Fallon Sherrock stole a march on the opening day of the PDC Women’s Series, sealing back-to-back titles to top the Order of Merit above four-time women’s world champion Lisa Ashton.
Ashton topped the Order of Merit during last year’s inaugural Women’s Series and she made a perfect start to Saturday’s action in Milton Keynes, defeating Rhian O’Sullivan to prevail in Event One.
Ashton – who became the first woman to claim a PDC Tour Card via Q-School last January – whitewashed Sherrock 4-0 in the last 16, before defeating former world No 1 Lorraine Winstanley and three-time women’s world champion Anastasia Dobromyslova to set up a clash against two-time world finalist O’Sullivan.
O’Sullivan claimed the scalps of ten-time women’s world champion Trina Gulliver and the evergreen Deta Hedman en route to reaching the semi-finals, before seeing off a spirited Roz Bulmer 5-2 in the last four.
O’Sullivan appeared poised to force a decider in an enthralling finale against Ashton, but ‘The Lancashire Rose’ fired in a timely 13-dart leg to complete a 5-3 success and scoop the £1,000 top prize in the process.
However, her hopes of making it back-to-back titles were derailed by an impressive Joanne Locke, who registered consecutive semi-final appearances in Events Two and Three at the Marshall Arena.
Locke inflicted Ashton’s first defeat of the day with a 4-2 victory in the quarter-finals, only to succumb to an imperious Sherrock in the semi-finals, who reeled off four consecutive legs in 18, 12, 15 and 17 darts to triumph 5-1.
‘The Queen of the Palace’ defeated former Lakeside semi-finalist Maria O’Brien, Event One finalist O’Sullivan and semi-finalist Bulmer before thrashing Locke, which set up a showdown against 2017 world finalist Corrine Hammond.
The Australian defied a spirited fightback from Hedman to prevail in a hard-fought semi-final tussle, yet Sherrock’s superior scoring power paid dividends in the showpiece, as the 27-year-old reeled off four straight legs from 2-1 down to clinch the title, featuring a brace of 13-darters.
The recent Nordic Masters finalist kicked off Event Three by surviving a scare in her opener against Sarah Roberts, before overcoming O’Sullivan for the second successive competition.
In the quarter-finals, Sherrock accounted for Hammond in a repeat of the Event Two final, rallying from 3-2 adrift before storming through to the final courtesy of a 5-1 win against Dobromyslova, who suffered semi-final disappointment yet again.
Sherrock was pitted against the legendary Hedman for the Event Three title, after ‘The Heart of Darts’ defeated a series of high-profile stars to register her best performance of the opening day.
The 61-year-old prevailed in a last-leg decider against two-time women’s world champion Mikuru Suzuki in the last eight – her second consecutive win over the Japanese sensation – having earlier dumped out Ashton 4-2 in the last 16.
It’s testament to the quality of both Sherrock and Hedman that after a gruelling day of arrows, they saved their best until last. Hedman drew first blood with a commanding 15-dart hold, but Sherrock came roaring back courtesy of a sparkling three-leg burst.
The Milton Keynes ace levelled up proceedings with a sublime 11-darter, converted a sensational 164 checkout for a 12-dart break, which was swiftly followed by a confident 14-darter.
The unflappable Hedman rattled off back-to-back legs in 16 and 17 darts to level up proceedings and regain the initiative, although a crucial dart at D10 from Sherrock in leg seven shifted the pendulum once more, and she duly wrapped up proceedings with a 16-dart hold to seal her second title of the afternoon.
‘The Queen of the Palace’ is now in pole position to secure a Grand Slam spot – awarded to the player with the most prize money across the opening weekend of Women’s Series action – having amassed £2,100 across the three events.
Ashton and Hedman – who claimed World Championship qualification via last year’s Order of Merit – occupy second and third spots respectively, with Event Two finalist Hammond and a resurgent Dobromyslova making up the top five.
Two-time world champion Suzuki sits in ninth following an underwhelming opening day, with former World Masters winner Winstanley 11th. Elsewhere, Gulliver is 18th, having produced some impressive displays on her return to competitive action.
Image Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC