Former Debenham High School pupil Stephen Burton secures debut at World Darts Championship next month
Stephen Burton has qualified for the William Hill World Darts Championship for the first time after winning one of the last three spots available at today's Tour Card Holders' Qualifier in Milton Keynes.
The former Debenham High School pupil was among a 46-player field bidding to grab a place in the sport's most lucrative tournament, with a record £2.5million prize fund on offer at the Alexandra Palace next month.
Burton, who won his tour card onto the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) circuit at the start of 2017, recorded a trio of 6-3 wins over Arron Monk, Darren Johnson and Kevin Painter to reach his group final.
The world number 80 took on Scott Taylor for a place in the 96-player event, which is screened live on Sky Sports, and reeled off three legs in a row to battle back from 4-2 down to lead 5-4.
Taylor replied by winning the next two legs to edge in front at 6-5, before Burton held throw in 14 darts to send the match into a decider.
Burton put himself in control of the final leg with opening scores of 99, 140 and 180 to leave 82 after just nine darts, but a nervy conclusion saw both players miss match darts before Burton got over the line.
Qualification for the World Championship caps off a fine few days for Burton, who reached the last 16 of the Ladbrokes Players Championship Finals in Minehead this past weekend.
Burton was victorious against higher-ranked players Jermaine Wattimena (6-5) and Darren Webster (6-3), before losing 10-4 to world number one Michael van Gerwen on the main stage.
Burton will find out who his first-round opponent will be at Alexandra Palace when the draw takes place later today on Sky Sports News at 5.30pm.
Meanwhile, Andrew Gilding was unsuccessful in his bid to qualify for the World Championship. The Walsham Sports Club thrower lost 6-2 to Austria's Maik Langendorf in his first game at today's qualifier.