Hughes picks up the top prize in Prague (credit:Jonas Hunold/PDC Europe)
Jamie Hughes secured his first PDC ranking title at the 2019 Czech Darts Open in Prague on Sunday, defeating Stephen Bunting 8-3 in the final.
Hughes, who won his PDC Tour Card at Qualifying School in January, provided the highlight of a remarkable first season so far by capturing the £25,000 title in Prague, and with it a place in the Betfred
The Tipton thrower began the tournament as a 50/1 outsider, but romped through a wide open field to go the distance and oust his stablemate James Wilson from the qualifying places for Blackpool next month.
Hughes began the final day with a 6-2 victory over Ron Meulenkamp with a 102.7 average and 60 per cent on the doubles before edging out second seed Ian White in a last-leg decider with a 99 average.
The former World Masters finalist then saw off Simon Whitlock 7-3 in the Semi-Finals with a high checkout of 136 before reeling off seven straight legs from 3-1 down to deny Bunting in the final.
“It’s an amazing feeling to win my first title, I’ve worked so hard for this moment,” said Hughes.
“I’ve been playing well for a while now, better than I played this weekend strangely enough, and now I’ve finally got the results to show for it.
“To make the World Matchplay so soon is fantastic for me and now I can’t wait to show the world what I’m about on one of the biggest stages in world darts.
“Double top has won me this tournament. You can score what you want but if you don’t hit that double at the end you ain’t winning nothing.”
Four missed darts at doubles from Hughes handed Bunting the opening leg of the final, and ‘The Bullet’ took out 95 on the bull to open up a 3-1 advantage.
Hughes, however, hit back with double four, an 83 checkout and a shanghai outshot to move 5-3 ahead, before following up with a 68 finish to go further clear.
He then landed double 18 to go to the brink of victory – which he duly closed out with tops for a 14-darter.
Bunting was appearing in his first European Tour final, and admitted: “If I’d have come here and just won my first game I’d have taken a lot of confidence.
“I didn’t have enough to tackle Jamie tonight but I’m proud of my achievements this week.”
“It shows progress that I’ve reached my first European Tour final, hopefully it will be the first of many, and I can take my good form into the upcoming TV events.”
Hughes began the weekend as a rank outsider in the race for World Matchplay qualification, but defied the odds to secure the final place in the summer show-piece at the Winter Gardens from July 20-28.
Keegan Brown’s run to the Semi-Finals also secured him in a place in the Matchplay at the expense of Kyle Anderson, with the draw to be made in the week commencing July 8.
Hughes’ triumph moves him up to a career-high 67th on the PDC Order of Merit and represents the biggest payday of his career to date.
Elsewhere, Saturday’s nine-dart hero Gerwyn Price slumped to a 6-3 defeat to Whitlock in the Last 16, while Mervyn King ended the debut run of Corey Cadby before going on to lose 6-4 to Whitlock in the Quarter-Finals.
Czech Darts Open 2019 Results
Sunday June 30
Keegan Brown 6-4 Danny Noppert
Mensur Suljovic 6-3 Ted Evetts
Stephen Bunting 6-5 Chris Dobey
Daryl Gurney 6-1 Jermaine Wattimena
Ian White 6-1 Andrew Gilding
Jamie Hughes 6-3 Ron Meulenkamp
Mervyn King 6-4 Corey Cadby
Gerwyn Price 3-6 Simon Whitlock
Keegan Brown 6-2 Mensur Suljovic
Stephen Bunting 6-3 Daryl Gurney
Ian White 5-6 Jamie Hughes
Mervyn King 4-6 Simon Whitlock
Keegan Brown 4-7 Stephen Bunting
Jamie Hughes 7-3 Simon Whitlock
Jamie Hughes 8-3 Stephen Bunting