Guest columnist: Dean Winstanley

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Conisbrough darts ace Dean Winstanley writes about the PDC UK Open and his darting year so far:

Tonight I will be at the Reebok in Bolton for the start of the UK Open and I’m desperate to put in a good performance.

The UK Open last year was my first exposure on television since joining the PDC and it’s been on television where I believe I’ve produced my best darts.

The last few months have not been the best for me performance-wise and I’ve been really disappointed with my results.

I’ve managed to beat some big names in preliminary round matches only to go out in the first or second round which has been massively frustrating.

It all went downhill after my nine-darter at the World Championship before Christmas.

It was a massive history-making moment and I went crazy when I hit it. I probably made a bit of a fool of myself with all the running about I did on the stage.

I set off running to the end of the stage and when I turned round to acknowledge the crowd I realised I’d run behind a wall and no one could see me. I think it’s probably the greatest nine darter celebration ever.

I don’t think I’ll be carrying off like that if I do the same again.

It’s been hard to live up to that moment and I’ve not been quite right since.

I’ve put in a lot of hard practice for Bolton and I’m determined to show that I’m still able to make a big impact in the PDC.

I’ve improved steadily over the last few weeks. I managed to qualify for the European Tour event in Gibraltar and I got through to the later stages of a few tournaments.

I’d say it’s been an improvement of ten per cent each time and I’m playing at about 75 per cent right at the start of this big week. I’ll be spending plenty of this week practicing to make sure I’m ready for the UK Open.

The good thing about it is I’ll be on the main stage if I win my first round match and that is where I throw my best.

I’m playing Dave Weston in the first round. To be honest – and this is no disrepect to Dave – I don’t know him. I might have met him in the past but I’m not sure.

The UK Open throws up these kind of matches and that’s what is so special about it.

You might not have encountered your opponent before but you know he’s going to be a tasty player because he’s managed to qualify. He’s probably going to have beaten a big name on his way through so you can’t underestimate him.

I need big performances in the next few tournaments to make sure I make the World Matchplay in Blackpool next month. I’d hate to miss any TV tournaments.

I think this could be the week where my year on the oche really starts to turn around.