Andy Jenkins has come through a thorough examination to secure his PDC tour card for the next two years.
The former World Championship semi-finalist, from Cosham, had to play four days of qualifying competitions in Barnsley to secure his entries into the main professional events on the PDC circuit after slipping down the rankings in recent years.
That saw a host of players bid to earn ranking points over the course of the tournament – with four winners each day automatically earning cards.
Jenkins recovered from the setback of an early defeat on day one to respond and qualify in joint-third position.
And he believes his performance sets him up for this weekend’s Benidorm Players’ Championship.
Jenkins said: ‘Qualifying School was harder than I expected it to be.
‘The first day I thought I would breeze through it but I took it too easily and lost in the second round.
‘So on the second day I knuckled down a bit and got to the last 16 to get a good step up the rankings. I moved up to tied-20th on the third day.
‘I knew I had to perform on the final day. I played Carlos Rodriguez and he was one point behind me so I knew if I beat him I was safe. After I beat him, I relaxed and got through to the final and that made sure.
‘Now I’ve got a two-year tour card. I’m in all the pro tours but I’ve still got to perform to get into the TV events. But it has made things a lot easier and I haven’t got to worry as much.’
While Portsmouth duo Ricky Williams and Tim Hope saw their dreams dashed, Jenkins believes he got a vital wake-up call and has reverted to some of his old techniques to fire himself back up the rankings after a long spell in the wilderness.
He said: ‘I felt like I played really well.
‘It opened my eyes up to what I’ve not been doing lately. So I’m back to doing what I was doing 20 years ago.
‘The week before the event I wasn’t worried but after the first day I was a bit nervous.
‘I was one of the favourites to go through but I had to concentrate rather than being one of the lads again. But I proved I can still do it.’
Former BDO stalwart Ted Hankey will be in the field for his PDC debut out in Spain this weekend, with two events played on consecutive days for a £35,000 prize pot.
While Jenkins and Waterlooville-based Simon Whitlock will be keen to make positive starts to the new season, Jenkins in particular needs an early confidence booster.
He said: ‘I’m looking forward to Benidorm.
‘It’s the first tournament for everyone so, hopefully, I can get off to a good start and take things from there to move up the rankings.’