Joe Cullen clinched his second PDC title of 2021 with an 8-6 victory over world No 1 Gerwyn Price in the final of Players Championship 13 on Monday, as the PDC Pro Tour action resumed with a bang in Milton Keynes.
The final of the first Players Championship event since April was contested by two players with Pro Tour titles to their name in 2021, although it was ‘The Rockstar’ who denied the world champion a dream return at the Marshall Arena to scoop his seventh PDC ranking title.
Price, returning to competitive action for the first time in 86 days, defeated Gary Anderson in a repeat of January’s World Championship final to reach the last eight, before cruising past his compatriot and newly crowned Premier League champion Jonny Clayton, but he was forced to settle for the £6,000 runners-up prize.
Trailing 3-2, Cullen won five of the next six legs to establish a commanding 7-4 cushion, but he was forced to survive a spirited fightback from the world No 1, who spurned two darts at D12 and D6 to force a last-leg decider, before Cullen eventually triumphed with his sixth match dart, to avenge his defeat to Price in January’s Masters.
“I was hoping to win one of the titles this week but I wasn’t expecting it on the first day after such a long lay-off,” Cullen admitted.
“It felt like a first day back at school, I was very unsure of myself at the start of the day but it’s funny how things work out sometimes. I’ve missed the kind of pressure I felt at the end of the final. I fell over the line at the end but the important thing is I found a way to win.”
“I’ve missed the kind of pressure I felt at the end of the final. I fell over the line at the end but the important thing is I found a way to win,” added the Yorkshireman, who defeated Steve West, Mike De Decker, Martin Atkins, Ian White and James Wade, before demolishing Michael van Gerwen 7-2 in the semi-finals.
Price’s highly-anticipated return saw him register back-to-back ProTour finals, having also finished runner-up at Players Championship 8 on March 19 – his last competitive outing.
‘The Iceman’ kept his cool to recover from 5-3 down to defeat Joe Murnan in his opener, and he also overturned the same deficit to oust ‘The Flying Scotsman’, surviving match darts in that encounter. Earlier in the day, he posted a 106 average in his last 16 win over Steve Beaton, before averaging 104 to thrash Clayton 7-1 in the semi-finals.
Premier League runner-up Jose De Sousa suffered a second-round exit on Monday afternoon, despite posting an astonishing 127 average in his opening round victory over William Borland – one of the highest recorded averages in PDC history, while Dave Chisnall averaged a whopping 120.20 in his 6-0 success against Ted Evetts.
Peter Wright, Nathan Aspinall, Dimitri Van den Bergh Rob Cross were among the first-round casualties in Milton Keynes, while Glen Durrant suffered a 6-2 defeat to former world finalist Kirk Shepherd in round one, in his first appearance since suffering Premier League elimination.
Elsewhere, Niels Zonneveld produced the first nine-dart leg of Super Series, achieving perfection in his second-round defeat to James Wade.
Image Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
2021 Players Championship 13
Monday June 14
Joe Cullen 6-5 Ian White
James Wade 6-5 John Henderson
Martijn Kleermaker 6-4 Adrian Lewis
Michael van Gerwen 6-5 Mickey Mansell
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-1 Bradley Brooks
Jonny Clayton 6-2 Steve Brown
Gary Anderson 6-4 Michael Smith
Gerwyn Price 6-3 Steve Beaton
Joe Cullen 6-4 James Wade
Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Martijn Kleermaker
Jonny Clayton 6-4 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Gerwyn Price 6-5 Gary Anderson
Joe Cullen 7-2 Michael van Gerwen
Gerwyn Price 7-1 Jonny Clayton
Joe Cullen 8-6 Gerwyn Price