SIMON WHITLOCK took victory in the year's second Coral UK Open Qualifier with a 6-4 defeat of Gary Anderson in Saturday's final in Wigan.
Whitlock backed up his two Players Championship victories in the latter stages of 2016 with a promising start to 2017 as he scooped the £10,000 first prize in the second of six UK Open Qualifiers.
The former European Champion is now assured of a top 32 spot for March's Coral UK Open Finals at the Butlins Minehead Resort following a superb display at the Robin Park Tennis Centre.
Whitlock dropped only three legs as he defeated Latvian newcomer Madars Razma and Alan Tabern Jnr in his opening two games before then seeing off Dutchman Jermaine Wattimena 6-4.
He then knocked out Friday's Qualifier One winner Peter Wright 6-3 in the last 16, before overcoming two other rivals in the world's top 16 - Ian White and Dave Chisnall - to reach the final.
After sharing the opening six legs of the final with Anderson, Whitlock broke with the aid of a 180 in leg seven before powering home a 154 finish - with the Scot waiting on 20 - to lead 5-3.
Anderson responded on tops, but was unable to force a decider as Whitlock closed out victory with a 94 finish.
The world number two had defeated Ryan Searle, Luke Woodhouse, Chris Quantock, Jamie Lewis, Brendan Dolan and Jelle Klaasen on his way to the final, as he picked up £5,000 in prize money to ensure his own top seeding for Minehead.
Chisnall's run to the semi-finals including deciding-leg victories against James Wade and Steve Beaton, while Klaasen was pushed all the way by John Henderson and recent PDC Tour Card winner Richard North.
Beaton won through to the quarter-finals for the second successive day, with his run including a notable triumph over World Champion Michael van Gerwen in the last 32.
Northern Ireland's Dolan and Stoke's White also reached the last eight alongside Bristol's Ryan Palmer, a former PDC Unicorn Challenge Tour finalist who enjoyed his best-ever run on the PDC ProTour by defeating Mareno Michels, Andy Jenkins, Richie Corner, Steve Lennon and Mark Barilli.
Two-time UK Open champions James Wade and Raymond van Barneveld were also amongst the last 16 on the day.