Hempl & Jones Win PDC Tour Cards on Day Three of Final Stage
Germany's Florian Hempel and England's Jake Jones became the latest players to secure Tour Cards as Final Stage of the 2021 PDC Qualifying School continued on Tuesday.
Hempel, a 30-year-old from Cologne who has previously played handball in Germany's second division, joined Geert De Vos and Geert Nentjes in coming through the European Qualifying School as he took victory on Day Three.
Hempel previously competed on the PDC's European Tour in 2019, but will now play on a full-time basis against the world's top players after defeating Dutchman Luc Peters 6-2 in Tuesday's final following an excellent day of darts.
He averaged at least 94 in all but one of his seven games, defeating former Tour Card Holders Niels Zonneveld, Martin Schindler and John Michael by 6-2 scorelines as he impressively secured his Tour Card.
He completed his semi-final defeat of Michael with a ten-dart finish to end with a 101 average, and sealed victory in style in the final against Peters with a 148 checkout.
"I am so happy!" said Hempel. "I did not expect to be able to win one of the four days and get a direct Tour Card, but the that makes it even better now.
"After my match against Lukas Wenig I started to think that there might be something special to come today. After that I always felt like I was in control of my matches and was that decisive bit better than my opponents."
Dutch newcomer Peters, 28, took a step towards securing a Tour Card from the European Qualifying School Order of Merit with his run to the final on Tuesday, which included a 6-4 win over Benito van de Pas in the last eight.
Stoke-on-Trent scaffolder Jones, meanwhile, will step onto the PDC ProTour for the first time this year after he defeated Australia's Gordon Mathers 6-5 in their final in Milton Keynes.
Mathers hit back from 3-0 down with four straight legs in the final, only for Jones to edge 5-4 up and eventually prevail by taking out 72 in the deciding leg.
Jones, a former Development Tour event finalist, was also a 6-5 winner against Eddie Lovely, John O'Shea and John Brown on the day, and overcame two-time PDC TV title winner Robert Thornton 6-0 in the last 16.
"It puts all the practice and all the hard work into perspective really," said Jones. "It's a dream come true, I can't really put it into words.
"All I thought before coming here was to qualify for the last four days and then it just takes one good day. Yesterday was probably a better day than today, I've won four games 6-5 and it's a rollercoaster to be honest.
"It's quite remarkable for myself. When I was younger, a lot of people said it was quite promising how I was playing, and I was England number one for three years when I was 14-17.
"It really is nice to come through, I've put a lot of effort into this tournament. I love my job but I feel like it's time now to play darts like I can, and we'll see in the coming years how we do."
Wednesday's Day Four will see the Qualifying Schools conclude, with the winners in the UK and Europe securing an automatic Tour Card, while a further 13 players in the UK and eight in Europe will secure a Tour Card from the respective Orders of Merit.
Five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld was unable to wrap up his return to the PDC circuit on Tuesday after losing out 6-5 to Switzerland's Stefan Bellmont in round one, and now sits in fourth place in the European standings behind Martin Schindler, Zoran Lerchbacher and Boris Koltsov.
In the UK, Jack Main, Martin Lukeman and Lewis Williams are now assured of claiming three of the 13 available Tour Cards, with Australia's Mathers also in a strong position alongside Scotland's Alan Soutar and former Players Championship winner Joe Murnan.
European Qualifying School Final Stage Day Three
Florian Hempel 6-2 Niels Zonneveld
Martin Schindler 6-5 Michael Rasztovits
John Michael 6-2 Arsen Ballaj
Rene Eidams 6-4 Jose Justicia
Luc Peters 6-1 Sebastian Bialecki
Benito van de Pas 6-2 Jens Ziegler
Vincent van der Meer 6-4 Boris Koltsov
Kevin Doets 6-2 Jeroen Mioch
Florian Hempel 6-2 Martin Schindler
John Michael 6-1 Rene Eidams
Luc Peters 6-4 Benito van de Pas
Kevin Doets 6-2 Vincent van der Meer
Florian Hempel 6-2 John Michael
Luc Peters 6-4 Kevin Doets
Florian Hempel 6-2 Luc Peters
UK Qualifying School Final Stage Day Three
Jim McEwan 6-0 Jose Marques
Gordon Mathers 6-3 Reece Colley
Jason Hogg 6-0 Andy Jenkins
Lewis Williams 6-3 Andrew Gilding
Jake Jones 6-0 Robert Thornton
John Brown 6-3 Joe Murnan
Jack Main 6-4 Derek Coulson
Martin Thomas 6-5 Martin Lukeman
Gordon Mathers 6-4 Jim McEwan
Lewis Williams 6-2 Jason Hogg
Jake Jones 6-5 John Brown
Martin Thomas 6-4 Jack Main
Gordon Mathers 6-5 Lewis Williams
Jake Jones 6-4 Martin Thomas
Jake Jones 6-5 Gordon Mathers