Gerwyn Price produced an extraordinary comeback against Damon Heta to win 8-7 and secure his 20th PDC title at Players Championship 21 in Barnsley on Monday afternoon.
‘The Iceman’ was in inspired form as he scooped his first ranking title since March, as the sixth PDC Super Series event of 2021 began in scintillating fashion.
Price was certainly feeling the heat in the early stages of Monday’s final, as Heta raced into a 4-0 lead. Price opened his account to preserve his slender hopes, but the Australian roared back to move to the cusp of victory at 6-2.
Nevertheless, the world No 1 fought back magnificently to reduce the arrears to 6-5, reeling off three consecutive legs in just 35 darts – following up an 11-dart leg with successive 12s.
Heta fired in a timely 15-darter to move within a leg of the title, but Price enjoyed another blistering surge, firing in back-to-back 11-darters to force a decider, before following up a sixth 180 with a 13-dart hold on tops to complete the comeback.
“I got off to a bad start. He probably deserved to be 2-2 as I missed a couple of doubles, and was kicking myself,” said Price.
“When I started playing I wasn’t as good as I am now, and I have learnt to never give up. If I find my game, I will always get myself back in. Even if I was 7-0 down now I have the belief that I will get myself back into it.
“Everyone wants to win and win tournaments, but I know that I have been playing well. I’m back in the winners circle, I dug in and it would have taken something special to beat me today.“
It was testament to the Welshman’s brilliance that his 107.80 average against ‘The Heat’ was not his best of the day. The reigning world champion averaged 103.94 over the course of the day at the Barnsley Metrodome, but his best performance saw him inflict a 7-3 defeat on Ian White with a 112.51 average in the semi-finals.
The 36-year-old had kicked off his campaign with comfortable 6-3 and 6-1 wins over William O’Connor and Lukas Wenig respectively, before he edged out another German Martin Schindler to reach the last 16.
Price eased past UK Open finalist Luke Humphries to reach the last eight, where he then overcame Callan Rydz in a dramatic last-leg decider.
Heta will have been shell-shocked at the manner of his defeat, but the Australian produced a series of dominant displays to reach his fifth PDC final.
He eased past Ryan Murray and Luc Peters to progress to his board final, and convincing victories over two-time BDO world champion Scott Waites and former World Youth champion Max Hopp booked him a place in the quarter-finals.
A 6-3 victory over Ritchie Edhouse followed, before he dismantled World Matchplay semi-finalist Krzysztof Ratajski to set up a showdown against the irrepressible Price.
Keegan Brown posted the highest average of the day with a staggering 115.24 in his opening round victory over Dirk van Duijvenbode, while Dave Chisnall and Ratajski also registered 109 averages on a day of high-quality action.
Michael van Gerwen’s wait for a title in 2021 continues, after the three-time world champion was beaten in an astonishing last 32 contest against Daryl Gurney. The Dutchman posted a whopping 112.58 average, but it wasn’t enough to defeat an inspired ‘Super Chin’, who prevailed with a 108.68 himself.
Elsewhere, World Matchplay champion Peter Wright saw his 13-game winning streak curtailed by James Wilson in the second round. Snakebite opened up Monday’s proceedings with a 6-3 win over five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld, before succumbing 6-5 to Wilson despite averaging over 107.
Gerwyn Price 8-7 Damon Heta
Gerwyn Price 7-3 Ian White
Damon Heta 7-2 Krzysztof Ratajski
Ian White 6-5 Lewis Williams
Gerwyn Price 6-5 Callan Rydz
Damon Heta 6-3 Ritchie Edhouse
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-3 Rob Cross