Mendham’s Peter Wright is hoping he can withstand the heat as he bids to capture his second major title at the BetVictor World Matchplay.
Wright ended his wait for a maiden major with victory in the UK Open back in March, before losing out to Michael van Gerwen in a last-leg decider in the Premier League final in May, and heads to Lancashire this weekend looking to kick-start his latest challenge to double his major tally.
The 47-year-old takes on world number 35 James Wilson, one of five debutants in Blackpool this year, in the first round on Saturday night. And Wright hopes his past experiences of playing on the Winter Gardens stage can work in his favour.
“I’m used to the stage at the Winter Gardens, and playing in 110 degrees which it can get up to, but for the new players it’s not something they are used to,” Wright told the Express. “Hopefully I can use that as a slight advantage.
“It’s a great tournament. The second or third biggest after the Premier League and the World Championship, and it would be nice to win it.”
Wright is enjoying the most successful year of his career to date, winning nine tournaments on the PDC circuit so far this season, a feat which has only been achieved by five other players.
Following title number nine at the European Darts Open in Leverkusen three weeks ago, the world number three has been in China and the USA for the second and third events of this year’s World Series of Darts tour.
Wright suffered quarter-final exits in both events, dispatching a host nation qualifier in the first round of both, before losing to James Wade (8-5) in Shanghai, and most recently, Daryl Gurney (8-7) in Las Vegas this past weekend.
“My form has been a bit up and down I suppose,” Wright admitted. “I didn’t do too well in the two World Series events in Shanghai and Vegas which was frustrating, but I couldn’t get into a proper sleep pattern.
“I was waking up at two o’clock in the morning, then at seven I was sleeping for an hour. I didn’t sleep a lot and my performances weren’t great.”
Such is the relentlessness of the PDC circuit nowadays, Wright had two days back at his Mendham home this week before heading off to Blackpool yesterday for the World Matchplay, which this year boasts a tournament record prize fund of £500,000.
World number one van Gerwen will once again be the man to beat at the Winter Gardens, with the Dutchman having won the event for the last two years.
With the first event of the triple-header of World Series tournaments in New Zealand and Australia starting on August 11, just 12 days after the final of this year’s World Matchplay on July 30, Wright plans to take six sets of darts with him to Blackpool ready for the trip Down Under.
“The darts I’ve been winning tournaments with this year don’t work in the heat,” Wright said. “I’ll be using heavier darts in Blackpool.”