Stephen Bunting secured his first PDC title since 2016 at Players Championship 17 in Coventry with an 8-4 win over Dimitri van den Bergh in the final.
Bunting, who began the day outside of the provisional qualification places for the Betfred World Matchplay, all but sealed his spot at the Winter Gardens by taking the £10,000 top prize.
The World Championship semi-finalist narrowly missed double 12 for a nine-dart finish in the final as he powered past reigning World Matchplay champion Van den Bergh.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be stood here as a winner again,” admitted Bunting.
“A lot of people know I was close to packing in a few years ago but since then I’ve worked so hard behind the scenes, I’ve put everything into this.
“Trying to qualify for the World Matchplay was my priority this week, so to come here and win the title on the first day is beyond my dreams.
“I know I’m playing well, but I do honestly believe there is a lot more in the locker and I can relax now knowing I’m going to Blackpool.”
Bunting began the week’s first Super Series 5 event with a 6-2 win over Martin Lukeman in Round One, before dispatching Sean Fisher 6-3 and Aaron Beeney 6-2.
The former Lakeside Champion then overcame Ritchie Edhouse 6-4 before averaging 103.8 in a 6-2 success over Raymond van Barneveld in the Quarter-Finals.
Bunting then denied world number one Gerwyn Price in the Semi-Finals with a 7-5 success, having lost to Price in the Last Four at Alexandra Palace in January.
The St Helens ace began the final strongly by establishing a three-leg cushion at 4-1 and 5-2.
He then narrowly missed double 12 for a nine-dart finish in leg eight, returning to hit double six for a ten-darter to stretch his lead.
Van den Bergh took leg nine before registering a ten-darter of his own to claw back to 6-4 behind, but Bunting got back on track in leg 11 and went on to clinch victory in the following leg with a 64 checkout.
Van den Bergh posted five ton-plus averages in his seven matches on Monday, the highest of which a 110.43 in a 6-1 rout of Keane Barry in the Last 32.
The Premier League star also defeated Peter Jacques, Josh Payne, Vincent van der Voort, Brendan Dolan and Jose De Sousa en route to the final.
Bunting has leapfrogged Madars Razma into the provisional World Matchplay field via the ProTour Order of Merit, with Jermaine Wattimena now occupying 16th spot.
Van Barneveld is now within £4,750 of Wattimena courtesy of a superb run to the Quarter-Finals which included a 115.73 average in his 6-1 rout of Justin Pipe in Round One.
Michael van Gerwen’s wait for a first title of the year goes on after he squandered a 5-2 lead in an eventual 6-5 defeat to Gerwyn Price in the Quarter-Finals despite an average of 109.
Tuesday sees the 124-player field return for Players Championship 18 at the Coventry Building Society Arena.
Monday July 5
Aaron Beeney 6-0 Matt Jackson
Stephen Bunting 6-2 Martin Lukeman
Sean Fisher 6-5 Peter Hudson
Scott Mitchell 6-1 Rob Cross
Ritchie Edhouse 6-0 Glen Durrant
Dave Chisnall 6-4 James Wilson
Jason Lowe 6-3 Jake Jones
James Wade 6-2 Brett Claydon
Chris Dobey 6-5 Steve West
Ross Smith 6-4 Gary Anderson
Martin Thomas 6-5 Jason Heaver
Devon Petersen 6-2 Harald Leitinger
Raymond van Barneveld 6-1 Justin Pipe
Mike De Decker 6-4 Callan Rydz
Jamie Hughes 6-5 Derk Telnekes
David Evans w/o Kevin McDine
Martijn Kleermaker 6-4 William O’Connor
Mickey Mansell 6-3 Martin Schindler
Danny Noppert 6-0 Nick Kenny
Jack Main 6-4 John Michael
Gabriel Clemens 6-1 Lisa Ashton
Boris Koltsov 6-4 Geert Nentjes
Gerwyn Price 6-2 Ted Evetts
