Lisa Ashton vowed “we are ready to take the men on” after making history by becoming the first woman to get a PDC Tour Card through Qualifying School.
The ‘Lancashire Rose’ followed Fallon Sherrock’s record-breaking World Championship exploits by taking a full-time place on the PDC Order of Merit.
Four-times Ladies World Champ Ashton, 49, gained nine points from the gruelling four-day Q School in Wigan which was just enough to make the cut.
She said: “I think it shows once again how far the ladies game has come. Getting through Q School up against 500 or so men, it shows how high the standard is now.
“There were 16 ladies entered this year, we’re all competing and it’s about ability now and not gender. That has changed so quickly over the past month.
“The level the ladies are playing, we are ready to take the men on. It’s opened another door. The ladies can keep going and we will keep getting there.
“We are proving though now it’s not about men versus women, it’s just dart player versus dart player, we are equal.
“Yet last week I was so gutted I lost the Ladies world final to Mikuru Suzuki, I wanted my fifth world championship.
“But I had to lift myself, get myself ready for Q School and start again. The hard work definitely starts now.
“Last year Glen Durrant showed that you can make progress quickly in the PDC and up the rankings. It won’t be easy but I need to work hard and see how far I can get in events.
“It’s amazing to see the ladies game becoming so big. We can definitely compete and I’m just delighted to be through. I am just celebrating with a cup of coffee!”
On a dramatic fourth day, Ashton lost early on leaving her with an anxious wait to see if her points total would be enough to get the card.
At one stage it seemed like she would similar to last year miss out by one point but it was Nick Kenny who remained in the tournament who provided Ashton with the lifeline by beating Stephen Burton, the only player who could overtake her in the table.
She can now look forward to two years on the PDC Tour after becoming only the third woman to hold a Tour Card after Stacy Bromberg and Tricia Wright previously held them in 2011.
It represents another history making moment for Ladies Darts after the exploits of Fallon Sherrock at the Alexandra Palace and sees Ashton produce once again after the heartbreak of missing out by such a narrow margin last year.
By Phil Lanning (@lannomedia)