PDC Career

PDC career, 2015

 

After the culmination of the 2015 BDO World Championship, Norris confirmed his intention to enter the PDC's Q School, ending a nine-year stint with the BDO. He stated that "I've done the BDO circuit for a long time and nothing seems to be changing quickly enough. I'm not getting any younger, so it’s the right time to give the PDC a go. I've spoken to them (BDO Events) on a number of occasions and they haven’t been able to give me straight answers, there’s nothing on paper in terms of new events and so on. It's the same story every year and sometimes a change is as good as a rest, so I'm going to give it a go with PDC". Norris won his Tour Card on the first day of Qualifying School in Wigan by beating Carl Abbiss 5–3 in the final qualifying round. He also threw a nine-dart finish earlier in the day during his fifth round victory over Jason Lovett.

 

In his first ever match as a full Professional during the sudsequent European Tour 1 qualifier also held in Wigan, Norris hit a 170 check out followed incredibly by his second nine-dart finish of the week, his opponent, Jason Lovett, result 6-3 to Alan.

 

Failure to qualify for the first 2 European Tour events of the year was forgotten when Alan qualified for the 2015 UK Open. During the 6 UK Open qualifying events held over 2 weekends in february he finished amongst the top 32 on the UKO order of merit. The achievement meant that he would not enter the Coral UK Open until the last 64 stage thus avoiding the early rounds. Entering at this stage was reward for consistency during the qualifiers and guaranteed prize money from the event in Minehead was a welcome bonus.

 

The UK Open Finals were a disappointment for Alan. Seemingly cruising to a comfortable victory against Kyle Anderson in the last 64, Alan lost 5 legs on the trot after the mandatory break after 10 legs played. Leading 6-4 his finishing deserted him, his scoring was fantastic but Kyle took his chances at every opportunity winning the match 9-6.

 

Barnsley Metrodome was the setting for Alan's Players Championship debut and two more European Tour Qualifiers for ET3 in Munich & ET4 in Venray. Despite starting with a blistering victory against Ricky Evans in the first of the qualifiers, Alan couldn't continue the form in his second match losing to Gary Stone. He did however go all the way in the second Euro Qualifier of the evening securing a trip to Venray in Holland to compete in his first Euro Tour Event.

 

The following day Alan opened his Players Championship account with a run to the last 16. Darryl Gurney was Alans first victim in a tight match, Kevin McDine started well in the next match but Alan's heavy scoring saw him run away with the match winning 6-2. Robert Thornton had to endure a 112 average from Alan in the 3rd round, despite Thornton averaging over 100 himself Alan took the match 6-2. Joe Cullen put an end to Alans run with some clinical finishing in the next round winning 6-2. The following day Alan was drawn against Peter Wright in the first match. Wright started strongly and was up 4-1 before Alan took 4 legs on the bounce to lead 5-4. Wright levelled the match against the darts then secured victory with 11 darts in the deciding leg.

 

A lean period followed with Alan failing to secure any win in the next 6 Players Championships. Unable to finish Alans continued scoring power went un rewarded until the UK Qualifier for Dusseldorfs European Darts Open (ET6) at Crawleys K2 Centre. A disappointing board final match against Jamie Lewis in the earlier UK Qualifier for ET5 in Riese was quickly forgotten when securing 2 superb victories against Ross Smith & Darren Webster to book his 2nd Euro Tour event of the season. Finishing and scoring were perfectly in sync again. The following days Players Championship 9 ended in the second round with a narrow defeat to Terry Jenkins 6-5. Alan had the darts leading 5-4 but Jenkins broke Alan and then with the Darts took out a brilliant 161 to end Alans day. Sundays PC 10 saw Alan score well as usual but he had to endure wafer fine misses at doubles, including the bull for a 170 checkout that would have squared up the match 5-5. Andy Smith, who also scored well, took his chances and ended Alans weekend with a first round 6-4 victory.

 

Alans first season on the Pro Tour continued with a return to Barnsley for Players Championships 11 & 12. Saturdays draw pitted Alan against 7th seed Mervyn King in the first round. Alans gradual return to finishing form resulted in a confidence building 6-4 victory. Nigel Heydon was next up, Alan could have been ahead by 3 or 4 legs but failed to take his chances, Nigel took his and rolled out a 6-2 winner. Nigel Heydon then went on a bit of a run and reached the semi-finals. Still relatively pleased with recording a win on Saturday, Sunday saw Alan have his best day since the start of the season. Wins against David Ladley, in form Gerwyn Price and a crushing 6-1 win against the fist pumping Kim Huybrechts put Alan into the last 16. There he met Simon Whitlock, an inspired performance by Whitlock brought Alans fairly successful weekend to a close losing 6-3. When asked about the most satisfying win of the weekend Alan replied "The win against Kim, theres a time and a place for fist pumping, Kims timing was perfect!"

 

The continent beckoned for Alans next outing, Venray in Holland was the destination for the Dutch Darts Masters, Dutchman Jelle Klaassen his first round opponent and home advantage proved decisive. Jelle, supported by a very partisan crowd produced a marvellous display edging the match 6-4.

