Raymond van Barneveld is at his most dangerous when he is enjoying his darts and so opponents should be fearful, according to Mark Webster.
On Saturday, the Dutchman announced his return to professional darts by winning a PDC ranking title for the first time in eight years, just a week after claiming a PDC Tour Card at Qualifying School. Back at the Bolton Whites Hotel, Van Barneveld scooped the £10,000 winners’ prize five months after announcing his comeback.
This week, he has been drawn to take on Alan Soutar on the televised Main Stage at the UK Open and Webster, who won the BDO World Championship in 2008, believes ‘Barney’ is on a good track for success and will enjoy the moment.
“It's a good story that he’s won already,” he told Betfred. “He won a tournament last week and that money now will sort him out for the World Championships. That’s a box ticked already for Barney. He can build on that through the year.
“He looked confident even when he was losing games, he seemed happier. He’s probably playing with, not a free pass, but he’s ranked down in 90-whatever (Barneveld is currently ranked 86th) in the world now so he won’t be worrying about things like that at the minute. He’ll be enjoying his darts and that’s what makes him dangerous.
“He looks relaxed, he looks happy and a happy Barney is a tough Barney to beat so expect him to have a good little run but he’s got a tricky section.”
Should Van Barneveld defeat Soutar, he will then face Mickey Mansell, again on the Main Stage on Friday, and will be looking to go as far as he can in a competition he won twice in 2006 and 2007.
However, Webster doesn’t believe it will be plain sailing for the 53-year-old and is looking forward to seeing him play Soutar.
“The draw can be nice to you but really nasty as well, he said. “That’s a tasty tie; not a lot of people know about Alan Soutar but he’s a good player, he’s put a lot into the game of darts as well.
“He impressed me last week in the tournament at Bolton and probably surprised a few people. Some of his averages surprised me but I knew he could play. He’ll be relishing the tie, drawing Barney, he’ll be on the big stage and straight away it’s a chance for Alan Soutar to stamp down his authority on the PDC.
“It’ll be some game and Mickey Mansell awaits the winner as well which could be an awkward assignment, so it's a tricky little section for Barney just to make it into the last 64.”
The UK Open is being played behind closed doors this year, between March 5 and 7, at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.