Five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld has regained his PDC Tour Card, just over a year after retiring from darts.
Van Barneveld bowed out from the sport at the 2020 World Darts Championship, succumbing 3-1 to veteran American Darin Young in the first round.
The 53-year-old cut a desolate figure following his departure, but in September last year, he revealed that he was planning a sensational comeback.
Ironically, the Dutchman would have still been in the world’s top 64 had he not relinquished his Tour Card, although this meant he was forced to progress through Qualifying School in Niedernhausen, Germany.
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BARNEY. IS. 𝘽𝘼𝘾𝙆! 👁🐅
Raymond van Barneveld has regained his PDC Tour Card!
The Dutchman's latest win at European Q School means his place in the qualification places is secure. pic.twitter.com/LOFrTgKahM
Van Barneveld advanced through to the final stage of Q-School in comprehensive fashion last week, although with just 12 Tour Cards available from a field of 128 players, qualification was no guarantee.
He made an impressive start to the four-day event, reaching the last 16 on the opening day before running into an inspired Martin Schindler, before storming his way through to the semi-finals on day two, with a series of impressive displays.
This put the five-time world champion in pole position to claim one of the eight available Tour Cards via the European Q-School Order of Merit, although a shock first-round defeat to Switzerland’s Stefan Bellmont on day three left his hopes hanging in the balance.
Van Barneveld required a run to the last 16 to guarantee his two-year Tour Card on the fourth and final day, and he duly delivered.
The 53-year-old kicked off proceedings with a whitewash win over Germany’s Daniel Meyer, before battling past former top-16 star Benito van de Pas 6-4 to reach the third round, where he recorded his second whitewash win of the day to dump out his compatriot Willem Mandigers.
This saw Van Barneveld join the trio of Schindler, Boris Koltsov and Zoran Lerchbacher in confirming their spots via the Qualifying School Order of Merit, but the doyen of Dutch darts remains in contention to claim an outright spot on Wednesday.
The former Premier League champion defied a nine-darter from Schindler in a high-quality last 16 tussle to prevail 6-4 in a contest which saw both men average over 100.
Van Barneveld – the winner of 26 major titles – will now feature in next month’s UK Open, and he will make his return as a PDC Tour Card holder at next week’s inaugural Super Series – taking place from February 25-28 in Bolton.
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