We are right in the middle of the World Masters weekend, so I won’t be able to provide a FULL update on the events in Assen. What I can say is that there has been an American presence at the World Masters like never before, and I suspect that some cheap airfares in recent weeks have been at least partly responsible.
Of course, with last year’s Masters being cancelled, we ended up “sending” twice the amount of players that we normally would, but add on the rankings, tournament winners, and two years of country invitations, and you will see what I mean. There are a few spouses, companions, and friends competing in the World Open, but as far as the World Masters itself, we had no fewer than 49 (yes, forty-nine!) Americans in action!
The first day of round-robin play in the seniors event seemed promising, with a total of 20 Statesiders (11 women and 9 men) qualifying for the knockout, While there were some familiar names on the list, it was great to see some newer name making an impact, particularly in the women’s. The eleven who made it were Lisa Tyler, Tanja Bencic, Liz Tynan, Sandy Haas, Carolyn Mars, Tracy Feiertag, Cali West, ClayAnna Brandon, Robin Curry, Tasha Stewart, and Aaja Jalbert.
While I hate to single out individual performances, I think ClayAnna Brandon deserves a mention. Daughter of Jason Brandon, 24-year old ClayAnna was born into a darts family. She’s been playing for a few years – albeit only occasionally – but this year, she finally joined the ADO, and started playing a few more tournaments. She is currently 9th in the National Rankings, but when she got the chance to play in the Masters, she really made the most of the opportunity, winning her group, and then her first round in the knockout! Definitely, one to watch for the future.
Cali West was the last to exit the event, dipping out to Priscilla Steenbergen in the last 32.
The men didn’t fare too much better, although Danny Lauby Jr has secured a spot on the stage in Sunday’s quarter finals. Jim Widmayer and Kevin Luke both gave good accounts of themselves, reaching the last 32.
The nine who qualified were Elliot Milk, Danny Lauby Jr, Robbie Phillips, Kevin Luke, Jim Fitzsimmons, Jason Brandon, Joe Chaney, Jim Widmayer, and Leonard Gates.
I’ll be honest though, the biggest disappointment was not the players who didn’t win, but the players who didn’t play. It is quite shocking to report that not one, but TWO American men (who shall remain nameless, although it’s not difficult to fin out who they were) forfeited their games in the knockout due to not arriving at the board on time. That should never happen. Ironically, a third player was to suffer the same fate – after having already played once! I say ironic, because it was a Canadian, John Norman Jr who had just beaten my good friend Aaron Turner.
While I’m talking about Aaron, I’d just like to add my sincere condolences on the recent sad loss of Aaron’s dad Roy. What a lovely guy Roy was, and I had some great games and great times with him over the years.
Returning to the domestic scene, we are getting close to finding the 2023 US National Team (the Top 6 Men and 3 Women in the National Rankings. There are a few results still to be added, but at the moment, the standings look like this:
Men – 1) Leonard Gates, 2) Jason Brandon, 3) Bruce Robbins, 4) Danny Lauby Jr, 5) Kevin Yasenchak, 6) Dustin Holt, 7) Joe Chaney, 8) Kevin Luke, 9) Alex Spellman, 10) Jim Widmayer.
Women – 1) Marlise Kiel, 2) Paula Murphy, 3) Cali West, 4) Sandy Haas, 5) Bette Cunningham, 6) Robin Curry, 7) Tracy Feiertag, 8) Dani Warmack, 9) ClayAnna Brandon, 10) Brenda Roush.
The final rankings will be announced in Las Vegas.
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