Michael van Gerwen continued his unbeaten start to 2018 to triumph in the second UK Open qualifier and clinch the 100th senior singles title of his PDC career on another dramatic day of action on Saturday evening.
‘The Green Machine’ dominated in Wigan to scoop the £10,000 winner’s prize for the second day in succession, but it was also a day which saw nine-darters hit by Robbie Green and Ian White.
Yet the main story saw Van Gerwen claim his third title of the year by defeating Norfolk ace Darren Webster in the final. ‘Mighty Mike’ ran out a 6-3 winner, averaging 98.30 to Webster’s 101.30. However, the match wasn’t without controversy.
Midway through the fifth leg, Van Gerwen questioned a decision from the referee with regards to counting a dart which he believed fell out of the treble 20 prior to Webster retrieving it. Despite this, the decision was upheld after the tournament director Keith Bisby sided with the referee.
Webster drew first blood in the final after following up an early maximum with a majestic 11-darter, but Van Gerwen restored parity in spectacular fashion; crashing in a 136 checkout. The Dutchman then took out a fine 87 finish for a 12-dart leg, but ‘The Demolition Man’ hit back via D8 to level up proceedings at two apiece.
‘Mighty Mike’ regained the lead with a 15-darter in the controversial fifth leg, before dispatching a two-dart 84 combination to establish a 4-2 cushion. Van Gerwen then converted a clinical 70 kill to move to the cusp of victory, and although Webster stopped the rot with a 13-darter via D5, MvG took out an effortless 106 checkout to seal the title.
Earlier in the day, the world number one kicked off his campaign in style; averaging 103 to dispatch Ross Twell 6-1. He then defeated World Youth Champion Dimitri van den Bergh 6-3 in a high-quality affair; averaging 104.80 to Van den Bergh’s 101.40.
The 28-year-old dropped just three legs in easing past Rene Berndt and Ricky Evans respectively to reach the last eight, where he later took on Richard North. It was a high-quality contest, but the Boxtel ace prevailed 6-4; averaging 106.70 and landing three maximums to set up a semi-final showdown against world number two Peter Wright.
‘Snakebite’ defeated Daniel Ayres, Jermaine Wattimena, Jamie Lewis, Jamie Hughes and Mervyn King 6-2 to reach the last-four for the second consecutive day, but he was unable to topple ‘The Green Machine’. It was a relatively scrappy affair, but Van Gerwen recorded a 6-4 win with a magnificent 160 checkout.
Darren Webster was unable to prevent Van Gerwen from winning his 19th successive game in a matter of just eight days, but he performed superbly throughout the event to reach his first PDC ranking final since July.
‘The Demolition Man’ kicked off his campaign with a comprehensive 6-1 win over Adam Smith-Neale, before claiming convincing wins over Jan Dekker and Brazilian ace Diogo Portela to secure a spot in the last 16.
The 49-year-old then edged out Alan Norris in a nervy last-leg decider, before seeing off Justin Pipe 6-4 to set up a semi-final tussle against nine-dart hero Ian White. ‘The Diamond’ piled in a perfect nine-dart leg in the deciding leg of his last 16 clash against Daryl Gurney, following up back-to-back 180’s with a sublime 141 finish.
However, White’s heroics were not enough to overcome an inspired Webster in a high-quality last four tussle. The recent World Championship quarter-finalist averaged 107 to close out a 6-4 win; recording legs of 13, 13, 12, 15, 15 and 13 darts to book his place in the final.
However, White wasn’t the only player to register a perfect leg on Saturday. Robbie Green produced the first nine-darter of the PDC season in his last 128 clash against Lee Harris- which he won 6-2. Despite this, ‘Kong’ was beaten 6-2 in the next-round by Spanish star Cristo Reyes.
Elsewhere, Rob Cross and Raymond van Barneveld were condemned to opening-round defeats for the second day in succession. World champion Cross lost out 6-3 to former BDO star Jamie Hughes, despite averaging 105.30.
Meanwhile, Van Barneveld was beaten by World Masters winner Krzysztof Ratajski for the second consecutive day. ‘The Polish Eagle’ edged out Van Barneveld 6-5 on Friday and produced another terrific performance to defeat the five-time world champion, averaging 100.60 to round-off a 6-2 victory.
Dave Chisnall also suffered a second straight first-round defeat against Ron Meulenkamp, whilst Benito van de Pas’ struggles continue. He averaged 70 in his opening-round exit on Friday, before succumbing 6-1 to Mickey Mansell with a 69 average on Saturday afternoon.
The full list of results from today’s second UK Open qualifier in Wigan can be viewed via the following link: https://www.pdc.tv/node/7672
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC