Race to Blackpool: Jeffrey de Zwaan set for World Matchplay return after run to Players Championship 12 final

Jeffrey de Zwaan is into a provisional spot for the World Matchplay after his run to the final of Players Championship 12 on Sunday.

The world number 40 enjoyed a stunning debut in the tournament, held at the Winter Gardens, in Blackpool, last summer, beating world number one Michael van Gerwen, Adrian Lewis and Dave Chisnall on his way to the semi-finals.

But heading into last weekend’s Players Championship double-header in Barnsley, de Zwaan was outside the provisional list of the top 16 players from the ProTour Order of Merit set to qualify for this year’s staging of the World Matchplay.

De Zwaan started his weekend by winning through both European Tour Qualifiers, held on the Friday, before going out first round in Players Championship 11 the following day.

However, the 23-year-old responded by going all the way to the final of Players Championship 12 on Sunday, recording averages of 103, 102 and 106 in wins over Steve Beaton, Glen Durrant and John Henderson.

De Zwaan raced into a 4-0 lead in the final against James Wade, the winner of Players Championship 11 on Saturday, before losing eight of the next nine legs to fall 8-5 to the multiple-time major champion in the decider.

Nevertheless, it was a much-needed big weekend for de Zwaan, and it has lifted him into the provisional ProTour spots for the World Matchplay, with 13 events left to go before the cut-off.

The jostling of positions is expected to continue over the next few months, with Keegan Brown, who is currently in the 16th and final ProTour spot, only ahead of Ross Smith on count back.

As things stand, we could see as many as seven debutants at the Winter Gardens in July, with UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall, Ricky Evans, Krzysztof Ratajski, Danny Noppert, Glen Durrant, Ryan Searle and Gabriel Clemens all set to qualify.

Follow the latest PDC order of merits via Weekly Dartscast co-host Burton DeWitt on Twitter!

Picture: Lawrence Lustig/PDC

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