Jonny Clayton clinched his first PDC title with a spectacular 6-1 victory over former BDO number one James Wilson in the final Players Championship event of the year at the Barnsley Metrodome on Wednesday evening.
The Welshman saw off a host of big names en route to pocketing the £10,000 winner’s prize- to become the fifteenth different winner from the 22 Players Championship events held this year.
‘The Ferret’ averaged 98.62, posted four maximums, dispatched three ton-plus checkouts and converted 55% of his attempts at double to stun Wilson- reeling off five successive legs to cap off the biggest win of his PDC career.
Clayton drew first blood in the final after following up his first maximum by hitting D8, but Wilson levelled proceedings with a clinical 84 kill for an 11-dart hold, after the pair traded maximums earlier in the leg.
The Welshman then regained the initiative with a dominant 15-dart hold, before pegging a fine 120 finish to claim a crucial break of throw. Wilson was afforded an instant opportunity to break back, but spurned two darts at double, before ‘The Ferret’ crashed in a nerveless 102 checkout to extend his cushion to 4-1.
The 43-year-old was brimming with confidence and moved to the brink of victory by following his third maximum with an effortless two-dart 84 outshot. The pair then kicked off the seventh leg with maximums, but Clayton showed no signs of finishing line nerves- pegging a sublime 121 finish on the bull to seal his first ever PDC title
Earlier in the day, Clayton kicked off proceedings with a comfortable win over John Norman Jr, before booking his spot in round-three by defeating Terry Jenkins, who was appearing in his last ever Players Championship event. It was a high-quality affair, with the Welshman averaging 95.35 and converting 55% of his doubles to prevail 6-4.
‘The Ferret’ then took on Tuesday’s winner and third seed Rob Cross in round-three, with ‘Voltage’ looking for a fifth Players Championship title in what’s been an incredible debut season. However, he was denied by an inspired Clayton, who prevailed in a deciding-leg thriller.
The 43-year-old then edged out Darren Webster in another last-leg shootout, surviving a match dart and sealing victory with a nerveless 102 finish. This set up a quarter-final showdown against rejuvenated Spaniard Antonio Alcinas, but for the third straight round, the Welshman triumphed by virtue of an eleventh and deciding leg.
In the last-four, Clayton took on young Dutch star Jeffrey de Zwaan, who returned to form with a bang in Barnsley. ‘The Black Cobra’ defeated Dave Chisnall and Terry Jenkins to reach the last 16 of yesterday’s event, and followed that up with wins over Stephen Bunting, Michael Smith and Richard North to seal a semi-final spot today.
Both men were vying to secure a spot in their first PDC Pro Tour final and the man from Pontyberem stormed into a 5-1 lead. De Zwaan fought back valiantly; reeling off three straight legs to reduce the arrears to 5-4, but Clayton held his nerve to triumph with a 93.62 average and a 42% checkout success rate to reach his maiden PDC final.
On the other side of the draw, James Wilson returned to form to reach his second PDC final- his first in just over twelve months. ‘The Jammie Dodger’ began his campaign with successive 6-3 victories over the Dutch duo of Berry van Peer and Dirk van Duijvenbode, to set up a third-round tie against former World Championship finalist Andy Hamilton.
‘The Hammer’ had dumped out new world number two Peter Wright in the preceding round, but Wilson recorded his third straight 6-3 win of the afternoon to defeat the Stoke-on-Trent star, before thrashing the veteran Andy Jenkins 6-2 to cruise through to the quarter-finals.
The former BDO star then faced Ron Meulenkamp in the last eight. Wilson stormed into a 3-0 lead, but the Dutchman then won five of the next six legs to seize control. Nevertheless, the left-hander missed five match darts across two legs as ‘The Jammie Dodger’ lived up to his nickname to sneak through.
In the last-four, Wilson faced Jamie Caven, who clinched a spot at next month’s Players Championship Finals after enjoying his best Pro Tour run for over 18 months. ‘Jabba’ defeated the likes of Daryl Gurney, Adrian Lewis and John Henderson to reach the semi-finals, but his hopes of winning an eighth PDC title were dashed, as Wilson prevailed 6-3.
It was a day of shocks in Barnsley, as a number of big names were condemned to early exits. World Grand Prix finalist Simon Whitlock was beaten in round-one for the second day in succession after losing to Matt Clark, whilst James Wade, Jelle Klaasen, Kim Huybrechts, Gerwyn Price and Joe Cullen were all beaten at the first hurdle.
Top seed Peter Wright also suffered defeat in his opening match. Snakebite received a bye through to round-two, where he was edged out in a deciding-leg by former world finalist Andy Hamilton. Elsewhere, last week’s World Grand Prix winner Daryl Gurney was beaten at the same stage by a resurgent Jamie Caven.
Dave Chisnall, Robert Thornton and Stephen Bunting were also condemned to second-round exits, as was nine-time major finalist Terry Jenkins, who marked his final ever Players Championship appearance with a 6-4 defeat to eventual winner Jonny Clayton, who also dumped out Rob Cross en route to glory.
Brazil’s Diogo Portela claimed some notable scalps to record his best run in a PDC Pro Tour event. Portela, who has already sealed his qualification for this year’s World Championships, defeated Jelle Klaasen, Aden Kirk and Vincent van der Voort to reach the last 16, after Van der Voort kicked off his campaign with consecutive whitewash wins.
Finally, Antonio Alcinas confirmed his qualification for the Players Championship Finals at the expense of former World Championship finalist Kirk Shepherd. Alcinas reached his first PDC semi-final for six years last month, before reaching the quarter-finals of today’s action, beating Richie Burnett, Benito van de Pas & Jan Dekker en route.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Players Championship 22
Jonny Clayton 6-1 James Wilson