Joe Cullen secured his maiden PDC ranking title after recording a thrilling victory over Saturday’s winner Daryl Gurney in the final of Players Championship Eight at the Barnsley Metrodome on Sunday afternoon.
Gurney had secured his maiden PDC title just 24 hours earlier; averaging 105 to defeat Kim Huybrechts at Players Championship Seven. The Northern Irishman’s triumph provided inspiration for Cullen, who produced several stunning displays to scoop the £10,000 winner’s cheque and round-off the biggest win of his darting career thus far.
Gurney’s victory on Saturday meant that Cullen had become the highest-ranked player in the PDC without a ranking title to his name, but the Yorkshireman only held this record for a matter of hours; ironically defeating Gurney to dispel that statistic. However, it wasn’t all plain sailing for Cullen, who survived two match darts in the opening round.
Although Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson were absent this weekend, there was by no means a shortage of quality on show. Cullen triumphed in a gripping final with a 101.56 average, six maximums and 36% on the doubles, as Gurney was denied despite averaging 107.94, landing six 180’s and converting 56% of his double attempts.
Cullen kicked off the final with a maximum, before drawing first blood by pinning D6 with his fifth attempt at double. Gurney levelled proceedings with a 14-dart hold, but Cullen regained the lead with a brilliant 12-darter, having begun the leg with seven perfect darts.
‘The Rockstar’ then secured a precious break of throw in the fourth leg. Gurney wired tops for a 120 outshot and Cullen pinned D5 for a 14-darter, before establishing a commanding 4-1 cushion after following up his fourth maximum with a 16-dart hold on tops.
Gurney responded magnificently with an 11-darter to cut the deficit to 4-2, but Cullen was in relentless mood. The pair traded maximums in a high-quality seventh leg, but the Bradford ace found D6 to complete a 14-dart hold and move to within the cusp of a ground-breaking victory.
Gurney was at the point of no return, but produced a series of exquisite legs to force his way back into contention. The Northern Irishman defied Cullen’s sixth maximum to stay afloat on D10, before following up visits of 174 and 180 to register his second 11-darter of the contest and reduce the arrears to 5-4.
‘Super-Chin’ was hitting the treble 20 with unwavering precision and crashed in his sixth maximum to complete a 15-dart hold and force a dramatic last-leg shootout. However, Cullen had the advantage of throw in the decider and it ultimately proved decisive.
Gurney continued his magnificent scoring to leave 87 after just nine darts, but he missed a dart at the bullseye for a second consecutive PDC title. Cullen then held his nerve superbly to pin D4 and complete a 64 checkout to clinch his maiden PDC title, six years on from appearing in his first PDC final.
Cullen had endured a disappointing Pro Tour season up until now, but ‘The Rockstar’ produced a string of fine performances to win his first ever PDC crown in Barnsley. He kicked off his campaign with a nerve-jangling 6-5 win over Yordi Meeuwisse, before easing past Robert Owen to reach the board final.
Cullen then recorded successive 6-3 victories over Steve Beaton and John Michael respectively, to move into the last eight where he faced Sunday’s surprise package James Richardson. The Yorkshire ace edged out ‘Ruthless’ 6-4 in a hard-fought battle, to set up a semi-final clash with the in-form Mervyn King.
King’s performances have gone somewhat under the radar this year, but the Norfolk ace performed impressively to reach his third Players Championship semi-final of 2017. He defeated Andy Jenkins, Peter Hudson, Cristo Reyes, Josh Payne and Gerwyn Price to reach the last four, before succumbing 6-4 to Cullen in an entertaining tussle.
Elsewhere, having clinched his maiden PDC title just 24 hours earlier, Daryl Gurney produced further heroics to reach his third PDC final on Sunday afternoon. ‘Super-Chin’ made a blistering start to his campaign, dropping just five legs in defeating the trio of David Pallett, Ronnie Baxter and Kirk Shepherd.
The Northern Irishman then faced Dave Chisnall in a gripping last 16 clash. ‘Chizzy’ averaged over 108 for much of the contest, but Gurney pegged a nerveless 120 kill on tops to seal a 6-4 victory with a 99 average. ‘Super-Chin’ then replicated this feat in the quarter-finals; defeating his good friend Stuart Kellett by the same scoreline.
