Meulenkamp and Horvat secure Challenge Tour success

Ron Meulenkamp (Lawrence Lustig/PDC)

Ron Meulenkamp and Dragutin Horvat secured Winmau Challenge Tour titles on Saturday, as Fallon Sherrock created history on a thrilling day of action in Hildesheim.

Saturday’s Challenge Tour double-header saw Sherrock become the first female player to hit a nine-darter in a PDC event, after she achieved perfection in the early stages of Event Nine.

Horvat claimed the Event Nine spoils with a whitewash win over Christian Kist, after Meulenkamp had dispatched his fellow Dutchman Alexander Merkx to triumph in Event Eight.

Meulenkamp, who lost his PDC Tour Card following last year’s Cazoo World Darts Championship, produced a series of spirited displays to claim his first Challenge Tour crown since 2014.

The 34-year-old followed up a whitewash win over his compatriot Maikel Kustermans by edging out Michael Flynn in a decider, before continuing his progress with 5-2 wins over Niall Culleton and Colin Osborne.

Meulenkamp also accounted for Sven van Dun, Geoffrey Murray and Eddie Lovely in reaching the Event Eight showpiece, where he averaged just shy of 99 in a 5-0 rout of Merkx.

Merkx underlined his credentials by averaging over 103 to demolish Wesley Plaisier earlier in the day, and he also claimed the scalps of James Hurrell and Danny Lauby in his run to the final.

Gilbert van der Meijden made it a trio of Dutchmen in the Event Eight semi-finals, while Lovely continued his fine form at Halle 39, having also featured in Friday’s Event Six semi-finals.

Sherrock’s nine-dart exploits dominated the early headlines in Event Nine, but it was Horvat who claimed the £2,500 top prize, which saw him celebrate his maiden PDC title in the process.

Plaisier again succumbed to an inspired display, with Horvat averaging over 99 to inflict defeat on the Dutchman, before dumping out emerging star Cameron Crabtree to advance to the last eight.

Horvat then produced the performance of the day to dump out Event Seven winner John Henderson, defying a 103 average from the Scot to prevail with a 105 average of his own in a stunning contest.

The German star continued his charge on home soil, overcoming Belgium’s Kenny Neyens in the last four, before punishing a below-par display from Kist to run out a resounding winner.

Kist was eyeing his second Challenge Tour title of 2023 following his Event Two success in January, and he moved up to second on the Order of Merit – behind Henderson – following Saturday’s play.

The former Lakeside Championship winner ended Sherrock’s superb campaign in the last 16, before also toppling Lauby and David Evans in the latter stages to pocket the £1,000 runner-up prize.

Evans ended Meulenkamp’s 13-match winning run in the Event Nine quarter-finals, while Neyens saw off Event Six winner Berry van Peer en route to the last four.

Elsewhere, Lauby capped off a consistent weekend by reaching back-to-back quarter-finals on Saturday, having also enjoyed a run to the semi-finals in Friday’s Event Six.

The Winmau Challenge Tour – featuring non-PDC Tour Card Holders who attended 2023 Qualifying Schools – continues from May 5-7, with Events 10-14 taking place at Milton Keynes’ Marshall Arena.

The top two players from the final 2023 Challenge Tour Order of Merit will secure a PDC Tour Card for 2024/25 and a place in the 2023/24 World Darts Championship.

Click here to view Event Draws & Results.

Live match stats can be followed through DartConnect.

2023 Winmau Challenge Tour
Saturday March 18
Halle 39, Hildesheim
Event Eight

Ron Meulenkamp 5-4 Geoffrey Murray
Eddie Lovely 5-4 Darryl Pilgrim
Gilbert van der Meijden 5-1 Jim Moston
Alexander Merkx 5-3 Danny Lauby

Ron Meulenkamp 5-1 Eddie Lovely
Alexander Merkx 5-3 Gilbert van der Meijden

Ron Meulenkamp 5-0 Alexander Merkx

Event Nine

Kenny Neyens 5-2 Dennie Olde Kalter
Dragutin Horvat 5-2 John Henderson
David Evans 5-3 Ron Meulenkamp
Christian Kist 5-4 Danny Lauby

Dragutin Horvat 5-3 Kenny Neyens
Christian Kist 5-3 David Evans

Dragutin Horvat 5-0 Christian Kist