Dean Winstanley was left wondering what could have been, after his World Championship title bid came to a halt at Alexandra Palace on Tuesday.
The Buxton-based thrower exited the PDC World Championships at the third round stage after a 4-2 defeat to Dutchman Vincent van der Voort.
Winstanley had beaten Wayne Jones and Darren Webster en route to the last-16 stage.
That ensured he beat his previous best at the competition since switching from the BDO.
During the clash against the Dutchman, Winstanley hit eight maximum 180s but just couldn’t find a way to get past van der Voort, who also eliminated him from last month’s Players’ Championship.
Winstanley started slowly and slipped 2-0 behind before managing to claw back the third set.
Van der Voort then restored the two-set buffer to make it 3-1 before Winstanley again showed pluckiness to reduce the deficit to 3-2.
However, it wasn’t quite enough as the Dutchman took the sixth to ensure a safe passage into the quarter-finals for the first time since 2011.
Van der Voort landed 15 of his 39 double chances and had an average of 93.90 compared to Winstanley’s average of 91.40.
Earlier in the week Winstanley overcame Darren Webster in the second round.
The 33-year-old blew a comfortable 2-0 lead to go 3-2 down, before winning the last two sets to advance.
“Darren did what he always does - he never gives in,” Winstanley said.
“I knew that even though I was two sets up it wasn’t over, I knew he’d come back at me and he did.
“I always seem to let players back in when I should be winning but I just did enough in the end, I’m through, and I can move on now.”
Winstanley hit seven 180s, 24 140s and averaged 92, a point less than Webster, but had a much better checkout percentage as he landed 45 percent of his doubles.
• Winstanley will now be supporting wife Lorraine as she begins her BDO World Championships campaign.
Lorraine faces Sharon Prins in her first round clash on Sunday (January 4) at the Lakeside in Frimley Green.