By Paul Prenderville
Last Updated: 19/05/19 8:27pm
Glen Durrant beat Michael van Gerwen on his way to a second Players Championship title of the year on Saturday, while Harry Ward claimed Sunday’s crown.
A little less than six months into life as a fully fledged professional and Durrant, the three-time BDO world champion, is proving himself a more than worthy addition to the PDC ranks.
‘Duzza’ earned his Tour card at Q-School in January and immediately set about ruffling feathers with a run to the final in his second Players event and then an immediate Pro Tour title at Players Championship 4 in Wigan.
On Saturday Durrant secured a remarkable result in the semi-finals, hammering fellow world champion Van Gerwen 7-2 in the first-ever competitive meeting between the pair, that set him on the way to a final with Darius Labanauskas, who also suffered a comprehensive defeat as ‘Duzza’ claimed an 8-1 victory.
Durrant’s day started with 6-0 whitewashes over Matthew Edgar and Simon Stevenson, followed by 6-4 wins over Kyle Anderson and Danny Noppert before World Championship runner-up Michael Smith was dispatched by the same scoreline.
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“It feels absolutely fantastic, I can’t put into words how happy I am right now,” said Durrant, who has secured a provisional place in July’s World Matchplay along with his £10,000 first prize.
“Last weekend on the Euro Tour was really difficult to me but this weekend has been perfect. I had a fabulous week in practice and I knew I was playing well.
“I was determined to enjoy today but to win another title is pretty special. I joined the PDC for moments like this.
“Before I played Michael (van Gerwen) I asked if I could have his shirt which I immediately regretted as it showed weakness, but he didn’t play his best game and I was able to capitalise.
“I’ve totally exceeded the initial targets I set myself at the start of the year and soon my goals will be changing but I’m not putting too much pressure on myself at the moment.”
Players Championship titles 2019
|Michael van Gerwen|
|Jeffrey de Zwaan|
On Sunday, at the other end of the age spectrum, 21-year-old Harry Ward became the 10th different player to win a Players title this year when he beat Max Hopp for his first PDC title.
Like Durrant, Ward won his Tour Card at Q-School at the start of the year, and he continued his remarkable rise up the rankings with an 8-7 win over Max Hopp in the final of Players Championship 16.
The Derbyshire youngster was ranked 88th on the PDC Order of Merit at the start of play, but produced a string of impressive displays to reach his third-ranking quarter-final of the year.
Defeats of Vincent Kamphuis, Madars Razma and James Richardson led to a meeting with World Championship runner-up Michael Smith in the last 16, where a 145 finish saw him come through a deciding leg.
Another last-leg decider saw UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall beaten 6-5 and he followed up with a 7-4 win over Jose de Sousa to reach the final where he held his nerve to defeat German ace Hopp.
“This is unreal, I’m so, so happy to win this title,” said Ward, who caps four months of playing full-time on the professional circuit with a £10,000 winners prize.
“Max is a great player and it was a really tough final, and after I missed three darts for the match I began to doubt myself a bit.
“I rode my luck at times but that’s what you have to do sometimes and I’m really pleased that I made the most of it.
“I went to Q-School without expecting to win a Tour Card so to achieve what I have done over the past few months is fantastic for me, and now I want to kick on further.”
It was also a significant day for Robert Thornton, who returned to form with a win over Van Gerwen in the last 32, which he followed with the third nine-dart finish of his career in a 6-3 win over Krzysztof Ratajski.
The former World Grand Prix champion then defeated Chris Dobey to reach his first PDC semi-final in almost two years, where he was eventually defeated by Hopp.
Back-to-back quarter-final appearances across the weekend for Dobey move him into the world’s top 32 for the first time, but Peter Wright, Adrian Lewis and Corey Cadby all joined MVG, falling before the last-16 stage with Raymond van Barneveld and Saturday’s champion Durrant crashing out in the first round.
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