Curtis Hammond will be standing on the oche at Wigan next month with his eyes firmly fixed on joining the professional darts circuit.
Hammond, 23, from Hadleigh has clinched a place in the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) qualifying school.
Success there would see him join the best 225 professional players in the world on the PDC tour.
He travels to Wigan in January confident in his own ability.
“On my day I can beat anybody,” said Hammond, who is employed by Suffolk County Council. “It’s a massive opportunity for me.”
Hammond clinched his place at the qualifying school by finishing in the top eight at the national Redtooth Darts tournament in Sheffield, where 125 players were bidding for a shot at the big time.
The tournament was attended by 16-time World Champion Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor, who was on hand to meet and greet players, conduct a question-and-answer session and give advice.
Qualifying for that tournament started back in May, when Hammond was one of four players from the George in Hadleigh to go through to the regional qualifiers in London, where he secured his place at Sheffield.
At Wigan, from January 15-18, Hammond will be bidding to be one of 32 players to pick up a passport to professionalism.
On each of the four days there is a tournament, with the four semi-finalists joining the tour. Players who miss out there can qualify through the points system, with the top 16 points scorers picking up their tour card.
Hammond, who started playing at 18, has always had the ambition to be a professional. “I just love the buzz of competing against top players,” he said. “You sometimes get your knocks, but it’s an invaluable experience.
“In 2011 I competed in the UK Open as an amateur. I lost in the first round, but being on television, and the crowd’s atmosphere was fantastic.”
After starting out in local league matches, Hammond quickly moved into Super League darts.
Hammond — who had one season in with Suffolk B and is now in his second season in the A team — is determined to get to the top, but realistic.
“Time is on my side,” he said. “I’m still young, and if I don’t make it this year, there will be another chance next.”