Darts: Lisa Ashton creates more female darting history by winning tour card

Women's darts continues to gather strength, after England's Lisa Ashton became the first female to win a place on the main Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) pro tour.

On Monday (NZ time), the Bolton 49-year-old won her two-year tour card at qualifying school in Wigan, claiming the 12th and final spot via the UK Order of Merit 

Ashton becomes the first woman to win a tour card from 'Q-School', although Stacy Bromberg and Tricia Wright were handed cards for 2011, after reaching the PDC Women's World Championship final.

Ashton was one of 31 players to win a two-year card at the 2020 qualifying school, held over four days at Wigan and Hildesheim, Germany.

Ashton had narrowly missed out on one of 12 automatic tour cards on day two of the event, losing her last four games against Hong Kong's Kai Fan Leung 5-4. 

Then, after suffering an early exit on the final day, 'The Lancashire Rose' had an agonising wait to see if she would claim hers through the Order of Merit. 

Overall, she beat 13 men in 17 matches over the four days. 

The top 12 players on the UK Q-School Order of Merit and the top seven players on the European Q-School Order of Merit after four days of competition earn tour cards. The Order of Merit was based on wins accumulated over the four days of competition. 

That confirmation arrived late in the afternoon, with the four-time women's world champion now ensured a place at every pro tour event for the next two years.

"I am so, so happy to finally get my tour card," said Ashton, who missed out by one point at 2019 Q-School.

"I was sat there all day, with people trying to work out if I had qualified, so I just said, 'tell me at the end, I can't deal with the stress'.

"So when I found out I'd done it, that was a great moment."

Her achievement comes hot on the heels of Fallon Sherrock's historic feats, when she became the first woman to win a match at the PDC World Championship - the sport's most prestigious competition.

Sherrock, a former hairdresser from Milton Keynes, made headlines around the world by beating Englishman Ted Evetts in round one, before knocking out Austrian Mensur Suljovic in the second round.

The 25-year-old, who will compete at the NZ Darts Masters in August, also competed at Q-School, but finished well down the Order of Merit standings in 156th. 

A record number of participants (853) contested Q-School this year, with 521 in England and 332 in Germany competing for the 31 tour cards available. 

"To come through a field of over 500 men, I couldn't be any happier," said Ashton. "But I know I've got more in the tank and now I'm going to take my dreams wherever I can."

Meanwhile, Kiwis Cody Harris and Darren Herewini both missed out on tour cards.

Harris came agonisingly close in Germany, falling one point short of becoming the first Kiwi to win a card. Needing a top-seven finish, Harris, competing for the third time, finished ninth overall.
After struggling on the first two days, he eventually found form on day four, reaching the quarter-finals, but losing 5-2 to Dutchman Dirk van Duijvenbode to ending his hopes. 

Victory would have been enough to secure a tour spot.
Herewini's highlight was reaching the last 64, after struggling on the first three days of competition. He finished 174th.