Stephen Bunting move to PDC was 'brave' says Barry Hearn
Last Updated: 05/02/14 1:20pm
Stephen Bunting in action at the BDO World Darts Championship
Barry Hearn has applauded Stephen Bunting's bravery as he prepares to make his debut on the PDC circuit.
The 28-year-old decided to leave the BDO just weeks after winning the Lakeside World Championship and will play in his first competition for the rival organisation in a UK Open qualifier in Wigan this weekend.
BDO champions are offered PDC Tour cards each year and whilst the likes of Scott Waites and Martin Adams have opted against a switch, Bunting could not resist the lure of competing against players of the calibre of Michael van Gerwen and Phil Taylor.
The likes of Mark Webster and Ted Hankey have struggled to make an impact after moving codes, but PDC Chairman Hearn says "The Bullet" deserves respect for joining his organisation.
"I, for one, along with a lot of darts fans can't wait for this weekend's UK Open qualifiers to see what he's like because it's like jumping in with a bath full of piranhas."
"Most players with ambition want to play the very best for the most money and test themselves," he told skysports.com.
"A lot of players don't pick that up. Sometimes you'd prefer to be a big fish in a small pond and I can understand that if you don't have enough confidence in yourself and maybe you don't have enough time or whatever.
"I think Stephen Bunting has been brave and I knew he would be because he's that type of kid. He's also an exceptionally good darts player.
"I, for one, along with a lot of darts fans can't wait for this weekend's UK Open qualifiers to see what he's like because it's like jumping in with a bath full of piranhas. They can all play and kids you've never heard of are likely to have a 10 or 11-dart leg on you.
"He's going to find it very interesting and nobody really knows what's going to happen, which is the essence of all great sport."
Hearn says Bunting's first target should be to qualify for the World Matchplay in Blackpool next July.
But he warned it could take time for him to adapt before he starts challenging for major honours.
"He's got about 21 events before the cut-off for the World Matchplay," Hearn added.
"He probably needs to win £25,000 in those 21 events. It sounds easy, but it's not because there's 128 players all trying to do the same thing.
"We'll see. I like his demeanour. I've watched a lot of him playing on the amateur circuit and I think he's elevated himself to Premier League darts - not the event but the concept - at exactly the right time for his career.
"I think over the next six months he's going to have a few questions to answer about himself and I think he's going to have the answers."