Jonny Clayton has capped a hugely impressive week by winning the fourth Players Championship event of 2021, beating Damon Heta 8-6 in the final in Bolton.
It was a case of ‘third time lucky’ for The Ferret, who finished as runner-up on both Thursday and Friday. He also reached the quarter-final on Saturday, and on Sunday finished the first ‘Super Series’ with a flourish.
It rounds off a dream start to 2021 for the Welshman, who won the first major of the year at the Masters – a win that earned him a Premier League berth for 2021.
His run to the decider included victories over José de Sousa, Michael Smith, and Gabriel Clemens, as he underlined his status as one of the most in-form players in the world of darts right now.
The Welshman was forced to dig deep at times, pinning a pressurised bullseye for a 90 checkout to seal a 7-5 win over Clemens in the penultimate stage.
Clayton times his run with final burst
He got an early break to take a 2-0 lead against Heta, but then struggled to find a double as the Australian star won three legs in succession.
The players then went toe-to-toe, as it went to 4-4.
The Welshman then took the initiative however, hitting a 10-darter for a break of throw. From there, he didn’t look back.
He powered on, and while Heta threatened a comeback, Clayton threw an 11-dart leg to get over the line.
“I am [delighted],” he grinned after the final. “Things are going really well. I’m confident. I’m relaxed. So it’s going good.
“It’s confidence. I’m so relaxed. I’m enjoying it.
“Sometimes I play and I think, ‘that didn’t feel good’. I look, and it’s 96 [average], and I’m thinking ‘I might be doing something right’. It’s a good feeling.
“My consistency is starting to creep up. I know I’ve got the game. Just to keep that consistency going up. It’s a good start [to 2021].”
So can he win the UK Open?
“My darts are going good. So why not? The Welsh Ferret is going to try his hardest there,” he smiled.
Beaten finalist Heta enjoyed an awesome run through the tournament, and can’t be accused of getting an easy draw. On the way to the final, he beat Saturday’s winner Raymond van Barneveld, Mervyn King, Peter Wright, Dirk van Duijvenbode and Michael van Gerwen.
PDC Super Series 1: Players Championship 4 Results
|Quarter-Finals||Gabriel Clemens 6-4 Daryl Gurney|
|Jonny Clayton 6-3 Michael Smith|
|Michael van Gerwen 6-2 Madars Razma|
|Damon Heta 6-3 Dirk van Duijvenbode|
|Semi-Finals||Jonny Clayton 7-5 Gabriel Clemens|
|Damon Heta 7-3 Michael van Gerwen|
|Final||Jonnny Clayton 8-6 Damon Heta|
MVG displays top form but falls at penultimate hurdle
Michael van Gerwen made a storming start to the day, posting averages of 105, 103, and 101 in dominant wins over Adam Gawlas, Bradley Brooks, and Kim Huybrechts respectively. He made his way through to the semi-final, but was beaten by Heta.
But the Green Machine ran into the Heat, as the Aussie held his nerve on the outer ring despite a high-scoring onslaught from the Dutchman. Heta trailed 2-3, but rattled off five consecutive legs to reach the decider.
The in-form Joe Cullen also impressed. The Rock Star reached the last 16, where he fell to Daryl Gurney.
Woodhouse hits a nine-darter as Barney falters
Luke Woodhouse followed in the footsteps of Michael Smith, Adrian Lewis and Mensur Suljovic earlier in the week, by registering a perfect leg. ‘Woody’ was unable to back it up, however, as he fell to Danny Noppert 6-3 in the first round.
Raymond van Barneveld, following his remarkable march to the title on Saturday, enjoyed an impressive win over fellow Q-School graduate Geert Nentjes, before falling to Heta in the second round. The five-time world champ ran out of steam, bowing out against the Australian with a three-dart average of 88.
World number one Gerwyn Price was not playing over the weekend, due to an ear infection.
PDC Super Series 1 – Winners
|Players Championship 1||Joe Cullen 8-7 Jonny Clayton|
|Players Championship 2||Callan Rydz 8-7 Jonny Clayton|
|Players Championship 3||Raymond van Barneveld 8-6 Joe Cullen|
|Players Championship 4||Jonny Clayton 8-6 Damon Heta|
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Joe Cullen overcame Clayton to pick up the first Players Championship title of 2021, defeating the recently-crowned Masters champion 8-7 in the final on Thursday.
The duo met on the oche for the first time since their World Championship showdown in December, when Cullen prevailed in a deciding leg and on Thursday it was Cullen who prevailed in another last-leg shoot-out.
It was the Rock Star who came out on top in the meeting of the two close friends. Cullen enjoyed an impressive day at the office, beating Ryan Meikle, Ryan Murray, Scott Waites, Chris Dobey, Gabriel Clemens and Nathan Aspinall.
Callan Rydz defeated Clayton 8-7 in the final to clinch his first PDC ProTour title at Friday’s Players Championship event in Bolton.
The 22-year-old punished Clayton’s miss on bullseye for the match by delivering a 127 checkout to force a deciding leg having found himself 3-1 down early on in the match and with his opponent threatening signs of running away with it.
First down to a finish, Rydz kept his composure to pin double nine and take out a decisive 87 to complete a memorable win and secure his maiden ranking title.
Reigning world champion Gerwyn Price was a surprise elimination in the last 64 as he fell to a 6-5 defeat against world No 96 Aaron Beeney, while Glen Durant was beaten 6-2 by Ian White and Peter Wright lost 6-2 to PDC newcomer Alan Soutar.
Raymond van Barneveld sealed his first PDC ranking title since 2013 three days into his ProTour comeback as he beat Cullen 8-6 in a thrilling final on Saturday.
The five-time world champ also beat Rob Cross and Mervyn King en route to the title, as he announced his return in style.
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