Matthew Edgar 6-1 Bradley Brooks
Jermaine Wattimena 6-3 Ryan Murray
Florian Hempel 6-2 Steve Beaton
Damon Heta 6-3 Keegan Brown
Niels Zonneveld 6-5 Geert De Vos
Luke Humphries 6-2 Martin Atkins
William Borland 6-3 Berry van Peer
Adam Hunt 6-5 Ricky Evans
Steve Brown 6-1 Madars Razma
Ron Meulenkamp 6-5 Wayne Jones
Nathan Aspinall 6-4 Jeff Smith
Maik Kuivenhoven 6-4 Eddie Lovely
Daryl Gurney 6-3 Jim McEwan
Adrian Lewis 6-2 Danny Baggish
Jonny Clayton 6-2 Mark McGeeney
Gordon Mathers 6-5 José Justicia
Andy Boulton 6-1 Ryan Searle
Krzysztof Kciuk 6-5 Kevin Doets
Kim Huybrechts 6-5 Krzysztof Ratajski
Adam Gawlas 6-5 Jon Worsley
Mervyn King 6-5 Andrew Gilding
John Henderson 6-5 Jelle Klaasen
Simon Whitlock 6-1 John Brown
Ryan Joyce 6-3 Luke Woodhouse
Boris Krcmar 6-4 Darren Webster
Brendan Dolan 6-0 Karel Sedlacek
Ciaran Teehan 6-4 Lewis Williams
Ian White 6-3 Jesus Noguera
Joe Murnan 6-5 Gary Blades
Max Hopp 6-5 Michael Smith
Keane Barry 6-3 Chas Barstow
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-5 Peter Jacques
Josh Payne 6-4 Andy Hamilton
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-3 Steve Lennon
Darius Labanauskas 6-1 Zoran Lerchbacher
Vincent van der Voort 6-3 Jeffrey De Zwaan
Alan Tabern 6-5 Alan Soutar
Aaron Beeney 6-3 Joe Cullen
Stephen Bunting 6-3 Sean Fisher
Ritchie Edhouse 6-3 Scott Mitchell
Dave Chisnall 6-2 Jason Lowe
Chris Dobey 6-1 James Wade
Ross Smith 6-4 Martin Thomas
Raymond van Barneveld 6-4 Devon Petersen
Jamie Hughes 6-1 Mike De Decker
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 David Evans
Martijn Kleermaker 6-3 Mickey Mansell
Danny Noppert 6-2 Jack Main
Gabriel Clemens 6-4 Boris Koltsov
Gerwyn Price 6-1 Matthew Edgar
Florian Hempel 6-5 Jermaine Wattimena
Damon Heta 6-4 Niels Zonneveld
William Borland 6-4 Luke Humphries
José de Sousa 6-0 Adam Hunt
Steve Brown 6-3 Ron Meulenkamp
Maik Kuivenhoven 6-5 Nathan Aspinall
Adrian Lewis 6-4 Daryl Gurney
Jonny Clayton 6-1 Gordon Mathers
Krzysztof Kciuk 6-3 Andy Boulton
Adam Gawlas 6-5 Kim Huybrechts
Mervyn King 6-3 John Henderson
Simon Whitlock 6-5 Peter Wright
Ryan Joyce 6-4 Boris Krcmar
Brendan Dolan 6-2 Ciaran Teehan
Ian White 6-3 Joe Murnan
Keane Barry 6-4 Max Hopp
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-1 Josh Payne
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-2 Darius Labanauskas
Vincent van der Voort 6-3 Alan Tabern
Stephen Bunting 6-2 Aaron Beeney
Ritchie Edhouse 6-4 Dave Chisnall
Chris Dobey 6-5 Ross Smith
Raymond van Barneveld 6-2 Jamie Hughes
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Martijn Kleermaker
Danny Noppert 6-2 Gabriel Clemens
Gerwyn Price 6-2 Florian Hempel
Damon Heta 6-4 William Borland
José de Sousa 6-4 Steve Brown
Maik Kuivenhoven 6-3 Adrian Lewis
Jonny Clayton 6-3 Krzysztof Kciuk
Mervyn King 6-3 Adam Gawlas
Ryan Joyce 6-3 Simon Whitlock
Brendan Dolan 6-2 Ian White
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-1 Keane Barry
Vincent van der Voort 6-2 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Stephen Bunting 6-4 Ritchie Edhouse
Raymond van Barneveld 6-3 Chris Dobey
Michael van Gerwen 6-5 Danny Noppert
Gerwyn Price 6-2 Damon Heta
José de Sousa 6-2 Maik Kuivenhoven
Mervyn King 6-3 Jonny Clayton
Brendan Dolan 6-3 Ryan Joyce
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-1 Vincent van der Voort
Stephen Bunting 6-2 Raymond van Barneveld
Gerwyn Price 6-5 Michael van Gerwen
José de Sousa 6-3 Mervyn King
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-3 Brendan Dolan
Stephen Bunting 7-5 Gerwyn Price
Dimitri Van den Bergh 7-4 Jose De Sousa
Stephen Bunting 8-4 Dimitri van den Bergh