Steve Beaton rolled back the years to clinch the third PDC Pro Tour title of his career with a stunning 6-3 victory over two-time world champion Gary Anderson at the Robin Park Tennis Centre in Wigan on Saturday afternoon.
The former Lakeside world champion performed superbly throughout the day to secure his first ranking title since winning the German Darts Masters in Sindelfingen in September 2013- and just his second ever Players Championship title.
‘The Bronzed Adonis’ enjoyed a stunning start to Saturday’s final; taking out a spectacular 125 checkout to seal the opener, before crashing in a 12-darter to double his lead. Anderson then missed a dart at the bullseye to open his account in the third leg, as Beaton pegged D16 to capitalise and extend his lead to 3-0.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ opened his account with a sublime 12-dart hold, but Beaton was unperturbed and defied a fourth maximum from Anderson to move 4-1 ahead thanks to a commanding 13-darter.
The pair then exchanged 15-dart holds as Beaton moved to the cusp of victory, but Anderson converted a crucial 68 kill for another 15-darter to reduce the deficit to 5-3. Nevertheless, ‘The Bronzed Adonis’ suffered no finishing line nerves, as he dispatched an effortless 82 checkout to clinch the £10,000 winner’s prize by virtue of a 12-dart hold.
The 53-year-old told PDC commentator Dan Dawson: “I fancied this today. I’ve been trying so hard this year and I’ve played really well today and I’m delighted to win. I went to bed last night thinking I want to be in the World Matchplay so hopefully this will take me a long way to getting there. Everyone wants to win but maybe I tried that bit harder today.”
Earlier in the day, Beaton had kicked off his campaign with an imperious whitewash victory over Matthew Dennant, before overcoming former World-Youth champion Keegan Brown in a hard-fought affair. Beaton then eased past Robert Owen 6-2, before producing a classy display to defeat world number six Dave Chisnall 6-4.
In the last eight, the 53-year-old faced 2008 World Championship finalist Kirk Shepherd, who performed impressively to seal £2,500 in prize money. Shepherd thrashed Mike De Decker and came through deciders against Cristo Reyes, Paul Harvey and Jamie Lewis to reach the quarters, but Beaton produced a stunning display to dismantle Shepherd 6-0.
This set up a semi-final clash against Rob Cross, who continued his magnificent floor form in Wigan. Cross dropped just ten legs in defeating Jan Dekker, Vincent Kamphuis, Mervyn King, Peter Wright and Robert Thornton to reach the last four, but he was denied a third Players Championship title of 2017 as Beaton prevailed 6-3.
On the other side of the draw, Anderson was in fine form to reach his fourth Players ionship final of 2017. The world number two came through a nerve-jangling deciding leg tussle in his opening game against Rowby-John Rodriguez, before easing past his protégé Adam Hunt 6-2 to reach round-three.
Anderson then came through another tough test against Harry Robinson in the last 32. Robinson had recorded consecutive whitewash victories over Steve West and Stephen Burton to storm into round-three, but the two-time world champion triumphed 6-4, before overcoming another protégé in the shape of Michael Smith to reach the last eight.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ then turned on the style to secure his place in the final with two emphatic victories. Anderson whitewashed his fellow Premier League star Kim Huybrechts 6-0, before thrashing Daryl Gurney 6-1 in the last four, after ‘Super-Chin’ had beaten the likes of Josh Payne, Darren Webster and Mensur Suljovic in previous rounds.
Anderson also performed superbly in the final, averaging 108.53 and crashing in four maximums. Nevertheless, it wasn’t sufficient to defeat an irrepressible Beaton, who averaged 107.09, piled in three maximums and converted 67% of his attempts at double, to round off arguably one of the greatest days in his PDC career.
James Wade’s indifferent Pro Tour form continues, as he suffered an opening round defeat to quick-fire Dutchman Jermaine Wattimena. Elsewhere, former Players Championship winners Alan Norris and Benito van de Pas were beaten at the same stage by Andy Jenkins and Richie Corner respectively.
Jelle Klaasen’s first Players Championship appearance since undergoing wrist surgery culminated in a second-round defeat to Tony Newell, whilst Ian White, Joe Cullen, Gerwyn Price and Stephen Bunting were also second-round casualties.
There were also a host of big names absent in Wigan. World number one Michael van Gerwen was a late withdrawal, whilst Adrian Lewis also missed out. Raymond van Barneveld will sit out Pro Tour action until August, whilst 16-time world champion Phil Taylor continues to scale down his commitments ahead of his impending retirement.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Players Championship 13