Gerwyn Price clinched his maiden European Tour title after demolishing Simon Whitlock 8-3 to win the International Darts Open on a dramatic day of darts in Riesa on Sunday evening.
‘The Iceman’ had lost in the final of the Austrian Darts Open in April and has since undergone surgery for a ruptured Achilles tendon, but he returned to form in style this weekend; easing past a below-par Whitlock to secure the £25,000 winner’s prize in the penultimate European Tour event of the season.
The Australian opened up an early lead yet struggled for consistency throughout and Price grew into the contest; reeling off six consecutive legs to prevail in emphatic fashion. The Welshman averaged an impressive 98.26, fired in two maximums and converted 53% of his attempts at double, with Whitlock averaging a miserly 88.50.
‘The Wizard’ was appearing in his fifth European Tour final and drew first blood on D9 after Price missed one dart at D5 to hold. However, last year’s UK Open finalist levelled with a 14-darter on D12 and secured the lead with a clinical two-dart 72 kill.
Whitlock responded by landing his second maximum and taking out 99 on D16 for a 12-dart riposte, before following up visits of 180 and 171 by pinning D12 with his last dart in hand for a 3-2 cushion. Despite this, the topsy-turvy nature of the contest continued, as Price found D5 to break back, with only two of the opening six legs going with throw.
The contest appeared to have all the makings of a tight affair, but Whitlock’s scoring power suddenly disintegrated and Price duly capitalised. The Welshman nailed tops for a routine 17-dart hold, before rounding off his third straight leg with an effortless 72 finish, after Whitlock missed two darts at D18 to level at four apiece.
This proved decisive, as the Australian didn’t register a dart at double for the remainder of the contest. Price sank D10 for a 15-dart hold to extend his lead to 6-3, before following up his first maximum with a clinical 76 finish and a 12-dart hold.
This moved him to within a leg of victory and there were no finishing line nerves for this year’s Premier League debutant. He fired in his second maximum in as many legs to leave himself on 96 after nine darts, before nailing D4 to round-off victory with a classy 13-darter.
This was Price’s first PDC ranking title since May 2016 and the Welsh ace proudly reflected: “The leg doesn’t bother me, I’m still playing well. I’m thrilled to win this tournament. Every tournament you turn up and expect to win, thankfully I did today.”
With Michael van Gerwen, Rob Cross, Gary Anderson and Michael Smith not featuring this weekend, there was a real sense of unpredictability about this event, which was only heightened following the shock second-round departure of top seed Peter Wright.
Price performed superbly throughout the tournament to secure a spot in his second European Tour final of 2018. However, his progression was far from serene; as he battled through two gripping last-leg deciders on an eventful Finals Day in Riesa.
‘The Iceman’ took on World Grand Prix champion Daryl Gurney on Sunday afternoon and almost relinquished a 5-2 advantage. ‘Super-Chin’ took out a stunning 144 finish to launch the fightback, before squandering three match darts in a nail-biting final leg, as Price edged through with a 92.70 average to maintain his superb record over Gurney.
In the quarter-finals, the Welshman locked horns with Ryan Searle, who followed up his victory over top seed Peter Wright by defeating home favourite Martin Schindler on Sunday afternoon. However, Price was in rampant form; averaging 101.63, landing two maximums and boasting a 38% checkout success rate to ease through.
This set up a semi-final tie against Steve West, who had dumped out Michael Plooy, Mervyn King, Jonny Clayton and Adrian Lewis en route to reaching the last four, and West and Price contested a thrilling last-four tussle.
There were just two breaks of throw throughout the entire contest, and they came in successive legs. Price had established a 4-2 cushion until West hit back immediately, but the advantage of throw proved decisive for the Welshman. West had one match dart yet couldn’t capitalise, as Price prevailed with a 92.81 average and 50% on the doubles.
Whitlock had kicked off Sunday’s proceedings with an impressive 6-3 victory over Steve Beaton, who dumped out home favourite Max Hopp in the previous round. However, ‘The Wizard’ was in magical form; averaging 102.41, firing in SIX maximums and converting 66% of his attempts at double to cap off a sublime display.
This set up a quarter-final showdown against James Richardson, who stunned recent Dutch Darts Champion Ian White earlier in the afternoon. ‘Ruthless’ also give Whitlock an almighty scare, as the Australian survived three match darts before prevailing in a gripping decider, albeit with a modest 88.11 average.
Whitlock then faced emerging Dutch star Danny Noppert in the last four, with ‘Noppie’ having dumped out the decorated quartet of Robert Thornton, Jermaine Wattimena, Mensur Suljovic and Darren Webster to reach his first ever European Tour semi-final.
Nevertheless, Noppert was left to rue a profligate display in the semi-finals as Whitlock romped to a 7-2 victory. The two-time world finalist averaged 94.72, crashed in five maximums and converted 39% of his attempts at double to clinch his spot in the final, with the Dutchman spurning seven of his nine darts at a double.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Sunday September 16
Afternoon Session (1pm local time, 12pm BST)
James Richardson 6-4 Ian White
Simon Whitlock 6-3 Steve Beaton
Darren Webster 6-5 Joe Cullen
Danny Noppert 6-4 Mensur Suljovic
Steve West 6-5 Jonny Clayton
Adrian Lewis 6-2 Stephen Bunting
Gerwyn Price 6-5 Daryl Gurney
Ryan Searle 6-3 Martin Schindler
Evening Session (7.15pm local time, 6.15pm BST)
Simon Whitlock 6-5 James Richardson
Danny Noppert 6-5 Darren Webster
Steve West 6-4 Adrian Lewis
Gerwyn Price 6-2 Ryan Searle
Simon Whitlock 7-2 Danny Noppert
Gerwyn Price 7-6 Steve West
Gerwyn Price 8-3 Simon Whitlock