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Hankey Gearing Up For UK Open Debut

Hankey got his first taste of life on the PDC stage at the 2011 Grand Slam (credit: Lawrence Lustig/ PDC)
Ted Hankey is preparing himself for his PDC stage debut in the Speedy Services UK Open next Thursday, when he faces unknown amateur Danny Dutson on the opening night of 'The FA Cup of Darts'.

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The two-time Lakeside Championship winner was the most high-profile player to join the PDC this year when he took up a Tour Card in January.

Hankey has since qualified to play in the UK Open in Bolton, where he has drawn Speedy Qualifier Danny Dutson in the Preliminary Round.

The Count could also face Andy Jenkins and Mervyn King on the opening night of the £200,000 tournament, but insists that after reaching the last 16 for the first time on the PDC circuit in Crawley last weekend, he's ready for the challenge in Bolton.

"The first target was to qualify for the UK Open and I've got there, so I'm happy," said Hankey.

"I'm playing an amateur qualifier and I'm looking forward to it, but you can't underestimate anybody.

"I've been in the PDC for five months and the standard I've seen is incredible, so I know I've got to play good darts.

"My problem has been finishing and hitting my doubles, but I've put a lot of time in with practice and I played really well in Crawley."

Hankey picked up his biggest cheque in his PDC career to date (£1,000) following a strong run in the Crawley ProTour events last weekend which saw him reach the last 16 and last 32, with a 6-0 whitewash of Colin Lloyd the highlight of his showings.

With professional players having competed in eight qualifying events to win their places in Bolton, the leading 32 will sit out next Thursday's UK Open opening night before entering at the Third Round stage on Friday.

Reigning champion James Wade is the notable early round entrant after he only managed 40th place in the final UK Open Order of Merit; he is joined by last year's two losing semi-finalists - Mark Webster and Denis Ovens.

Paul Nicholson, Wayne Jones, Steve Beaton, Jelle Klaasen and Ronnie Baxter are also in action on Thursday, while Co Stompe and Alan Tabern will face each other for a place in the third round.

They are joined by the 64 amateur qualifiers who have won through the knockouts held in Speedy Superstores and Rileys Darts Zones over the past two months, and get the chance to share the stage with some of darts' biggest names on the opening night.

Ireland's Connie Finnan, who won the Tom Kirby Memorial Irish Matchplay last year and competed in the World Championship, has withdrawn from the UK Open, meaning that his Preliminary Round opponent Andy Murray now receives a bye into the First Round.

Play in the early rounds is split across eight stages simultaneously in the Premier Suite at the De Vere Whites in Bolton, with the tournament being shown live on TV.

The preliminary, first and second round will be played to a conclusion on the opening night, with the draw for the third round being made at the conclusion of Thursday night's play, with the top 32 players including Phil Taylor, Raymond van Barneveld, Adrian Lewis and Gary Anderson entering the fray alongside the 32 survivors from Thursday.

Ted Hankey is 100/1 to win the 2012 UK Open with Bet365
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Hankey Gearing Up For UK Open Debut

Ted Hankey is preparing himself for his PDC stage debut in the Speedy Services UK Open next Thursday, when he faces unknown amateur Danny Dutson on the opening night of 'The FA Cup of Darts'.

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