petersen to end his seven-year sabbatical in dramatic style.

The two-time World Champion recovered from 4-2 down to edge out Martinez, before surviving a late onslaught from Petersen, who fought back from 5-2 adrift to force a decider.

Anderson came agonisingly close to completing a qualification double of his own in Barnsley, having surrendered a 4-2 cushion against Raymond van Barneveld in their decisive showdown in the ET5 Qualifier.

In a battle of the former World Champions, Van Barneveld produced a mid-game burst to move 5-4 ahead, before defying a sublime 167 checkout from Anderson in leg ten to triumph in a last-leg shoot-out.

The five-time World Champion will also feature at ET6 in Leeuwarden, having already sealed his spot on home soil as one of the two Host-Nation Qualifiers via the ProTour Order of Merit.

Elsewhere, two-time TV title winner Gurney continued his resurgence to become the only player to have qualified for the first six European Tour events of 2023 via the Tour Card Holder Qualifiers.

The Northern Irish star was joined by Krzysztof Ratajski, Kim Huybrechts and Jim Williams in coming through both of Monday’s events, alongside Latvian trailblazer Madars Razma.

Three-time European Tour event winner Ian White maintained his strong start to 2023 with success in both qualifiers, with Irish newcomer Dylan Slevin and Germany’s Ricardo Pietreczko also making it two from two.

Premier League star Chris Dobey headlined the list of stars to prevail in the ET5 Qualifier, while former World Youth Champion Bradley Brooks averaged 106 to seal his spot in Graz.

Matt Campbell, Williams and Pietreczko also posted ton-plus averages in the final round of qualification, before Simon Whitlock denied former Austrian Darts Open winner Vincent van der Voort in their decider.

Meanwhile, Anderson was one of several high-profile stars to come through the ET6 Qualifier, with Dimitri Van den Bergh and World Championship semi-finalist Gabriel Clemens also advancing.

European Champion Ross Smith will be another star attraction in Leeuwarden, alongside Stephen Bunting, Steve Beaton and emerging Dutch youngster Gian van Veen.

Ten-time TV title winner James Wade, former Grand Slam winner Jose de Sousa and two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis missed out in both events, while 2021 World Champion Gerwyn Price chose not to compete in Monday's double-header.

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ET5 Tour Card Holder Qualifiers: William O'Connor, Ian White, Cameron Menzies, Jim Williams, Maik Kuivenhoven, Bradley Brooks, Ricky Evans, Daryl Gurney, Owen Roelofs, Simon Whitlock, Madars Razma, Dylan Slevin, Ricardo Pietreczko, Nick Kenny, Krzysztof Ratajski, Jeffrey de Zwaan, Chris Dobey, Matt Campbell, Kim Huybrechts, Luke Woodhouse, Raymond van Barneveld, Brendan Dolan, Mickey Mansell.

ET6 Tour Card Holder Qualifiers: Dylan Slevin, Adam Smith-Neale, Stephen Bunting, Martin Lukeman, Dimitri Van den Bergh, Jim Williams, Gabriel Clemens, Steve Beaton, Ross Smith, Daryl Gurney, Madars Razma, Ian White, Alan Soutar, Ricardo Pietreczko, Krzysztof Ratajski, Graham Hall, Adam Gawlas, Arron Monk, Kim Huybrechts, Gian van Veen, Gary Anderson, Keane Barry, John O'Shea, George Killington.