Ryan Searle produced a series of sensational displays to seal his second PDC Pro Tour title, courtesy of a dramatic 8-7 victory over Peter Wright in the final of Players Championship 22 in Barnsley.
‘Heavy Metal’ was in scintillating form throughout the afternoon, relinquishing just seven legs en route to the final, while firing in four ton-plus averages.
Searle struggled on the outer ring in the early stages of Tuesday’s showpiece, although his superior scoring power saw him establish a 4-2 lead against Snakebite, only for the Scot to convert 106 and 136 finishes for back-to-back 12-darters to restore parity.
The pair then traded four consecutive holds, but Wright moved to the cusp of glory with a timely 14-dart break, as he appeared poised to seal a fifth ranking title of 2021.
However, Searle had other ideas. The 33-year-old rattled in a superb 11-darter against the throw to force a decider, despite surviving a match dart, before sinking tops in a nervy finale to claim the £10,000 top prize.
“That was a scrappy final, it just didn’t feel like we were hitting anything. I’m amazed the averages were that high,” said Searle, who averaged 95 to his opponents 103.
“I’ve been playing well for a long time and maybe just not had the luck. I believe I should be in the top 32, which is easy to say but that’s where I want to be.
“I’m delighted to get over the line and hopefully I can push on from here,” Searle added.
Searle’s progress to the final could not have been more serene, and the highlight of his afternoon saw him register a whopping 116.90 average in his 7-0 semi-final whitewash win over Martin Lukeman, who was appearing in the last four of a Pro Tour event for the very first time.
The Somerset star had kicked off his campaign with a resounding 6-1 win over Mark McGeeney, which he followed up with 6-2 victories over Jim McEwan and five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld, before a brace of 6-1 wins over Rusty-Jake Rodriguez and Luke Woodhouse booked his semi-final spot.
Wright’s route to the final was slightly more testing, although he advanced to round three in emphatic fashion, easing past Matthew Edgar and Wayne Jones. The world No 2 then survived two match darts to defeat his compatriot Alan Soutar, before dispatching Andrew Gilding 6-1 to reach the last eight.
The former world champion averaged 109.63 to defeat Martin Schindler in a thrilling quarter-final clash, as ‘The Wall’ succumbed despite averaging 103.80 himself, before Wright defeated Dimitri Van den Bergh in a repeat of last week’s World Matchplay final in the last four, closing out a 7-4 success.
Elsewhere, Ron Meulenkamp landed a nine-dart-finish in his first round defeat to Rusty-Jake Rodriguez, while Monday’s winner and world No 1 Gerwyn Price was beaten by an inspired Martijn Kleermaker in the last 32. Michael van Gerwen was a surprise first-round casualty in Barnsley, losing out 6-4 to his compatriot Kevin Doets.
Image Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Ryan Searle 8-7 Peter Wright
Ryan Searle 7-0 Martin Lukeman
Peter Wright 7-4 Dimitri van den Bergh
Ryan Searle 6-1 Luke Woodhouse
Peter Wright 6-4 Martin Schindler
Martin Lukeman 6-5 Keane Barry
Dimitri van den Bergh 6-3 Vincent van der Voort