Bunting: Masters success could be the 'catalyst'

Stephen Bunting (Taylor Lanning/PDC)

Stephen Bunting believes his Cazoo Masters success can be the ‘catalyst’ for further glory, after celebrating his maiden televised PDC title on Sunday.

Bunting defeated some of the sport’s biggest names to triumph in Milton Keynes, overcoming Michael van Gerwen 11-7 in a thrilling final to cap off a milestone moment in his career.

The former Lakeside Champion - who celebrated a decade as a PDC professional in January - has enjoyed an impressive revival over the last 18 months, which he capped off with a famous victory at the Marshall Arena.

“I’m very emotional to be honest,” revealed Bunting, who toppled four Premier League stars on his way to pocketing the £65,000 top prize.

“My confidence has been high lately. I always speak about winning tournaments but you’ve got to do it, and to do it on one of the biggest stages with the crowd all behind me, it was fantastic.

“I knew I was playing well throughout the tournament, but to come through this 24-player field and be the last one standing is just an unbelievable achievement.”

The 38-year-old was forced to recover from 5-2 down to deny former European Champion Ross Smith in Friday’s first round, surviving a match dart in the process.

Bunting then landed four ton-plus finishes in a 10-7 success against World Champion Luke Humphries, before dismantling Peter Wright and Nathan Aspinall for the loss of just three legs on Finals Day.

However, he saved his best performance for Sunday’s showpiece against Van Gerwen, winning the last four legs without reply to prevail with a 102 average and eight 180s.

“It’s really special to win this title in front of my family, my management and such an amazing crowd,” added Bunting, who paid tribute to his growing fanbase post-match.

“You can hear the support in the venues now. The Grand Slam was a fantastic crowd. The World Championship was unbelievable.

“I cannot remember who said it, but they said I’m the people’s champion. I will take that role all day long, and the crowd really helped me over the line.

“This is just a catalyst I hope. I need to keep working hard behind the scenes, and I want to push my game to another level.”

Bunting will return to action next week, as the opening Players Championship double-header of the year takes place at Wigan’s Robin Park Tennis Centre from February 12-13.

The Merseyside man is already back in the world’s top 16 following a strong end to 2023, and he’s determined to use his Masters success as a springboard for further honours.

“We all want to start the season on a high and that will give me massive confidence to push on,” insisted the former World Championship semi-finalist.

“To win my first event of 2024 sets a marker, so I’m going to have a bit of a target on my back now, but we carry on!

“I have shown glimpses of what I can do and to win a televised title is amazing, but I don’t want to stop there. I want the train to continue to flow.”