Teenage sensation Leighton Bennett produced a dazzling display to defeat Nathan Girvan 3-0 and clinch BDO World Youth Championship glory on his televised debut at Lakeside on Thursday afternoon.
Bennett, aged 13, became the youngest ever winner of a BDO World Youth Championship title- sealing the victory with a majestic 121 outshot on the bullseye, which sparked jubilant scenes of celebration from the youngster.
The Lincoln teenager rose to prominence after winning the Cambridgeshire Open in August, beating PDC star Ricky Evans en route to glory and scooping £1,000 in the process. However, he underlined his quality once again with a superb debut on the Lakeside stage to deny Girvan in his second World Youth Final.
The 16-year-old lost out to Dutch star Justin van Tergouw in the 2017 final and he was once again rendered helpless against an inspired opponent, as Bennett averaged 86.65, fired in two maximums and converted 38% of his attempts at double to record a sublime straight sets triumph.
Girvan broke throw in the third leg of the contest to seize the early initiative, but ‘Boom Boom’ responded immediately, posting his first maximum and sinking D4 to level, before clinching the first set with a 16-dart hold on D16.
The 13-year-old wonderkid then dispatched finishes of 83 and 76 to double his lead in sets, before closing out victory in sensational style. Leading 2-1 in the third set, Bennett piled in a brilliant 121 checkout on the bullseye to complete the victory, as he leapt across the Lakeside stage in delight.
Reflecting on his record-breaking triumph, Bennett said: “Absolutely awesome, it’s a dream come true, I’ve put the work in and it’s paid off. I knew I was going to be up against a tough player, but I knew if I played my A-game I could do it, and I did. I just wanted to put on a top performance in front of everyone and it was brilliant.”
In the men’s draw, defending champion Glen Durrant continued his bid for a third consecutive BDO World Championship crown after fending off an inspired comeback from Scott Baker to triumph in a dramatic seven-set tussle. ‘Duzza’ averaged 95.92, crashed in eight maximums and converted 40% of his attempts at double to keep his title defence alive.
The Teessider stormed into a three-set lead with an average in excess of 100, but Baker, who posted an incredible 24 scores of 140+, fought back brilliantly. He reduced the arrears to 3-2, before converting an incredible skin-saving 140 checkout to force a deciding set, after Durrant had squandered one match dart at D18.
Baker had the momentum, but Durrant showed his champion qualities to respond when it mattered most. The two-time world champion dispatched a brilliant 84 kill on the bull to break throw immediately in the seventh set and although he spurned a second match dart in leg three, he recovered to seal victory after following up his eighth maximum with a 13-dart hold on D12.
Elsewhere, 2015 world champion Scott Mitchell breezed into the quarter-finals with an emphatic 4-0 victory over Polish qualifier Krzysztof Kciuk. ‘Scotty Dog’ wasn’t at his vintage best but averaged 86 and posted the solitary maximum en route to victory, to set up a last eight showdown against third seed Jim Williams.
Mitchell won nine of the opening ten legs as he cruised into a three-set lead, but Kciuk stole a march in the fourth set to lead 2-0. Nevertheless, the Dorset ace produced a classy 120 finish to level the set, before sealing his progression with a 16-dart hold on D8, after the Pole spurned two darts at double to reduce the arrears.
Kyle McKinstry survived three match darts as he edged out Canadian qualifier David Cameron in a dramatic seven-set tussle. The Northern Irishman won six of the opening seven legs to ease into a two-set lead, but he went off the boil and was ruthlessly punished, as ‘The Excalibur’ reeled off three straight sets to threaten an unlikely victory.
However, ‘The Village Man’ rallied; converting finishes of 86 and 78 en route to forcing a seventh and deciding set, after Cameron had squandered three clear darts for victory. McKinstry then ran riot in the seventh, kicking off proceedings with a classy 111 kill, which he followed up with a superb 11-darter and an 18-dart break of throw to book his place in the quarter-finals.
In the women’s section, Anastasia Dobromyslova stormed into the semi-finals with an emphatic straight sets win over Aileen de Graaf. The three-time women’s world champion edged a hard-fought opening set in a deciding leg, before winning the second set without reply, sealing the deal with a magnificent 11-dart leg to prevail with an 82.58 average and two maximums.
Top seed Lorraine Winstanley dumped out ten-time champion Trina Gulliver MBE to set up a semi-final showdown against her close friend Dobromyslova. Winstanley averaged 73.96 and converted 27% of her doubles, taking out a brilliant 124 kill on the bull and capitalising on a profligate display from ‘The Golden Girl’ to reach her second Lakeside semi-final.
Earlier in the afternoon, Maria O’Brien produced a brilliant display to defeat 2015 finalist Fallon Sherrock and reach her first Lakeside semi-final. O’Brien dumped out second seed Deta Hedman in her opener and followed that up with victory over sixth seed Sherrock, who was highly fancied for the title following Lisa Ashton’s surprise exit.
O’Brien defeated Sherrock in November’s PDC Women’s World Championship qualifier and history repeated itself at Frimley Green. O’Brien won both sets in deciding legs, averaging 86.69 and boasting an impressive 43% checkout success rate to set up a semi-final showdown against Mikuru Suzuki.
Suzuki dumped out four-time champion Lisa Ashton in round-one, but she came through an extremely scrappy affair to defeat seventh seed Sharon Prins 2-0 in the quarter-finals. Prins incredibly spurned 30 of her 32 attempts at double and averaged a miserly 59.10, as Suzuki triumphed with a 61.70 average, one maximum and a 19% checkout conversion rate.
Photo Credit: BDO Darts