Bennett admits he would be “honoured” to compete in the Grand Slam

Phil Lanning in Darts Interviews 02 Dec 2019
BDO Youth Champion Bennett celebrates (credit:Taylor Lanning)
Teenage sensation Leighton Bennett admits he would be “honoured” to become the youngest-ever major tournament player.
PDC Chairman Barry Hearn urged the BDO to include the 13-year-old among their eight picks for the Grand Slam of Darts in November.
Live Darts understands that BDO World Youth Champion Bennett and reigning Ladies World Champion Mikuru Suzuki are being considered for selection, and Hearn has called for the duo and reigning Men’s Champion Glen Durrant (now a PDC Tour Card holder) to be included.
Bennett is a three-time semi-finalist on the BDO circuit this season and has notably beaten 16-time World Champion Phil Taylor in a high profile exhibition match.
The youngster is among the most exciting young talents in the sport and says he is flattered to be linked with a place in the elite cross-code major.
“I’m obviously very honoured to be thought of for such a major event and by Barry Hearn,” Bennett told Live Darts.
“I will respect whatever decision the BDO make for who they pick. That’s not my call but it’s a very exciting idea!
“I guess lots of people will say whether I’m too young to be in a major event. I don’t think I am too young because I’ve experienced playing top guys in front of big crowds.
“I’ve had a few SAP events playing the likes of James Wade, Peter Wright and Phil Taylor twice. I also beat Phil in Frankfurt.
“That doesn’t mean to say I can do it on the big stage but it would be amazing experience to get the chance at 13.
“I think I can handle the pressure. I feel that I was under more pressure to win the World Youth Championship at the Lakeside in January. When I played Nathan Girvan there was more expectation on me I guess.
“If I played in the Grand Slam then all the pressure would be on the other players in the group stages. They really wouldn’t want to get beat off a 13-year-old live on Sky Sports!
“But whatever happens it’s nice to be talked about as being able to play. It was very kind of Barry Hearn and I’ll see what the BDO think is best.”
Rob Cross, a mentor to ‘Boom Boom’, believes that Bennett could deal with the pressures of a major tournament. Voltage, currently in Brisbane for the World Series, added: “The old phrase is that if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.
“Leighton has natural ability and he’s shown signs of great maturity when taking on top players in the SAP tournaments. I think he can handle it. If he’s picked by the BDO, I just hope I don’t draw him in the group stage!”