In the last four, Gurney faced eight-time major winner James Wade, who had breezed through the field on Sunday afternoon. ‘The Machine’ defeated Brendan Dolan, Rob Hewson, Sven Groen, Alan Norris and whitewashed Robbie Green, but he was unable to prevent the imperious ‘Super-Chin’ from reaching back-to-back finals.
However, a host of other big names suffered shock opening round defeats on Sunday afternoon. Top seed Peter Wright was dumped out by the veteran Wayne Jones, whilst Players Championship four winner Simon Whitlock suffered a shock deciding-leg defeat to Craig Gilchrist.
Saturday’s finalist Kim Huybrechts was convincingly beaten by a resurgent Paul Nicholson, as Jelle Klaasen suffered another first-round exit at the hands of Richie Corner. Michael Smith and Ian White were also beaten at the same stage by Warrick Scheffer and Vincent van der Voort respectively.
Despite this, it was also a positive day for a number of lesser names. James Richardson reached his first Pro Tour quarter-final since 2011 before succumbing to eventual winner Joe Cullen, whilst Stuart Kellett defeated Dirk van Duijvenbode, James Wilson and Raymond van Barneveld to reach his first PDC quarter-final for over three years.
Nevertheless, today the plaudits deservedly go to ‘The Rockstar’, who becomes the 64th different winner on the PDC Pro Tour. As a result of Gurney and Cullen’s maiden successes this weekend, Kyle Anderson, Darren Webster and Cristo Reyes remain the solitary members of the world’s top 32 without a PDC ranking title to their name.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Players Championship Eight
Sunday April 9, Barnsley Metrodome
Wayne Jones 6-4 Peter Wright
Terry Roach 6-5 Diogo Portela
John Henderson 6-3 Jonny Clayton
Mick Todd 6-1 Zoran Lerchbacher v
Steve West 6-5 Tony Newell
Robbie Green 6-3 Ryan Palmer
Stephen Bunting 6-2 Ross Twell
Antonio Alcinas 6-0 Andy Boulton
Alan Norris 6-4 Ritchie Edhouse
Andy Hamilton 6-2 Richie Burnett
Jamie Bain 6-3 Darren Webster
Chris Quantock 6-5 Dennis Smith
James Wade 6-3 Brendan Dolan
Rob Hewson 6-4 Wes Newton
Mark Barilli 6-4 Christian Kist
Sven Groen 6-5 Jeffrey de Graaf
Paul Nicholson 6-2 Kim Huybrechts
Ricky Williams 6-5 Vincent Kamphuis
Raymond van Barneveld 6-3 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Matthew Dennant 6-5 Mark Walsh
Warrick Scheffer 6-3 Michael Smith
Stuart Kellett 6-5 Dirk van Duijvenbode
James WIlson 6-3 Brian Woods
Haruki Muramatsu 6-2 John Bowles
Dave Chisnall 6-0 Jamie Lewis
Mick McGowan 6-3 Terry Temple
Ronny Huybrechts 6-3 Steve Hine
Ricky Evans 6-3 Stephen Burton
Daryl Gurney 6-2 David Pallett
Ronnie Baxter 6-3 Matt Clark
Kyle Anderson 6-4 Jan Dekker
Kirk Shepherd 6-2 Mike de Decker
Mensur Suljovic 6-5 Peter Jaques
Richard North 6-4 Lee Bryant
Josh Payne 6-5 Adam Hunt
Martin Schindler 6-4 Devon Petersen
Cristo Reyes 6-3 Prakash Jiwa
