Last Updated: 06/07/18 9:26am
Former Lakeside finalist Jeff Smith sealed a return to the William Hill World Darts Championship by beating John Norman Jnr to win the North American Championship.
The Canadian did things the hard way having come through the qualifiers earlier in the week but in a memorable final at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas he recorded a 6-4 win over his opponent.
Smith’s win secures his the $10,000 winners prize but more importantly a place at Alexandra Palace for the World Darts Championships in December, 12 months after his debut in the PDC tournament where he beat Luke Humphries before losing out to Gary Anderson.
“It was such a great experience for me to get to go last year, and I really appreciate the PDC giving me that opportunity to play,” added Smith.
“I’ve got a little bit of experience now playing on the big stage, and I really can’t wait to get back and do it again. I’m so happy – it’s going to be awesome.
“The atmosphere there is beyond anything that I’ve ever experienced. I’ve played the Grand Slam in Wolverhampton and that was amazing but to step on that Ally Pally stage is unreal – you can’t explain it until you get up there and do it.”
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The 42-year-old from New Brunswick had plenty to overcome starting with a flight cancellation, then a start in the qualifiers as the week got underway before Friday’s success.
He firstly came from 2-0 down to defeat Ross Snook 6-5 in the quarter-finals, surviving one missed match dart from his opponent before beating American youngster Danny Lauby 6-3 in the semi-finals to set up a date with his fellow Canadian Norman Jnr in the final
“It means a lot,” said Smith. “I had to work hard all the way through. My plane came in late on the first day so I was doubtful even to get to the stage.
“I started a bit slowly today and I had to improve a lot to win this title. I’ve played John so many times and he’s such a good player.
“With the PDC doing what they’re doing here, it’s really giving us a chance and the game’s progressing. It’s been spectacular.”
Smith will be back in action over the weekend when he takes his place in the field for the Vegas leg of the World Series of Darts and has been drawn to face world no 1 Michael van Gerwen in the first round.
William Hill North American Championship
John Norman Jnr 6-0 David Cameron
Dawson Murschell 6-3 DJ Sayre
Danny Lauby 6-4 Joseph Huffman
Jeff Smith 6-5 Ross Snook
John Norman Jnr 6-5 Dawson Murschell
Jeff Smith 6-3 Danny Lauby
Jeff Smith 6-4 John Norman Jnr
Darts is back on your Sky Sports screens in July for the World Matchplay, when 16-time world champion Phil Taylor will be with us – nine days of tungsten from Blackpool get underway on Saturday, July 21 and will run through to the final on Sunday, July 29