Andrew Gilding using UK Open trophy as motivation for title defence at Minehead

By Sports Desk February 29, 2024

Andrew Gilding’s UK Open trophy still takes pride of place in his living room and serves as motivation as he prepares to defend his title this weekend.

Gilding stunned Michael Van Gerwen in last year’s final at Minehead Butlin’s to claim a first major title and pocket a life-changing £110,000 prize.

It remains the highlight of his career and he is not going to forget it, with the silverware still decorating his house.

“It was literally a dream come true, all through the week I was just playing my game, not feeling particularly confident about it,” he said.

“To make it all the way to the end was great and get that title, it was a dream come true. It is still quite unreal, they will never take that away from me. The trophy is still in the living room and I still look at it every now and again.”

Gilding was unable to kick on in the wake of his Minehead success last year and admits every tournament is a lottery as to how he will play.

“I don’t know if I will ever feel part of the elite,” he added.

“I never know how I am going to play. I do my preparation, turn up and hope for the best. It will be a new experience for me. Minehead seems to be the place I am most likely to do my best.”

One man who is very much part of the elite is Luke Humphries, who is aiming to win a fourth successive major ranking title.

‘Coolhand’ soared to the top of the rankings at the end of last year after winning the World Grand Prix, the Grand Slam of Darts and the Players Championship before capping it all off by becoming world champion at Alexandra Palace.

Now he wants to get his hands on more silverware.

“It’s another milestone, if you are going on ranking majors I have won the last three,” he said.

“That is a trend I want to keep going, the last time I was at Minehead I won it so it would be nice to do the double. If I keep playing the way I’m playing I’m hopeful. I would love to add it to my honours list.

“It’s one of the hardest to win, you can go through the whole draw playing the best players in the world and others can play the lower ranked players. It’s a very unique tournament, that’s what makes it special. I feel like the draw can be very unkind.”

Teenager Luke Littler, who has made a promising start to life on the PDC Tour, will begin his campaign on Friday night in what is his first major tournament since his breakout run to the World Championship final.

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