Darren Johnson 6-1 Darron Brown
Mervyn King 6-0 Andy Jenkins
Peter Hudson 6-4 Joe Murnan
Benito van de Pas 6-3 John Norman Jnr
Rob Cross 6-4 Keegan Brown
Robert Thornton 6-1 Harry Robinson
Jamie Caven 6-1 Ted Evetts
Gerwyn Price 6-0 Jim Brown
Mickey Mansell 6-2 Mark Webster
Adrian Lewis 6-3 Scott Taylor
Steve Lennon 6-4 Berry van Peer
Vincent van der Voort 6-4 Ian White
Jimmy Hendriks 6-5 Jonathan Worsley
Jermaine Wattimena 6-4 Bryan de Hoog
James Richardson 6-5 Kevin Painter
Richie Corner 6-4 Jelle Klaasen
Ron Meulenkamp 6-3 Ryan Meikle
Chris Dobey 6-2 Aden Kirk
Maik Langendorf 6-3 Simon Preston
Craig Gilchrist 6-5 Simon Whitlock
John Michael 6-1 Andy Parsons
Justin Pipe 6-5 Colin Roelofs
Rowby-John Rodriguez 6-2 Ray Campbell
Joe Cullen 6-5 Yordi Meeuwisse
Robert Owen 6-5 Dimitri van den Bergh
Steve Beaton 6-2 William O’Connor
Madars Razma 6-4 Scott Darbyshire
Wayne Jones 6-1 Terry Roach
John Henderson 6-3 Mick Todd
Robbie Green 6-3 Steve West
Antonio Alcinas 6-4 Stephen Bunting
Alan Norris 6-1 Andy Hamilton
Jamie Bain 6-3 Chris Quantock
James Wade 6-3 Rob Hewson
Sven Groen 6-5 Mark Barilli
Paul Nicholson 6-3 Ricky Williams
Raymond van Barneveld 6-4 Matthew Dennant
Stuart Kellett 6-5 Warrick Scheffer
James Wilson 6-4 Haruki Muramatsu
Dave Chisnall 6-5 Mick McGowan
Ricky Evans 6-4 Ronny Huybrechts
Daryl Gurney 6-1 Ronnie Baxter
Kirk Shepherd 6-2 Kyle Anderson
Richard North 6-2 Mensur Suljovic
Josh Payne 6-3 Martin Schindler
Cristo Reyes 6-1 Darren Johnson
Mervyn King 6-3 Peter Hudson
Rob Cross 6-4 Benito van de Pas
Robert Thornton 6-1 Jamie Caven
Gerwyn Price 6-2 Mickey Mansell
Adrian Lewis 6-3 Steve Lennon
Jimmy Hendriks 6-5 Vincent van der Voort
James Richardson 6-4 Jermaine Wattimena
Richie Corner 6-2 Ron Meulenkamp
Maik Langendorf 6-2 Chris Dobey
John Michael 6-2 Craig Gilchrist
Rowby-John Rodriguez 6-3 Justin Pipe
Joe Cullen 6-3 Robert Owen
Steve Beaton 6-1 Madars Razma
Wayne Jones 6-2 John Henderson
Robbie Green 6-2 Antonio Alcinas
Alan Norris 6-0 Jamie Bain
James Wade 6-2 Sven Groen
Raymond van Barneveld 6-2 Paul Nicholson
Stuart Kellett 6-4 James Wilson
Dave Chisnall 6-4 Ricky Evans
Daryl Gurney 6-2 Kirk Shepherd
Josh Payne 6-4 Richard North
Mervyn King 6-4 Cristo Reyes
Robert Thornton 6-4 Rob Cross
Gerwyn Price 6-5 Adrian Lewis
James Richardson 6-5 Jimmy Hendriks
Richie Corner 6-4 Maik Langendorf
John Michael 6-3 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Joe Cullen 6-3 Steve Beaton
Robbie Green 6-2 Wayne Jones
James Wade 6-4 Alan Norris
Stuart Kellett 6-4 Raymond van Barneveld
Daryl Gurney 6-4 Dave Chisnall
Mervyn King 6-3 Josh Payne
Gerwyn Price 6-1 Robert Thornton
James Richardson 6-3 Richie Corner
Joe Cullen 6-3 John Michael
James Wade 6-0 Robbie Green
Daryl Gurney 6-4 Stuart Kellett
Mervyn King 6-4 Gerwyn Price
Joe Cullen 6-4 James Richardson
Daryl Gurney 6-4 James Wade
Joe Cullen 6-4 Mervyn King
Joe Cullen 6-5 Daryl Gurney