Mark McGeeney opens the show at the Ladbrokes UK Open in Minehead this afternoon, but no longer with a big target on his back. The hunted has become the hunter.
McGeeney’s last appearance in front of the cameras, back in early January, was as the number one seed at Lakeside. A lot has changed in the two months that have followed.
A week after exiting the BDO World Championship at the second-round hurdle, McGeeney was among a large contingent of players from the organisation at UK Q-School.
On the second day, McGeeney won his tour card outright, and at that moment the 46-year-old went from being a number one who everyone was gunning for, to starting all over again. Currently ranked 106th on the PDC Order of Merit, and facing David Pallett in the opening game on the main stage at the UK Open, McGeeney says he is relishing the challenge.
“That’s what I love about it,” he said. “When I was in the BDO, I worked hard for quite a few years to get to number one.
“I became number one and believe it or not I then thought to myself ‘I need a new challenge now.’
“To be the hunter is a lot better than being the hunted. It gives me a target to get up the PDC rankings and go as far as possible as I can go in this game.
“I’m looking forward to it. I’ll go under the radar while a lot of people don’t know who I am. I’ll just go and play my natural game.”
McGeeney may not have had the eye-catching runs that Glen Durrant has had so far in his early weeks on the PDC tour, but he has claimed the notable scalps of Dimitri van den Bergh, Mervyn King and Darius Labanauskas. Those trio of wins all being whitewashes.
A change in his practice regime is also on the cards. McGeeney and Nathan Aspinall, the world number 34 who enjoyed a fine run to the semi-finals at Alexandra Palace last year, are both based in Stockport.
“At the moment I’m practicing by myself,” McGeeney said. “Me and Nathan are both Stockport lads and we live literally 10 minutes away from each other.
“So we’re going to start practicing with each other. We said it’s silly not to be practicing with each other, and he’ll sharpen my game up. I’m looking forward to it. It should be a lot of fun.”
After being knocked out by Conan Whitehead in the last 16 at Lakeside, McGeeney hung around the venue for a few more days. With Q-School firmly on his sights, and a strong belief that he would come through the stacked field of players in Wigan, McGeeney wanted to say his goodbyes.
“I knew I was going over to the PDC, so I just wanted a few more days there,” he said.
“It was my last time playing at Lakeside so it was sort of a goodbye. I knew I was going to Q-School and I was confident I would get my tour card.”
Picture: Evert Zomer