PETER WRIGHT won his third PDC ranking title in Players Championship 9 at the K2 Centre in Crawley following a 6-2 defeat of Justin Pipe in Saturday's final.
Wright, who fell just short of reaching the Betway Premier League Darts Play-Offs after a strong start to his debut campaign in the event, bounced back to form on Saturday to take the £10,000 first prize and boost his confidence ahead of next week's Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters.
The colourful star began his run to the title strongly as he saw off fellow Scot John Henderson 6-2 before defeating Steve Douglas with a whitewash win in the second round, with the aid of a 108 average.
Wright’s fine form continued as he dropped just one leg to Hong Kong's Scott Mackenzie before overcoming Adrian Lewis by a 6-2 margin to claim a quarter-final place with just five legs conceded.
The world number five then overcame Northern Ireland’s Brendan Dolan by a 6-4 scoreline with a 105 average before producing an excellent semi-final performance against Jamie Caven, winning 6-2 with a 107.94 average.
The World Championship finalist capitalised on a slow start from Pipe in the final as he won the first four legs, recording a 14-darter and back-to-back 15-dart finishes in that run.
Wright wasted chances to move 5-0 up after missing four shots at doubles, with Pipe taking the leg on double one before Wright won the next to go a leg away from victory.
Pipe won the eighth leg with a 14-dart finish to keep the game alive, only for Wright to end the contest in the next thanks to a brilliant 11-darter as he picked up a PDC ProTour win for the third successive year, emulating last June's victory in Crawley.
Pipe reached his second final of the year - backing up his fine run to a European Tour final in Germany back in January - in a run which included wins over Terry Jenkins and the in-form Robert Thornton to reach the quarter-finals.
There, he came from 3-1 down to defeat Ireland’s Connie Finnan 6-3 before achieving another comeback win in his last four game against Benito van de Pas, coming from 5-2 down by winning four straight legs.
That brilliant effort appeared to take all the steam out of the Taunton ace, who failed to fire on all cylinders in the decider to Wright, eventually losing 6-2 and having to settle for the £5,000 runners-up prize.
Dutch youngster van de Pas produced his best performance in a PDC ProTour event since winning a Tour Card in January with a run to the last four.
The 21-year-old defeated 2011 Players Championship Finals winner Kevin Painter in his opening game, before adding another notable scalp in the shape of Michael Smith to reach the last 16.
Van de Pas continued his winning streak by recording 6-1 wins against Michael Mansell and Mervyn King to reach the semi-final stage, where he built a 5-2 lead against Pipe only to see that advantage disappear as the next four legs fell the way of his opponent, ending his hopes of an appearance in his first senior PDC final.
Jamie Caven’s run to the semi-finals on Saturday was his best performance for exactly 12 months, when he won back-to-back Players Championships in Wigan on the same weekend.
The Derby ace came from 5-4 down to defeat seven-time major winner James Wade in a deciding leg in the last 32 before going on to win his next game against Ben Ward by a 6-4 margin.
The 38-year-old edged out Scotland’s Gary Anderson 6-4 in last eight, only to be outclassed by Wright in their semi-final encounter.
Premier League Darts semi-finalist Anderson and Northern Ireland’s Dolan reached the quarter-finals, while King produced a solid display to claim £1,500 for his last eight effort.
Ireland’s 52-year-old Connie Finnan reached the quarter-finals of a ProTour event for just the second time as he recorded notable triumphs over top ten stars Dave Chisnall and Simon Whitlock.
Reigning World Champion Michael van Gerwen had an eventful afternoon at the K2 Centre as he came from 5-3 down to defeat Lincolnshire’s Ross Twell 6-5 in the first round and won his next game by the same scoreline by hitting a 112 checkout in the deciding leg against compatriot Christian Kist before losing in last 32 to Mansell, despite averaging over 100 in a 6-3 defeat.
Raymond van Barneveld – who defeated Phil Taylor and van Gerwen to claim his the Premier League title 48 hours earlier - suffered a first round loss on Saturday after falling victim to Leamington Spa undertaker Nigel Heydon.
