Gary Anderson will continue the defence of his US Darts Masters title against Gerwyn Price on Friday evening at Mandalay Bay, after both players won their respective first round tussles on the opening night.
Anderson and Price have not met since their controversial Grand Slam of Darts clash last November, which saw the Welshman prevail in a bad-tempered affair and clinch his first major PDC title. However, it also saw ‘The Iceman’ incur a record-breaking £21,500 fine from the DRA.
The 2019 PDC World Series kicked off in Las Vegas on Thursday, with Anderson bidding to defend his title having beaten Rob Cross in last year’s showpiece. Despite this, ‘The Flying Scotsman’ survived a scare as he battled past debutant Elliot Milk in his opener.
‘The Milkman’ capitalised on six missed darts at double from Anderson early on to establish a 2-0 cushion, but the Scot roared back with legs of 14, 11 and 15 darts. The North American qualifier levelled, but Anderson won three of the next four legs to prevail with a 96.81 average and three 180’s.
This sets up a hotly anticipated showdown against Price, who kicked off the tournament with a hard-fought 6-4 win over former UK Open finalist Gary Mawson. Price was beaten by Dawson Murschell in his opener 12 months ago and he appeared in danger of another early exit as Mawson led 2-1.
Price reeled off three straight legs to seize control but Mawson battled back to level – capitalising on five missed doubles in leg seven. However, the Welshman regained the initiative via double 12, before kicking off the tenth leg with five perfect darts – eventually sealing the deal via tops.
Former world champion Rob Cross stormed through to the quarter-finals with a 6-0 whitewash against Leonard Gates, who won the second qualification event to seal his televised debut. Gates did little wrong but Cross was clinical; averaging 101.33 and converting 46% of his attempts at double.
The World No 2 will now take on UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall for a place in the semi-finals. Aspinall marked his World Series debut with a dominant victory over Canadian debutant Shawn Brenneman, averaging 98.29 and hitting 55% of his attempts at double en route to a 6-2 victory.
Daryl Gurney breezed past big-stage debutant Daniel Baggish 6-1 as he bids to replicate his run to the final in 2017. Baggish posted ton-plus averages throughout qualification but was punished for a profligate display by ‘Super Chin’, who averaged just over 97 and fired in two maximums.
He will take on Peter Wright for a place in the last four, after ‘Snakebite’ edged out former Lakeside finalist Jeff Smith in a last-leg decider. Smith didn’t miss a single dart at double, taking out finishes of 88, 106 and 126 along the way, but Wright held his nerve to triumph with a 15-dart hold.
Michael van Gerwen began his bid for a second US Masters crown with a hard-fought 6-4 win over American number one Darin Young. MVG raced into a 3-0 lead but Young won four of the next five legs to level, only for the Dutchman to follow up a 78 kill by sinking tops to avoid the upset.
Elsewhere, World Championship finalist Michael Smith battled past Canadian World Cup star Jim Long to book his place in the last eight. ‘Bully Boy’ was plagued by several bounce-outs but produced classy 126 and 131 finishes to lead 5-3, before he sealed his progression with a 92.90 average.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Dafabet US Darts Masters
Thursday July 4 (1200 local time)
Gerwyn Price 6-4 Gary Mawson
Nathan Aspinall 6-2 Shawn Brenneman
Daryl Gurney 6-1 Daniel Baggish
Michael Smith 6-4 Jim Long
Rob Cross 6-0 Leonard Gates
Gary Anderson 6-4 Elliot Milk
Peter Wright 6-5 Jeff Smith
Michael van Gerwen 6-4 Darin Young
All games best of 11 legs
Friday July 5 (1200 local time)
Van Gerwen/Young v Michael Smith
Gary Anderson v Gerwyn Price
Rob Cross v Nathan Aspinall
Daryl Gurney v Peter Wright