Michael van Gerwen clinched the first PDC ProTour title of 2018 in Coral UK Open Qualifier One with a brutal display of dominance at the Robin Park Tennis Centre in Wigan.
Van Gerwen scooped the £10,000 first prize in the first of six UK Open Qualifiers for professional players to win places in March’s Coral UK Open in Minehead.
Facing fellow Premier League star Michael Smith in the final, the world number one kicked things off with a flamboyant 120 finish where he scored single 20 and two bullseyes.
The next two legs went with the throw, before Van Gerwen seized the initiative as he broke on double 16.
Smith tried to hold on and picked up two more legs, but Van Gerwen raced to the finish line and sealed a 6-3 victory with a truly stunning 170 checkout.
Averaging around 105 for the entire day, Van Gerwen – who clinched four floor titles in 2017 – was at his brilliant best.
He kicked the day off with a 6-3 victory over Ian Moss, before thumping William O’Connor and Robert Thornton by a 6-1 scoreline.
Stevenson was next to feel the might of Van Gerwen in a 6-3 win, before the Premier League champion blitzed past Daryl Gurney 6-1 and Adrian Lewis 6-3.
“It has been a phenomenal day for me,” said the Dutchman, who won the 2015 and 2016 UK Opens before missing last year’s event due to a back injury.
“My worst game came against [Simon] Stevenson but other than that I played very well and averaged over 100 in every game, so I’m very happy.”
It has been an excellent start to 2018 for Van Gerwen, having lifted the Unibet Masters title and kicked off his Premier League campaign with a win against Rob Cross in Dublin on Thursday.
And there was little sign of exhaustion from the two-time UK Open champion as he clinched yet another ranking title.
“I came to the hotel [from Dublin], had a sleep, and made sure I was focused and rested,” he added. “Today it came out perfectly.
“It is nice to win days like this because it gives you a lot of confidence. Plenty of people played well against me today.
“These are very good practice for me, and there are a lot of big tournaments coming up so I need to be ready for them as well.”
Smith also followed up a Premier League win on Thursday night with an impressive Friday after crossing the Irish Sea to compete in Wigan.
Having been pushed all the way by Kevin Simm in his opening tie, Smith then overcame ProTour debutants John Goldie and Geert Nentjes to reach the last 16.
There, he overcame young German Martin Schindler 6-3, and repeated the scoreline against Kyle Anderson and reigning UK Open champion Peter Wright as he secured his spot in the decider.
Lewis’ run to the semi-finals was marred in his quarter-final victory over Spaniard Jose Justicia, with the match ending in confrontation between the two players.
Wright joined Lewis in the semi-finals, with the £2,500 prize money securing his spot in Minehead next month to defend his UK Open title.
World Champion Rob Cross was a first-game casualty as he lost out to Corey Cadby, the Australian who reached the last 32 on his ProTour debut.
Elsewhere, there was a strong run to the quarter-finals for Kim Huybrechts as he beat John Norman Jnr, Jeffrey de Graaf, Ryan Harrington and Simon Whitlock before eventually losing to Wright.
The Coral UK Open Qualifiers continue on Saturday with Qualifier Two in the second of three days of action in Wigan, with live streaming throughout the event from two boards simultaneously for PDCTV-HD Subscribers at www.pdc.tv.
Coral UK Open Qualifier One
Friday February 2, Robin Park Tennis Centre, Wigan
Michael Smith 6-3 Martin Schindler
Kyle Anderson 6-2 Matthew Edgar
Peter Wright 6-5 Gerwyn Price
Kim Huybrechts 6-5 Simon Whitlock
Daryl Gurney 6-5 Robert Owen
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Simon Stevenson
Jose Justicia 6-1 Dave Prins
Adrian Lewis 6-5 Steve Beaton
Michael Smith 6-3 Kyle Anderson
Peter Wright 6-4 Kim Huybrechts
Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Daryl Gurney
Adrian Lewis 6-5 Jose Justicia
Michael Smith 6-3 Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Adrian Lewis
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Michael Smith