Mighty Mike KO’s Kellett

Lawrence Lustig / PDC

Michael van Gerwen continued his incredible run of success on the PDC ProTour with a 6-1 victory over Stuart Kellett in the final of the Players Championship 2 at the Robin Park Tennis Centre in Wigan, claiming his sixth ranking title of 2013.

The Dutch star’s amazing form saw him follow up five triumphs in the Speedy Services UK Open Qualifiers by taking the £10,000 first prize as the year’s first Players Championship weekend concluded last night.

After defeating youngster Shaun Griffiths 6-4 in his opening game, van Gerwen overcame both Vincent van der Voort and Colin Lloyd 6-1 and mounted a comeback against Peter Wright as he edged out the Scot 6-5 in the quarter-finals.

He also trailed in the semis against veteran Swindon ace Dennis Smith, who led 4-3 only to see the world number two take out finishes of 161 and 114 – for a second time in the game – to move ahead before hitting double eight to complete the win.

Although he shared the opening two legs of the final against Cheshire’s emerging star Kellett, van Gerwen hit top gear with legs of 11 and 12 darts to move 4-1 up.

He followed up two earlier 180s and a 177 by landing a 171 as he took the sixth leg on double ten, after Kellett missed the bull to hit back, and then sealed a comprehensive victory with a third maximum of the game in another 11-darter as an 87 checkout secured the title with a 105.79 average.

Van Gerwen had stated following Thursday’s McCoy’s Premier League Darts win over Andy Hamilton that he intended to win “at least one” of the Players Championships in Wigan, and he said: “It’s job done for me!

“It was a very good day and I’m really happy with the win. I played very well, especially in the final, and I can be proud of my game at the moment.

“I also had a good game against Peter Wright where I was 5-3 down and came back to win the game, so when you do that you know you’re in form. I want to win a couple more of these events too this year.”

Kellett followed up his run to the final of March’s UK Masters event at the Butlins Minehead Resort by reaching his second PDC decider in fine fashion – defeating World Champion Phil Taylor 6-4 as he too came from 4-3 down in the semis.

The 31-year-old from Northwich had defeated Joe Murnan, Jamie Lewis, Andy Hamilton, Wayne Jones and Ronnie Baxter as he progressed through Sunday’s tournament, and took home £5,000 prize money to increase his chances of qualifying for July’s World Matchplay and his challenge for a top 32 spot.

Taylor’s semi-final appearance was his best finish this year on the ProTour, as he followed up two previous quarter-finals by defeating Gaz Cousins, Reece Robinson, Ricky Evans, Mark Walsh and Dave Chisnall on the day.

Taylor was joined in the last four by Swindon ace Smith, who notably overcame three-time World Champion John Part in the first round and also saw off Kevin McDine, Andy Pearce, Ted Hankey and Colin Osborne on the day.

Chisnall reached a second quarter-final of the weekend before he was defeated by Taylor, while Osborne’s run to the quarter-finals was his best performance on the circuit since last October in Killarney.

Peter Wright was in the last eight for a sixth time this year as he gave van Gerwen his toughest test of the day, and Ronnie Baxter reached his fifth quarter-final of 2013 before losing out to Kellett.

Two-time World Champion Hankey reached the Last 16 for the first time on the ProTour since last July, overcoming John Henderson, Paul Nicholson – in a game which saw him hit three ton-plus checkouts – and world number four James Wade, before he went down narrowly to Smith after missing one dart for victory in the decider.

Jamie Caven ended the hopes of Raymond van Barneveld in the third round with a brilliant 144 finish to win the deciding leg of their clash before he was edged out in the same manner by Baxter in the Last 16.

Saturday’s runner-up Ronny Huybrechts also reached round four before losing to Chisnall, with Lloyd, Jones, Walsh, Ian White and Scott Rand also progressing to that stage, while Robert Thornton’s bid to win a second Players Championship of the weekend was ended by Jones in the third round.

The next Players Championships of 2013, each worth £50,000 per tournament following this year’s increase from £35,000 per event, will be held again in Wigan on May 25 & 26.


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