Michael van Gerwen continued his magnificent start to the season by clinching the Players Championship 3 title with an 8-5 win over Ian White, having landed an extraordinary nine-dart finish earlier in the day.
Van Gerwen displayed a rather distracted demeanour throughout the afternoon, but he still landed his 20th career nine-darter en route to clinching the £10,000 winner’s prize and his fourth PDC title of 2019 at the Robin Park Tennis Centre in Wigan.
Since lifting his third World Championship title on New Year’s Day, Van Gerwen has won a fifth consecutive Masters crown and claimed glory in the opening Players Championship event of 2019. The 29-year-old has also made a 100% start to his Premier League defence, as he bids to top the league phase for a seventh successive year.
‘The Green Machine’ kicked off Saturday’s proceedings with battling wins over Ryan Searle and Ross Smith, before he took on Jamie Hughes in round-three. MVG wrapped up a 6-3 win over ‘Yozza’ with his second 9-darter of the week, following up visits of 177 and 174 with a brilliant 150 checkout (T19, T19, D18) having not posted a single maximum throughout the contest.
☁️9️⃣What a route! 🎢@MvG180 hits yet another nine-dart leg. This time to win the match, and without even touching a 180 all game 💅🏻
177 3️⃣174 6️⃣150 9️⃣
— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) February 16, 2019
Van Gerwen then produced one of his best performances of the afternoon to run out a 6-3 winner over World Youth champion Dimitri Van den Bergh, averaging 103.50 to Van den Bergh’s 103.30, which set up a last eight meeting with Gavin Carlin.
The Northern Irishman had earlier dumped out Michael Smith, Jeffrey de Zwaan and Kim Huybrechts in just his third event as a PDC player, but Van Gerwen won a scrappy encounter 6-3 with a 91.80 average, to set up a semi-final showdown against Mervyn King.
King rolled back the years with a sublime 110 average in a first-round whitewash of Mickey Mansell and also defeated Vincent van der Voort and Steve West en route to reaching the last four. However, King produced a lacklustre display in a bizarre semi-final tussle, which MVG won 7-3 with a 91.40 average.
Nevertheless, the world number one showed his class to defeat Ian White 8-5 in a high-quality final. ‘The Diamond’ topped last year’s Players Championship Order of Merit and outperformed his Dutch counterpart for much of the day, but while Van Gerwen saved his best until last, White statistically produced his worst performance of the afternoon in Saturday’s showpiece.
Van Gerwen drew first blood in the final with a clinical 75 kill for a 15-dart break of throw, before doubling his lead with a 13-dart hold. White opened his account with a classy 120 checkout and then capitalised on three missed darts from MVG to square the contest, but with White sat on tops for a 3-2 lead, Van Gerwen conjured up a magical 160 outshot to regain the initiative.
The three-time world champion regained his two-leg buffer by following up a sublime 171 with a 13-dart hold on tops, before White reduced the arrears to 4-3 with a solid 14-dart hold. However, Van Gerwen then embarked on a stunning sequence of darts to move to the brink of victory.
‘Mighty Mike’ kicked off the eighth leg with five perfect darts, eventually mopping it up in 12 for a commanding hold of throw. The Dutchman then landed a sensational 170 finish for a 12-dart break, which he followed by converting his second 160 checkout of the contest to extend his cushion.
White showed his class; producing clinical 127 and 105 finishes in consecutive legs to cut the deficit to 7-5, but he was unable to make further inroads. Van Gerwen fired in a third maximum to pressure White’s throw and the 48-year-old spurned darts for a third leg on the spin, as the world number one returned to sink double two and clinch the title with a 105.70 average.
Although his afternoon ended in disappointment, White performed with remarkable consistency to reach his first Pro Tour final since September 2018. ‘The Diamond’ averaged between 97 and 104 in his opening six ties, but he was rendered almost helpless in the final as an irrepressible Van Gerwen denied the Stoke star an 11th PDC ranking title.
White kicked off his campaign with an impressive 103.60 average as he thrashed Vincent Kamphuis 6-1, before battling past former Lakeside world champion Mark Webster in round-two. ‘The Diamond’ then recorded three consecutive 6-4 victories over the trio of Ryan Joyce, Darren Webster and John Henderson to reach the semi-finals.
Chris Dobey awaited him in the last four, as ‘Hollywood’ continued his electrifying start to 2019. Dobey made his Premier League debut in Newcastle just over a week ago and landed a nine-darter in Players Championship 2 last Sunday. He defeated the likes of Peter Wright and Adrian Lewis this afternoon, before succumbing 7-5 to White despite averaging 103.90.
Elsewhere in Wigan, Simon Whitlock’s disappointing start to 2019 continued, as he suffered a third consecutive first-round Players Championship defeat. ‘The Wizard’ averaged a miserly 75.80 and slipped to a 6-2 defeat against Nathan Derry, which leaves the Australian still searching for his first victory of the year.
Nine-time major winner James Wade was another high-profile first-round casualty, as ‘The Machine’ was edged out 6-5 by an impressive William O’Connor, who averaged 101.10 en route to victory. Three-time BDO world champion Glen Durrant also fell at the first hurdle, losing 6-3 to an excellent Luke Woodhouse, who averaged 100 to Duzza’s 97.
Michael Smith posted a sublime 112.30 average in his first-round win over stablemate Adam Hunt, who averaged 104.80 himself. Nevertheless, ‘Bully Boy’ was knocked out in round-two by eventual quarter-finalist Gavin Carlin, who continues to impress since claiming his PDC Tour Card last month.
Dave Chisnall and Daryl Gurney suffered surprise second round defeats against Tytus Kanik and Zoran Lerchbacher respectively, whilst the Premier League trio of Rob Cross, Gerwyn Price and Mensur Suljovic all bowed out in round-three, with ‘Voltage’ exiting the tournament despite posting a 106 average in defeat against John Henderson.
Gary Anderson remains absent from PDC action due to his back injury, while five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld and former World Youth champion Max Hopp are other notable absentees from this weekend’s double-header at the Robin Park Tennis Centre.