Rob Cross continued his remarkable rise on the PDC circuit, edging out Ian White in a nerve-jangling deciding leg to seal his second Players Championship title of 2017 at the Arena MK in Milton Keynes on Sunday afternoon.
Cross joined the professional circuit in January, after enjoying a successful year on the Challenge Tour and sealed his maiden Pro Tour title in March. The former electrician has also reached three successive European Tour quarter-finals and followed up yesterday’s run to the semi-final by scooping the £10,000 winner’s cheque.
Cross was defeated by an inspired Peter Wright in the semi-finals of Saturday’s event, despite averaging 109.20. Nevertheless, he rounded off a magnificent weekend by edging out Ian White to clinch Sunday’s title; surviving five match darts and prevailing with a 95.42 average and four maximums.
Cross drew first blood in the final with an instant break of throw, after White spurned two darts at double to hold. However, he delivered a fine riposte; levelling via D7 inside 13 darts, before capitalising on missed doubles from his opponent to secure the lead via D5.
Despite this, the former electrician responded magnificently. He piled in successive maximums to draw level with a 14-darter, before landing a third maximum in the following leg, to leave 83 after nine darts. Yet incredibly, he wasn’t afforded a shot, as White converted a sensational 121 checkout on D14 for a 12-dart hold.
Cross restored parity once more after pegging D9, but White regained the initiative moments later; following up his first maximum with a clinical 122 kill on the bullseye to lead 4-3. Cross landed his fourth 180 and picked out D10 to level at four apiece, but White remained defiant; dispatching D8 for a 14-darter to move to within a leg of victory.
‘The Diamond’ appeared on the cusp of sealing his first ranking title of 2017, until a dramatic conclusion ensued. Cross forced a decider with a nerveless 76 kill after White had missed a match dart at the bull, before the Stoke star spurned another four match darts in a tense final leg, as Cross held his nerve to sink D18 and round off victory.
The 27-year-old told the PDC’s Dan Dawson: “I’m enjoying it and I’m over the moon. It was a nervy final and I got lucky. I felt a lot of fatigue after the semi-final, it was like I emptied the tank on that one game. I believe I can get better – I’ve seen better things on the practice board too and you’re trying to creep out a little bit more every week and keep progressing.
“I think I’ve exceeded the expectations I personally had. My goals were to try and make every TV major and keep going from there really, so now I’ll have new goals. Before today it would have been finishing in the top 32 at the end of the year, trying to get up there. When you’re putting yourself in these positions, you’re learning all the time.
“It’s hard to keep calm under the pressure, but the more I put myself here I believe I’m going to get better, so I want to keep experiencing it. It comes a little bit naturally but you’ve just got to bear with it really, it’s not easy and the players are all fantastic,” Cross added.
The Hastings ace had kicked off Sunday’s proceedings with a hard-fought win over former World-Youth champion Max Hopp, before thrashing Tony Newell 6-1 to reach his board final. Cross faced James Wade in the third-round, but recorded an emphatic 6-2 victory over the eight-time major winner to breeze into the last 16.
Cross then produced a fine comeback to stun second seed Mensur Suljovic. Suljovic moved into an early 3-1 advantage, but Cross won five of the remaining six legs to triumph with a 101.08 average, as ‘The Gentle’ was dumped out despite registering four maximums and averaging 104.13.
Cross’ magnificent form continued, as he stormed into the last four after producing a majestic display to dismantle Darren Webster 6-1. ‘The Demolition Man’ had beaten Dave Chisnall and Daryl Gurney earlier in the day, but he was unable to overcome the irrepressible Hastings star.
In the semi-finals, Cross took on Kim Huybrechts, who defeated Josh Payne, Wes Newton, Peter Jacques, Joe Cullen and Simon Whitlock to reach his third Players Championship semi final of the year. Nevertheless, ‘The Hurricane’ was blown away by Cross, who averaged 112.36 and converted 75% of his double attempts to storm into the final.
White’s campaign began with a nervy deciding-leg win against Stephen Burton, before he recorded successive 6-1 victories over Ross Twell and Ronny Huybrechts to seal a spot in the last 16. ‘The Diamond’ then emerged victorious from his second deciding-leg tussle of the afternoon; edging out an impressive Richard North.
