Martin Adams produced a sensational performance on his long-awaited Grand Slam debut, as he averaged over 105 in demolishing World Number 8 Ian White on Saturday night in Wolverhampton.
Adams, who accepted the PDC’s wildcard invitation for the very first time this year, hit finishes of 133,136 and 116 to clinch his first win on a PDC stage since 2001.
He received a positive reaction from the crowd and he appeared extremely relaxed, which certainly translated to his Darts as he defeated a typically-tenacious White, who averaged 100 himself.
Adams will take on 2006 Lakeside Champion Jelle Klaasen tomorrow evening, after the Dutchman edged past Steve Beaton 5-4 in a last-leg decider in the other Group B clash. Beaton was the dominant force for much of the contest, but a superb 12-darter for Klaasen against the throw in the decider was the clincher.
Elsewhere, Andy Fordham produced a heroic performance on his first appearance on a PDC stage for over a decade. He was beaten 5-2 by a fantastic Adrian Lewis, but ‘The Viking’ acquitted himself superbly, averaging 99 against the Two-Time World Champion.
Andy was visibly emotional on his walk-on and his hand was clearly shaking early on, but his first three darts set the tone superbly, as he fired in a maximum to break Lewis. Lewis responded tremendously and stormed into a 4-1 lead, but Fordham was unperturbed, taking out a classy 116 finish to secure his second leg.
Lewis clinched the win in the seventh leg, but under such emotional circumstances, Fordham was absolutely exceptional. Adrian Lewis deserves immense credit too; he was professional throughout and clearly acknowledged what the occasion meant for Andy; his sincerity and graciousness towards The Viking was commendable.
Lewis will take on Michael Smith in tomorrow night’s Group C clash, after ‘Bully-Boy’ overcame local favourite Wayne Jones. Jones led 3-2 but crucially missed two darts for a 4-2 advantage. Smith capitalised on this good fortune and won three consecutive legs to get his first victory on the board.
World Number 1 Michael van Gerwen began his quest for a maiden Grand Slam title in emphatic fashion, whitewashing BDO Dutch qualifier Mark Oosterhuis 5-0. Van Gerwen averaged just over 102, although his compatriot appeared overawed by the occasion, averaging just 67.
Van Gerwen will face Kim Huybrechts tomorrow night in a repeat of their last 16 clash in Wolves last year, where Huybrechts memorably triumphed; hitting a 9-darter en route.
The Belgian was in tremendous form; beating Steve West 5-2 to open up proceedings in the evening session. West acquitted himself well, averaging 95, but Kim is full of confidence at present and his performance reflected that, as he averaged 105.92.
In Group D, dubbed ‘The Group of Death’, World Number 4 Peter Wright began his campaign with a flourish, beating reigning Lakeside Champion Scott Mitchell 5-2. Wright began purposefully and stormed into a 3-0 lead courtesy of a 130 checkout.
Mitchell won his first leg with a clean 48 checkout, and after Wright held throw for a 4-1 lead, ‘Scotty-Dog’ produced a phenomenal 11-darter to reduce the arrears. He missed 18 for a magnificent 156 checkout in the following leg, allowing Snakebite to seal a 5-2 triumph.
However, Mitchell shouldn’t be discouraged. He averaged 104, but just ran into an inspired opponent at his clinical best. With performances like that, Scott has a fantastic chance of progressing from this group.
Elsewhere in Group D, Dave Chisnall, who reached the final of last year’s competition, came through a hard-fought tussle against Mervyn King. King led 3-2 after producing finishes of 107 and 108, but after missing one dart at D16 for a 4-2 advantage, King’s scoring evaporated.
In the final two legs, Mervyn was unable to leave a two-dart finish after 15 darts and Chisnall capitalised, to secure a valuable two-points. What a night of Darts; but it’s fair to say that Wolfie stole the show!
Evening Session (7pm-11pm)
Groups A-D First Games
Kim Huybrechts 5-2 Steve West (A)
Jelle Klaasen 5-4 Steve Beaton (B)
Michael Smith 5-3 Wayne Jones (C)
Dave Chisnall 5-3 Mervyn King (D)
Adrian Lewis 5-2 Andy Fordham (C)
Michael van Gerwen 5-0 Mark Oosterhuis (A)
Ian White 2-5 Martin Adams (B)
Peter Wright 5-2 Scott Mitchell (D)