Players Championship 9
K2 Centre, Crawley, Saturday May 24
Michael van Gerwen (1) 6-5 Ross Twell
Christian Kist 6-1 Ryan Harrington
Stephen Bunting (32) 6-4 John Newland
Michael Mansell 6-5 Steve Hine
Benito van de Pas 6-3 Kevin Painter (16)
Josh Payne 6-4 John Part
Michael Smith (17) 6-3 Tomas Seyler
Mark Walsh 6-3 Colin Osborne
Steve Beaton (8) 6-3 Magnus Caris
Mark Dudbridge 6-2 Denis Ovens
Jelle Klaasen (25) 6-0 Ross Smith
Scott Rand 6-4 Zoran Lerchbacher
Meryvn King (9) 6-4 Aden Kirk
Campbell Jackson 6-3 Ron Meulenkamp
Vincent van der Voort (24) 6-3 Tony Newell
John Bowles 6-3 Colin Fowler
Dave Chisnall (5) 6-3 Steve West
Connie Finnan 6-1 Stuart White
Wayne Jones (28) 6-5 Paul Amos
Terry Temple 6-5 Brian Woods
Simon Whitlock (12) 6-1 Keegan Brown
Darren Johnson 6-2 Kevin Voornhout
Antonio Alcinas 6-5 Ronnie Baxter (21)
Matt Padgett 6-3 Andy Parsons
Robert Thornton (7) 6-5 Kevin Thomas
Joe Murnan 6-3 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Andy Smith (29) 6-2 Johnny Haines
Dan Russell 6-2 Mareno Michels
Justin Pipe (13) 6-3 Steve Maish
Andy Jenkins 6-4 Jyhan Artut
Terry Jenkins (20) 6-3 Kirk Shepherd
Kevin Dowling 6-2 Pete Dyos
Gary Anderson (2) 6-4 James Hubbard
Michael Barnard 6-4 Joey Ten Berge
Matt Clark 6-5 Andrew Gilding (31)
Adam Hunt 6-1 Dennis Smith
Wes Newton (15) 6-3 Jason Lovett
Arron Monk 6-5 Glenn Spearing
Nigel Heydon 6-3 Raymond van Barneveld (18)
Mark Webster 6-4 Stuart Kellett
Ian White (7) 6-0 Peter Hudson
Mark Barilli 6-5 William O'Connor
Darren Webster (26) 6-4 Ian Moss
Ben Ward 6-4 David Ladley
Jamie Caven (10) 6-2 Adrian Gray
Ronny Huybrechts 6-3 Jamie Robinson
James Wade (23) 6-0 Brett Claydon
Mick Todd 6-0 Matthew Edgar
Peter Wright (6) 6-2 John Henderson
Steve Douglas 6-1 Marc Dewsbury
Steve Brown 6-4 Dean Winstanley (27)
Scott Mackenzie 6-3 Jim Walker
Adrian Lewis (11) 6-1 Colin Lloyd
Ryan De Vreede 6-2 Chris Aubrey
James Richardson 6-5 Jamie Lewis (22)
Jamie Bain 6-3 David Dodds
Brendan Dolan (3) 6-4 Kurt Parry
Joe Cullen 6-1 Kevin McDine
Richie Burnett (30) 6-5 Steve Grubb
Kyle Anderson 6-5 Gerwyn Price
Andy Hamilton (14) 6-4 Gary Stone
David Pallett 6-0 Mark Cox
Paul Nicholson (19) 6-1 Ricky Evans
Daryl Gurney 6-3 Andy Pearce
Michael van Gerwen 6-5 Christian Kist
Michael Mansell 6-4 Stephen Bunting
Benito van de Pas 6-3 Josh Payne
Michael Smith 6-4 Mark Walsh
Steve Beaton 6-3 Mark Dudbridge
Scott Rand 6-3 Jelle Klaasen
Mervyn King 6-1 Campbell Jackson
John Bowles 6-5 Vincent van der Voort
Connie Finnan 6-2 Dave Chisnall
Terry Temple 6-4 Wayne Jones
Simon Whitlock 6-1 Darren Johnson
Antonio Alcinas 6-0 Matt Padgett
Robert Thornton 6-1 Joe Murnan
Andy Smith 6-4 Dan Russell
Justin Pipe 6-2 Andy Jenkins
Terry Jenkins 6-2 Kevin Dowling
Gary Anderson 6-1 Michael Barnard
Matt Clark 6-4 Adam Hunt
Arron Monk 6-0 Wes Newton
Mark Webster 6-4 Nigel Heydon
Ian White 6-2 Mark Barilli
Ben Ward 6-1 Darren Webster
Jamie Caven 6-4 Ronny Huybrechts
James Wade 6-3 Mick Todd
Peter Wright 6-0 Steve Douglas
Scott Mackenzie 6-5 Steve Brown
Adrian Lewis 6-2 Ryan De Vreede
James Richardson 6-5 Jamie Bain
Brendan Dolan 6-4 Joe Cullen
Richie Burnett 6-5 Kyle Anderson
Andy Hamilton 6-1 David Pallett
Daryl Gurney 6-0 Paul Nicholson
Michael Mansell 6-3 Michael van Gerwen
Benito van de Pas 6-3 Michael Smith
Steve Beaton 6-5 Scott Rand
Mervyn King 6-5 John Bowles
Connie Finnan 6-5 Terry Temple
Simon Whitlock 6-3 Antonio Alcinas
Robert Thornton 6-5 Andy Smith
Justin Pipe 6-4 Terry Jenkins
Gary Anderson 6-5 Matt Clark
Mark Webster 6-2 Arron Monk
Ben Ward 6-5 Ian White
Jamie Caven 6-5 James Wade
Peter Wright 6-1 Scott Mackenzie
Adrian Lewis 6-2 James Richardson
Brendan Dolan 6-4 Richie Burnett
Daryl Gurney 6-4 Andy Hamilton
Benito van de Pas 6-1 Michael Mansell
Mervyn King 6-3 Steve Beaton
Connie Finnan 6-5 Simon Whitlock
Justin Pipe 6-1 Robert Thornton
Gary Anderson 6-0 Mark Webster
Jamie Caven 6-4 Ben Ward
Peter Wright 6-2 Adrian Lewis
Brendan Dolan 6-2 Daryl Gurney
Benito van de Pas 6-1 Mervyn King
Justin Pipe 6-3 Connie Finnan
Jamie Caven 6-4 Gary Anderson
Peter Wright 6-4 Brendan Dolan
Justin Pipe 6-5 Benito van de Pas
Peter Wright 6-2 Jamie Caven
Peter Wright 6-2 Justin Pipe