In the last eight, White faced top seed Peter Wright, who was vying to complete the double in Milton Keynes after his victory on Saturday. Snakebite had dropped just four legs in reaching the quarter-finals, but White produced a classy performance to stun the Scot, averaging 102.41, landing a sublime 164 finish and converting 50% of his doubles.
In the semi-finals, the Stoke-on-Trent star faced James Wilson, who claimed victories against Diogo Portela, Bryan de Hoog, Andy Boulton, Justin Pipe and Jonny Clayton to record his best performance on the PDC circuit in 2017, but White was too strong for ‘The Jammie Dodger’; rounding off a clinical display to complete a convincing 6-3 triumph.
However, it was also a fine weekend for Jonny Clayton, who Wilson defeated in the last eight. The diminutive Welshman claimed the scalp of Benito van de Pas earlier in the day en route to recording successive Pro Tour quarter-finals for the first time in his career.
Simon Whitlock also registered back-to-back quarter-final appearances in Milton Keynes. ‘The Wizard’ picked up a total of £4,500 in prize money across the weekend, before succumbing to Daryl Gurney and Kim Huybrechts in his respective last-eight clashes.
Nevertheless, it was a disappointing day for a number of other big names. Former Lakeside world champion Stephen Bunting was whitewashed in the opening round by an inspired Vincent van der Voort, whilst Cristo Reyes, Steve West, Steve Beaton, Kyle Anderson, Robbie Green and Dimitri van den Bergh also fell at the first hurdle.
Two-time world champion Adrian Lewis was thrashed 6-1 in the second-round by Northern Ireland’s Mickey Mansell, as James Wade, Dave Chisnall, Benito van de Pas and Robert Thornton suffered third-round exits. However, Chisnall landed a stunning nine-dart finish in his board final against Darren Webster; albeit in a losing cause.
Photo Credit: DG Media|PDC Europe
Players Championship 12
Sunday May 21, Arena MK, Milton Keynes
Peter Wright (1) Bye
Brendan Dolan 6-3 Matt Clark
Andy Hamilton 6-2 Dimitri Van den Bergh (32)
Richie Burnett 6-4 Alan Tabern
Keegan Brown 6-4 Steve West (16)
Berry van Peer 6-3 Dennis Smith
Mark Webster 6-4 Steve Beaton (17)
John Michael 6-1 Ritchie Edhouse
Alan Norris (8) 6-0 Simon Preston
Wayne Jones 6-2 Ricky Williams
Chris Dobey (25) 6-3 Jeffrey de Graaf
Richard North 6-1 Brian Woods
Ian White (9) 6-5 Stephen Burton
Ross Twell 6-4 John Part
Ronny Huybrechts 6-3 Terry Roach
Yordi Meeuwisse 6-5 Jim Brown
Michael Smith (5) 6-0 Martin Schindler
Ron Meulenkamp 6-4 Darren Johnson
Justin Pipe (28) 6-1 Matthew Dennant
John Bowles 6-4 Steve Hine
Vincent van der Voort 6-0 Stephen Bunting (12)
Andy Boulton 6-1 Robert Owen
James Wilson (21) 6-1 Diogo Portela
Bryan de Hoog 6-2 Luke Woodhouse
Benito van de Pas (4) Bye
Paul Rowley 6-2 Richie Corner
Jonny Clayton (29) 6-5 Vincent Kamphuis
Michael Barnard 6-3 Terry Temple
Zoran Lerchbacher 6-5 Cristo Reyes (13)
Jimmy Hendriks 6-2 Mike De Decker
Adrian Lewis (20) 6-2 Michael Rasztovits
Mickey Mansell 6-2 Simon Stevenson
Mensur Suljovic (2) Bye