 

A three week break in the tour schedule did not effect Alans form and he enjoyed a very successful weekend in Wigan early July. Qualifying for both the Euro tournaments that were on offer on Friday he then followed up with a run to the last 16 in Players Championship 13 and a 2nd round exit in PC 14 over the weekend.

 

The last tournament before the summer break was the European Darts Open in Dusseldorf. Alan more than made up for the disappointment in Venray by reaching the Quarter Finals losing 6-3 to Michael v Gerwen.

 

The second half of the season kicked off with back to back Euro Tour Tournaments. A disappointing 6-3 first round loss against Kevin Painter at the European Darts Trophy in Mulheim, was forgotten the following weekend with a fine run to the last 16 of the PDC European Matchpay, a 6-5 victory against Michael Smith in the second round opened up the draw for Alan but he was narrowly beaten by an inspired David Pallett..

 

Barnsley and Players Championships 15 & 16 were next up but before they commenced there was the European Grand Prix qualifier to negotiate. Qualification for the 9th and final Euro Tour event, Alans 5th, of the year was rchived with wins over Ben Ward and Matt Padgett. PC 15 saw Alan crash out in the first round 6-2 to Jason Wilson who played some fantastic darts. Alans PC 16 concluded with a last 32 match against James Wade. Alan reached the last 32 with wins over Ben Ward (who was probably getting tired of playing Alan) and Roxy John Rodrigues. Another purse to add to the ranking table, which Alan was progressively climbing despite the lean spell earlier in the eason.

 

Alan needed better runs in Barnsley to qualify for the Grand Prix that was to be held in Dublin the following weekend. Players Championships 17 & 18 would precede the Grand Prix in Dublin so he got to see and compete at the Grand Prix venue, he just wouldn't be staying the whole week this time. However the memories he would take back home with him from Ireland would more than make up for any disappointment he had at missing qualification.

PC17 saw Alan exit the tournament in the 2nd round. Players Championship 18 started with a hard fought win against Matt Clark, Vincent vd Voort was next and things didn't get any easier after beating Vincent. Mervyn King, Michael Smith & Darren Webster had to be dispatched before being rewarded with a match against World Champion Gary Anderson in Alans first ever PDC semi final appearance. Alan beat Anderson 6-4 to secure a Final match against Kim Huybrechts whom had overcome Phil Taylor in his semi. Alans 108 average was too much for the belgian, Alan took his first PDC title with a convincing and impressive 6-1 score line.

 

Alan's success in Dublin moved him up to number 22 on the Pro Tour Order of Merit. The placing guaranteed him an invite to at least three of the end of year televised PDC majors. The European Championship, The Players Championship & the World Championships.

 

The business end of the year started with a trip to Hasselt in Belgium for the Unibet European Championship Finals. Alan would have to reach the final if he was to qualify for the Grand Slam of Darts in November to make a clean sweep of qualifying for all the majors in his debut season. A bright start against Peter Wright in the first round match was not capitalised on, Alan lost 6-3.

 

Next it was off to Minehead, for the Players Championship finals. The top 32 players from the years Pro Tour order of merit would battle it out for the title. Alan drew Terry jenkins in the first round, meeting on stage for the first time since the Grand Slam of 2014. If the GSoD match was anything to go by then this match should have been a treat but both players struggled with doubles and never really got going. Alan ground out a win but was not happy. Adrian Lewis was Alans opponent in the second round, some heavy scoring by both helped keep the crowd interested but once again double trouble halted the tempo somewhat. Adrian ran out a 10-3 winner.

 

It was now time for the big one!! The goal that was set at the beginning of the year, reaching the World Championship at the Alexandra Palace London. All the hard work and effort that had helped Alan achieve this main goal would now be put to the ultimate test. Alan did not disappoint. A first round victory against Robert Thornton opened a few eyes, his subsequent relatively easy passage passed Joe Murnum to the 3rd round caused a few more heads to turn. Mark Webster stood between Alan and a Quarter Final appearance on debut. He did not let his chance, beating a slightly off form Webster 4-1. Truth be known a Quarter Final place had been the target, the opponent though was not Phil Taylor but Jelle Klaassen. Alan was actually relishing Phil Taylor in his own back yard. Jelle would be just as tough and so it proved. Alan led most of the match. He broke Jelle early but the dutchman hit back, in fact they didn't stop breaking each other but Alan managed to hit hard at the right times and used the set format to his advantage. 9 darter set ups by both players seemed run of the mill in this match, Alan missed D12 to create more 9 dart Ally Pally history. Alan then had to endure a total wave of short legs by Klaassen, who managed to draw level and such on in final set to book a semi final place 6-5.

 

The season was over. 70,000 order of merit points, 4 major appearances, a pro tour title, 5 of 9 Euro tour event qualification, two 9 darters and a QF appearance at World Championship wasn't bad for a first year. This was recognised at the annual awards in January 2016, Alan received the honour of best PDC newcomer 2015. Wonder what Alans Target is for 2016 ;-) watch this space.......................