Gary Anderson defied his injury woes to secure his place in next month’s UK Open with victory in qualifier four on Friday, defeating Jeffrey de Zwaan 6-2 in the final at the Robin Park Tennis Centre in Wigan.
‘The Flying Scotsman’ pulled out of last week’s triple-header due to his ongoing back problem, but he marked his first Pro Tour appearance of 2018 in some style- scooping the £10,000 winner’s prize to confirm his spot at next month’s event in Minehead.
De Zwaan performed superbly to reach his first senior PDC final, but he was unable to halt a rampant Anderson, who averaged exactly 100, posted the solitary maximum and converted 50% of his attempts at double to secure his first title of the new season.
The two-time world champion drew first blood with a 14-dart break of throw, before registering back-to-back 11-dart legs to establish a commanding 3-0 cushion with an incredible 125 average.
The relentless Scot pinned D8 to extend his lead to 4-0, but De Zwaan averted any fears of a whitewash by rounding-off a 13-dart hold on D8. However, this didn’t deter Anderson, who moved to the cusp of victory via his favoured tops.
De Zwaan doubled his tally with a clinical 102 checkout to keep his slender hopes alive, but this simply delayed the inevitable. The Dutchman piled in back-to-back 140’s to leave 42 after just 12 darts, but Anderson dispatched an effortless 102 finish of his own to cap off a remarkable performance- particularly considering his back problem.
Earlier in the day, the Scot kicked off his campaign with a comprehensive 6-1 win over Polish star Tytus Kanik, before recording consecutive 6-3 wins over Martin Schindler and Richie Corner respectively to book his spot in the last 16.
Anderson then eased through to the last eight with a convincing victory over Steve West, to set up a quarter-final showdown against James Wade. Wade had come through three last-leg deciders against Diogo Portela, Danny Noppert & Andrew Gilding earlier in the day, but Anderson ran out a 6-4 winner with a 100.90 average.
In the last four, the two-time world champion then faced world champion Rob Cross, who returned to form emphatically in Wigan. ‘Voltage’ was coming into this event on the back of six consecutive defeats and was in danger of missing out on the UK Open, but he rectified matters after producing a string of sublime performances on Friday afternoon.
Cross halted his losing run by beating Christopher Bent, before averaging an astonishing 114 to defeat Mike De Decker. The former electrician then defeated Dimitri van den Bergh, Robert Thornton and Krzysztof Ratajski, before contesting a stunning semi-final showdown against the Scot.
The pair fired in 13 maximums in just 11 legs of darts, with Cross averaging 100.10 to Anderson’s 101.90. ‘Voltage’ crashed in two maximums in a spectacular last-leg decider but spurned two match darts at tops, as Anderson converted a nerveless 64 kill to book his spot in the final courtesy of a 12-dart break of throw.
On the other side of the draw, De Zwaan had to display incredible brinkmanship to come through a sensational first-round tie against Jan Dekker. Dekker averaged 112 but incredibly lost out to his fellow countryman, and this proved to be the perfect launch-pad for ‘The Black Cobra’.
De Zwaan averaged 102.70 to edge out Nathan Treadgold in another deciding-leg, before producing a fine display to dump out Premier League star Daryl Gurney- averaging 98.80 and landing a majestic 151 finish to seal a 6-3 win.
The 21-year-old Dutchman then brushed aside Matthew Edgar by the same scoreline, before producing another ton-plus average to defeat Steve Beaton in his third last-leg decider of the day. This set up a quarter-final tussle against World Championship semi-finalist Jamie Lewis, but De Zwaan was lethal; storming to victory with a 103.50 average.
In the semi-finals, Jeffrey faced surprise package Jason Lowe, who recorded his best ever showing in a PDC event. Lowe defeated Mario Robbe, Michael Rasztovits, John Henderson, Keegan Brown, Nathan Rafferty and a returning Adrian Lewis to reach the last-four, before losing out 6-4 to the Dutchman in a gruelling battle.
Adrian Lewis marked his return to action by reaching the last eight. ‘Jackpot’ reached the semi-finals of the opening qualifier before he was suspended with immediate effect following his altercation with Jose Antonio Perales, but ‘Jackpot’ produced some terrific darts to ensure he will enter the UK Open at the third-round stage.
Elsewhere, five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld sealed his spot in Minehead after reaching the last 16. The two-time UK Open winner recorded three successive 6-1 wins against Michael Dawson, Jason Cullen and Gerwyn Price, before succumbing 6-4 to Adrian Lewis in a high-quality affair.
2014 UK Open finalist Terry Jenkins was another big-name to confirm his qualification on Friday. The nine-time major finalist defeated Shayne Burgess, Jon Jukes and whitewashed Jamie Caven to reach the last 32, having already accrued £500 in prize money from the opening three qualifiers last weekend.
Three-time world champion John Part is also in line to make his first UK Open appearance since 2015. ‘Darth Maple’ claimed victories over Bradley Brooks, George Killington and Dave Ladley to reach the last 32, before losing 6-2 to Andrew Gilding. However, Part still needs another £250 to guarantee his spot in Minehead.
Nevertheless, there were a number of early high-profile casualties in Wigan. Peter Wright, fresh from his Premier League win over Michael van Gerwen, suffered a shock opening-round defeat to Michael Barnard. Meanwhile, current league leader Simon Whitlock was beaten at the same stage by Adam Huckvale.
Former Lakeside world champions Stephen Bunting and Mark Webster suffered opening-round defeats against Kevin Garcia and Dave Ladley respectively, whilst Kyle Anderson, Darren Webster and Justin Pipe were also beaten at the first hurdle.
In other news, Peter Jacques landed the fourth nine-darter of this year’s UK Open qualification campaign in his first-round victory over Marko Kantele. The Huddersfield ace went on to reach the last 64, where he lost out 6-3 to Kevin Garcia. The full list of results can be viewed via the following link: https://www.pdc.tv/node/7674
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC