Daryl Gurney clinched his first floor title of the season at Players Championship 25 with victory over UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall at the Barnsley Metrodome on Saturday afternoon.
World number three Gurney defeated ‘The Asp’ 8-5 to secure his first Players Championship title since April 2017 – the fifth PDC ranking title of his career. It was a day of dominance for the 33-year-old, who won all of his seven games by at least a three-leg margin.
“It feels too long [since last winning a Players Championship event], I often struggle and don’t bring my ‘A-game’,” said Gurney, who won his last ranking event on the European Tour in March.
“This week everything went great for me and I found something extra. I kicked in well with plenty of 180s to give myself opportunities which I took. These events are harder to win than TV tournaments; you can play an unbelievable game and then you’re straight back into your next game just a few minutes later.”
It was a closely contested final in the opening exchanges, with the first eight legs all going with throw as Aspinall converted a stunning 155 kill in leg two. However, Gurney followed up an 11-dart hold in leg nine with a crucial 15-dart break moments later to establish a 6-4 cushion.
The reigning Players Champion then fired in a delightful 12-dart hold to move to the cusp of victory and although Aspinall took out a skin-saving 77 finish, Gurney landed his sixth maximum of the contest before completing a 44 checkout to claim the £10,000 top prize.
Gurney kicked off Saturday’s action with a comprehensive 6-2 win against Darren Webster, before successive 6-3 wins over the trio of Steve Lennon, Mervyn King and Jelle Klaasen secured his place in the quarter-finals.
Peter Wright was his opponent in the last eight, with the Scot averaging 102, 111, 104 and 108 en route to the quarter-finals. Nevertheless, Gurney breezed to a 6-2 success over ‘Snakebite’, with both players averaging below 90 in an underwhelming affair.
In the last four, the Northern Irishman faced top seed Ian White, who recorded two ton-plus averages en route to reaching his fifth Players Championship semi-final of 2019. Gurney established an early 5-2 lead only for White to reduce the arrears to 5-4, but ‘Super Chin’ fended off the fightback to prevail with a 100.50 average.
Aspinall suffered his second Pro Tour final defeat of the season, although it was another positive day for the UK Open champion, who is up to eighth on the Players Championship Order of Merit after pocketing £6,000 for his exploits.
‘The Asp’ survived a scare to edge a last-leg decider with Cameron Menzies in round one, before seeing off Alan Norris and Ryan Meikle to set up a last 16 tussle against Toni Alcinas, who claimed the scalp of Dave Chisnall in the previous round.
Aspinall battled back from 3-1 and 4-3 down to defeat the Spaniard, before producing a clinical display to defeat a resurgent Justin Pipe 6-4, with ‘The Force’ appearing in his third Pro Tour quarter-final within the space of eight events.
This set up a showdown with World Championship finalist Michael Smith in the semi-finals – a repeat of July’s US Darts Masters final. Aspinall defeated ‘Bully Boy’ on that occasion and history repeated itself in Barnsley, with the 28-year-old reeling off five straight legs from 5-2 down to sink Smith.
Elsewhere, Gary Anderson’s hopes of qualifying for the Players Championship Finals were dealt a blow after he was edged out by his World Cup partner Wright in round one. Snakebite averaged 102.90 to Anderson’s 97.50 in a match which saw both players threaten nine-dart finishes.
Rob Cross – celebrating his 29th birthday on Saturday, suffered a shock first round exit to the veteran Andy Jenkins, whilst Glen Durrant, Dimitri Van den Bergh, Jonny Clayton and Darren Webster also fell at the first hurdle.
There were some mammoth averages posted throughout the afternoon at the Barnsley Metrodome. Conan Whitehead averaged a sensational 115.30 to defeat Players Championship 23 winner Jose De Sousa in the second round, with the Portuguese star averaging 103 himself.
Gerwyn Price averaged 113.80 in his second round win over Dirk van Duijvenbode, whilst Peter Wright, Adrian Lewis, Raymond van Barneveld, Ian White, Ryan Joyce and Jeffrey de Zwaan all posted averages of 104+, with De Zwaan landing a nine-darter in his all-Dutch clash against Ron Meulenkamp.
Following today’s action, only Van den Bergh and King are at risk of losing their provisional places in October’s World Grand Prix. The field for next month’s double-start tournament in Dublin will be confirmed following the conclusion Players Championship 26 on Sunday.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/
PDC Players Championship 25
Saturday September 21
Ian White 6-0 Jeffrey De Zwaan
Max Hopp 6-5 Luke Humphries
Daryl Gurney 6-3 Jelle Klaasen
Peter Wright 6-3 Callan Rydz
Michael Smith 6-1 Gerwyn Price
Mensur Suljovic 6-2 Andy Boulton
Justin Pipe 6-0 Keegan Brown
Nathan Aspinall 6-5 Toni Alcinas
Ian White 6-3 Max Hopp
Daryl Gurney 6-2 Peter Wright
Michael Smith 6-2 Mensur Suljovic
Nathan Aspinall 6-4 Justin Pipe
Daryl Gurney 7-4 Ian White
Nathan Aspinall 7-5 Michael Smith
Daryl Gurney 8-5 Nathan Aspinall