Ryan Palmer 6-5 Sven Groen
Jermaine Wattimena (31) 6-3 Prakash Jiwa
Antonio Alcinas 6-2 Chris Quantock
James Wade (15) 6-2 Ryan Searle
Scott Taylor 6-3 Mark Walsh
Rob Cross (18) 6-4 Max Hopp
Tony Newell 6-5 Ted Evetts
Dave Chisnall (7) 6-1 Jan Dekker
Jamie Caven 6-4 Stuart Kellett
Darren Webster (26) 6-3 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Mick Todd 6-5 Jamie Bain
Daryl Gurney (10) 6-2 James Richardson
Aden Kirk 6-3 Jonathan Worsley
Robert Thornton (23) 6-5 Nathan Aspinall
Craig Gilchrist 6-5 Andy Jenkins
Kim Huybrechts (6) 6-2 Josh Payne
Wes Newton 6-4 Kevin Painter
Joe Murnan 6-5 Robbie Green (27)
Peter Jacques 6-1 John Norman Jnr
Joe Cullen (11) 6-5 Harry Robinson
Darron Brown 6-5 Ryan Meikle
Christian Kist (22) 6-2 Kirk Shepherd
Devon Petersen 6-5 Peter Hudson
Simon Whitlock (3) Bye
Ricky Evans 6-1 Scott Darbyshire
John Henderson (30) 6-5 Mark Barilli
David Pallett 6-2 Matthew Edgar
Mervyn King (14) 6-0 Jamie Lewis
Steve Lennon 6-4 Andrew Gilding
Paul Harvey 6-4 Kyle Anderson (19)
William O’Connor 6-1 Ronnie Baxter
Peter Wright 6-0 Brendan Dolan
Andy Hamilton 6-4 Richie Burnett
Keegan Brown 6-1 Berry van Peer
John Michael 6-2 Mark Webster
Alan Norris 6-4 Wayne Jones
Richard North 6-3 Chris Dobey
Ian White 6-1 Ross Twell
Ronny Huybrechts 6-2 Yordi Meeuwisse
Michael Smith 6-4 Ron Meulenkamp
Justin Pipe 6-1 John Bowles
Andy Boulton 6-4 Vincent van der Voort
James Wilson 6-2 Bryan de Hoog
Benito van de Pas 6-5 Paul Rowley
Jonny Clayton 6-1 Michael Barnard
Zoran Lerchbacher 6-1 Jimmy Hendriks
Mickey Mansell 6-1 Adrian Lewis
Mensur Suljovic 6-4 Ryan Palmer
Antonio Alcinas 6-5 Jermaine Wattimena
James Wade 6-4 Scott Taylor
Rob Cross 6-1 Tony Newell
Dave Chisnall 6-0 Jamie Caven
Darren Webster 6-2 Mick Todd
Daryl Gurney 6-5 Aden Kirk
Robert Thornton 6-4 Craig Gilchrist
Kim Huybrechts 6-1 Wes Newton
Peter Jacques 6-2 Joe Murnan
Joe Cullen 6-0 Darron Brown
Christian Kist 6-5 Devon Petersen
Simon Whitlock 6-4 Ricky Evans
David Pallett 6-5 John Henderson
Steve Lennon 6-2 Mervyn King
William O’Connor 6-4 Paul Harvey
Peter Wright 6-2 Andy Hamilton
Keegan Brown 6-2 John Michael
Richard North 6-2 Alan Norris
Ian White 6-1 Ronny Huybrechts
Justin Pipe 6-1 Michael Smith
James Wilson 6-2 Andy Boulton
Jonny Clayton 6-3 Benito van de Pas
Mickey Mansell 6-5 Zoran Lerchbacher
Mensur Suljovic 6-3 Antonio Alcinas
Rob Cross 6-2 James Wade
Darren Webster 6-3 Dave Chisnall – Dave Chisnall hits nine-dart finish
Daryl Gurney 6-3 Robert Thornton
Kim Huybrechts 6-5 Peter Jacques
Joe Cullen 6-5 Christian Kist
Simon Whitlock 6-2 David Pallett
Steve Lennon 6-5 William O’Connor
Peter Wright 6-2 Keegan Brown
Ian White 6-5 Richard North
James Wilson 6-1 Justin Pipe
Jonny Clayton 6-3 Mickey Mansell
Rob Cross 6-4 Mensur Suljovic
Darren Webster 6-5 Daryl Gurney
Kim Huybrechts 6-5 Joe Cullen
Simon Whitlock 6-5 Steve Lennon
Ian White 6-3 Peter Wright
James Wilson 6-2 Jonny Clayton
Rob Cross 6-1 Darren Webster
Kim Huybrechts 6-3 Simon Whitlock
Ian White 6-3 James Wilson
Rob Cross 6-1 Kim Huybrechts
Rob Cross 6-5 Ian White
Last 16 £1,500
Last 32 £1,000
Last 64 £500