World Masters winner Adam Smith-Neale bravely bowed out of the BDO World Championship after playing through the pain barrier while nursing a broken leg, as Wayne Warren produced the performance of the tournament thus far to defeat his fellow Welshman Mark Layton on Sunday evening at Frimley Green.
However, the story of the evening saw Adam Smith-Neale make his World Championship debut in extraordinary circumstances, as he battled through the contest on a crutch having broken his leg at the Italian Masters in late November.
The 25-year-old stunned Glen Durrant to triumph at the World Masters in October, which saw him feature at this year’s Grand Slam of Darts. Nevertheless, his participation at the Lakeside was cast into serious doubt following his freak injury in Italy.
‘Big Dog’ limped to the stage and battled valiantly throughout, but he was beaten in nine straight legs by New Zealand qualifier Mark McGrath, who breezed through their preliminary round clash to set up a showdown against defending champion Durrant for a place in round-two.
McGrath averaged 81 and dispatched 50% of his attempts at double to round-off an emphatic win, as Smith-Neale averaged 66.54 and was unable to register a single dart at double. Nevertheless, he showed commendable heart and fighting qualities to simply complete the match given the circumstances.
How about this for commitment to darts from the Big Dog?🐕
— Eurosport UK (@Eurosport_UK) January 6, 2019
Speaking to Eurosport following his exit, Smith Neale admitted: “It’s very very painful. It’s hard just playing through the pain barrier itself, but I’m happy to be here. Four weeks ago I had a serious, major injury and the doctors told me I wouldn’t walk for six to eight weeks, so just being here is an achievement in itself.”
Wayne Warren produced the performance of the tournament thus far to defeat his fellow countryman Mark Layton 3-0 and set up a potential second-round tie against fifth seed Michael Unterbuchner. Warren averaged 97.71, piled in four maximums and boasted an impressive 50% checkout success rate to cap off a complete display.
Warren clinched a hard-fought opening set in a decider courtesy of a tidy 13-dart leg, before defying a 96 checkout from Layton to clinch the second set 3-1. The 56-year-old was looking extremely comfortable and he breezed through the third set without reply; registering legs of 16, 15 and 15 darts to seal the deal in style.
Elsewhere, eighth seed Richard Veenstra edged out Nigel Heydon in a pulsating sudden-death leg in the game of the tournament thus far. The Dutchman averaged 89.68, posted eight maximums and converted 57% of his attempts at double, as Heydon bowed out despite averaging 93.08 and crashing in six 180’s.
Veenstra raced to the opening set without reply, but Heydon won six of the next seven legs to move 2-1 ahead, with ‘Flyers’ posting an 11-darter midway through set three. However, the Finder Masters finalist responded superbly in the fourth; taking out a brilliant 140 finish to stop the rot and forcing a fifth and final set with legs of 12, 12 and 16 darts.
The Dutchman led 2-1 in the decider before Heydon sank a nerveless 96 finish to level and force a tie-break. Veenstra produced a stunning 12-darter to move 4-3 ahead, before leaving himself on tops after 12 darts in the following leg. Nevertheless, ‘The Undertaker’ dug deep and converted a skin-saving 132 checkout on the bull to prolong the contest.
Heydon pinned D8 to break Veenstra and throw for the match, but the Dutchman responded by rattling in a 13-dart leg to send the match to sudden-death, after Heydon missed one match dart at the bull. History repeated itself in the decider, as Heydon again spurned a match dart at the bullseye, before Veenstra returned to peg D16 to triumph in a marathon tussle.
Veenstra will now take on two-time world champion Scott Waites, who kicked off his bid for a third Lakeside title with a 3-1 victory over Belgian debutant Jeffrey van Egdom. Waites scored superbly and crashed in eight maximums, but he squandered an incredible 35 darts at double which saw him average a modest 86.55.
‘Scotty 2 Hotty’ sealed the opening set without reply, but Van Egdom punished Waites’ profligacy to level up proceedings at one set apiece, following up a 13-dart hold on tops with a clinical 83 kill. However, Waites’ dominance in the scoring department proved decisive, as he won the next two sets 3-1 to seal his progression into the second-round.
Krzysztof Kciuk defeated Brian Løkken 3-1 in a scrappy preliminary-round affair to set up a first-round tie against debutant Dave Parletti on Tuesday afternoon. The Polish star averaged 79.37, fired in four maximums and converted two ton-plus finishes as he triumphed in the clash of the Frimley Green debutants, taking out finishes of 160 and 119 to wrap up the opening set.
‘The Thumb’ then doubled his lead by taking out 69 on the bull, after Løkken had spurned three set darts moments earlier. The Danish thrower won a hard-fought third set to halve the deficit, but Kciuk recovered to seal the fourth set without reply; clinching the victory with a tidy 67 outshot to complete a 15-dart hold.
Roger Janssen will take on third seed Jim Williams in round-one after easing past Wouter Vaes in straight sets in the preliminary round. The Belgian averaged 82.44 and registered two maximums en route to an 3-0 emphatic victory, dropping just three legs after a profligate display from the Dutchman, who averaged just 78.68 in an error-strewn display.
In the women’s draw, Fallon Sherrock produced a magnificent display to defeat 2017 finalist Corrine Hammond in straight sets. Hammond did little wrong but ran into an inspired opponent, as Sherrock averaged 89.67, fired in two maximums and converted 60% of her attempts at double to prevail.
The sixth seed kicked off proceedings with a clinical 108 checkout, before posting maximums in each of the next two legs to seal the opening set in 15, 15 and 16 darts with a 98.02 average. The pair kicked off set two by exchanging 16-dart holds, before Sherrock followed up a crucial break of throw via D6 by converting a nerveless 68 kill on D8 to triumph inside 15 darts.
Sherrock will now face Maria O’Brien in the last eight, after O’Brien registered her first Lakeside win with a straight sets victory over third seed Deta Hedman. Hedman has won over 130 ranking titles in an extraordinary career, but the World Championship title continues to prove elusive for ‘The Heart of Darts’.
O’Brien defeated Hedman in the quarter-finals of the PDC Women’s World Championship qualifier in November and history repeated itself in a scrappy affair. Hedman averaged just 67.52 but still spurned darts to win both sets, as O’Brien prevailed with a 70.81 average to reach the quarter-finals.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC