Michael Smith secured his first title of 2022 with victory at Players Championship 14, defeating former World Masters champion John O’Shea in Tuesday’s showpiece.
The World Championship runner-up has endured a difficult spell since losing the UK Open in March, but ‘Bully Boy’ returned to winning ways in Wigan to capture his seventh Players Championship crown.
The St Helen’s star opened his campaign with convincing wins over Tony Martinez and Ricardo Pietreczko, which he followed with ton-plus averages to dispatch Ricky Evans and Martin Lukeman.
Smith then came from behind in his quarter-final clash against James Wilson, who enjoyed a welcome return to form at the Robin Park Tennis Centre, before breezing past fifth seed Damon Heta 7-2 to set up a showdown against Tuesday’s surprise package O’Shea.
‘The Joker’ trousered £6,000 courtesy of reaching his first PDC ranking final, dumping out Nathan Aspinall, Ross Smith and Dave Chisnall before succumbing against ‘Bully Boy’.
The Irishman kicked off his campaign with a 98 average to account for Nick Fullwell, while averaging 99 against ‘Smudger’, who achieved perfection in his first-round clash against Geert de Vos.
O’Shea made a terrific start to Tuesday’s final, converting 105 and 120 finishes en route to establishing a 3-2 cushion. However, Smith seized control by reeling off five of the next six legs, before punishing profligacy from O’Shea in the closing stages to seal the deal via double two.
Elsewhere, Heta also landed a nine-dart finish earlier in the day, delivering the goods in his first-round tie against Keegan Brown, before Ross Smith followed suit just minutes later.
Smith was one of just two Premier League stars to feature in Wigan, with Masters champion Joe Cullen reaching the last 16 before exiting at the hands of Dutchman Maik Kuivenhoven.
Nevertheless, Jonny Clayton, Michael van Gerwen, Peter Wright, Gerwyn Price, Gary Anderson and James Wade were among the high-profile absentees, as they set their sights on Night 14 in Sheffield on Thursday.
Image Credit: Simon O’Connor/PDC
2022 Players Championship 14
Tuesday May 10, Robin Park Tennis Centre, Wigan
James Wilson 6-4 Max Hopp
Michael Smith 6-4 Martin Lukeman
Ritchie Edhouse 6-2 Kim Huybrechts
Damon Heta 6-2 Andrew Gilding
Dave Chisnall 6-5 Ryan Meikle
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-0 Shaun Wilkinson
Maik Kuivenhoven 6-2 Joe Cullen
John O’Shea 6-3 Ross Smith
Michael Smith 6-4 James Wilson
Damon Heta 6-4 Ritchie Edhouse
Dave Chisnall 6-3 Krzysztof Ratajski
John O’Shea 6-4 Maik Kuivenhoven
Michael Smith 7-2 Damon Heta
John O’Shea 7-4 Dave Chisnall
Michael Smith 8-5 John O’Shea