World number 17 Stephen Bunting is ‘full of confidence’ and raring to go ahead of the UK Open this weekend.
The tournament marks the occasion of the first major televised event of the year so far, which begins at 12PM on Friday live on ITV4 and DAZN.
Entering in the fourth round, courtesy of his top 32 world ranking, his first game will be after 7PM on Friday night.
Featuring all of the world’s best players, it takes place behind closed doors in Milton Keynes rather than the usual venue of the Butlin’s Minefield Resort.
Bunting comes in as the 17th seed and will be looking to match his 2015 performance, where he managed a semi-final run.
Really looking forward to the uk open starting Friday. I start in the 4th round. Draw will be live on itv4 after 3rd round completion. Can’t wait to get started. Thanks to all my sponsors and supporters. #letsgobuntingmental #pdcdarts #UKOpen pic.twitter.com/ZzF8mqmErc
— Stephen Bunting (@sbunting180) March 3, 2021
Speaking to Mersey Sport Live, ‘The Bullet’ claimed that he is eager to build on his world championship run and consolidate his highest world ranking to date.
“It’s well documented that the world championship run was my best for a long, long time and the confidence you can take from that is special really.
“I’m playing some of the best darts I’ve ever played so I’m looking forward to it.”
With the tournament offering up a huge draw containing world champions, world youth champions, the best female players plus a whole roster of talented players, it’s a tournament that is extremely popular with fans and players.
Bunting claimed that he was a big fan of the tournament’s format as he compared it to the FA Cup in Football. As he believes it adds to the excitement for both players and fans.
“I’ve been to the semis before and I enjoy the format where you don’t know who you’re playing until the last minute.
“As a big football fan, people compare it to the FA Cup so it’s a great tournament to play in and it’s an exciting format.”
Over the course of the last few years, Bunting has been vocal about the tough times he has endured in the sport.
Having seen an improvement in performances in recent times, he believes that we will see the best version of himself going forward.
“Obviously there’s going to be times where I turn up where I don’t particularly play my best for whatever reasons.
“As long as I know at home I’m putting in the hours on the practice board and I’m fully prepared for the season, I’m confident.
“I’ve got a good team behind me, I’ve got a great family behind me and we’re going to push all the way.
“I have to give a big accommodation to the PDC for everything they’ve done to be able to get these tournament to go ahead as well.”
Strict Covid guidelines will be in place for the tournament, which is of paramount importance considering the 160 players taking part.
Bubble life is different in every sport, but for Bunting, he’s happy to pass the time with the help of his PlayStation.
“I’ve just been keeping myself to myself and I’ll take a PlayStation and be quiet in my room.
“I’ve been playing a lot of Fifa, which I’ve never usually been into, but my lad has been buying all those Ultimate Team packs so he’s sort of got me addicted onto that.
“If it’s not fifa, it’s Call of Duty or the Division.”
With 2021 seemingly looking more hopeful every day, Bunting is looking ahead to what could be his best year ever.
He spoke about his goals for the year, but the main aim is consolidating his world championship run and breaking into the top 16.
“Off the back of the World’s, I come into this year and this tournament with a lot of confidence.
“There’s been a few sponsors that have come on board as well, which helps to prepare for tournaments and it’s great to have them.
“I just want to consolidate getting into that top 16 and have some wins on the pro tour and do some damage in the TV majors.
“I’ve shown glimpses of what I can do but it would be great to go all the way and win one of these titles.”
Bunting’s first game will be in the 4th round around 7PM on Friday night, live on ITV4.