Raymond van Barneveld beats Rob Cross, Mervyn King and in-form Joe Cullen on way to first PDC ranking title in eight years; final day of action in Bolton takes place on Sunday as the PDC 2021 season starts with four Pro Tour competitions
Last Updated: 27/02/21 8:50pm
Raymond van Barneveld sealed his first PDC ranking title since 2013 just three days into his ProTour comeback as he beat Joe Cullen 8-6 in a thrilling final at Saturday’s Players Championship event.
The Dutchman finished off 12 with a clutch final dart having come from 3-1 and 4-2 down against a red-hot Cullen, who had looked on course to continue an outstanding week after beating Jonny Clayton in Thursday’s final.
Van Barneveld underlined his class with a 144 checkout to break back and tie the match at 5-5 before punishing three missed darts for the break from Cullen to move within two of the victory.
Barney then invited his opponent to draw level with two wayward break darts of his own, but kept his calm to wrap it up over the next two legs and end a short wait for success since his decision to come out of retirement.
PDC Super Series 1: Players Championship 3 Results
|Quarter-Finals||Joe Cullen 6-2 Krzysztof Ratajski|
|Jonny Clayton 4-6 Danny Noppert|
|Raymond van Barneveld 6-2 Alan Soutar|
|Glen Durrant 1-6 Ian White|
|Semi-Finals||Joe Cullen 7-3 Danny Noppert|
|Raymond van Barneveld 7-3 Ian White|
|Final||Joe Cullen x-x Raymond van Barneveld|
🇳🇱 𝗕𝗔𝗥𝗡𝗘𝗬. 𝗜𝗦. 𝗕𝗔𝗖𝗞 👁️🐅
It’s a fairytale return for Raymond van Barneveld who takes the title at Players Championship Three and after making his return to professional darts, he’s already back in the winner’s circle! 🏆
Congratulations Raymond! 👏 pic.twitter.com/WNlUQkgPOe
— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) February 27, 2021
The 53-year-old’s path to the final opened with a 6-3 win over Krzysztof Kciuk, followed by a tense match-up with Rob Cross as he came from 5-4 down and survived a match dart to beat Voltage 6-5. A 105.7 average guided him to a 6-1 victory over Darius Labanauskas in the last 16, before convincing performances against Alan Soutar and Ian White pitted him against a cruising Cullen.
Having received a bye in round one, Cullen began his day with a win over Rowby-John Rodriguez before beating Ricky Evans and Daryl Gurney to reach the quarter-finals.
A 6-2 win over the dangerous Krzysztof Ratajski carved a route to the last four, where he dominated Danny Noppert 7-3 to set up an enthralling showdown with the former world champion.
“Not winning a competition last week in Germany, it went too soon for me, all the arrangements, I got my tour card and then a lot of stress to come over here, planning, planning, planning,” said Van Barneveld. “The first day I played Stephen Bunting, a semi-finalist at the World Championship, I’m thinking ‘come on PDC’, then yesterday one good game and lost to Danny Noppert who hit a 15-darter and today it all went right.
“I had the focus I never had for the last two or three years. Joe played amazing and I took my chances and I’m so happy.
“I was focused on that tour card and then suddenly I came here and was like ‘wow, this is another level’ and I’m thinking ‘can I do this again?’. Believe? Of course I believe. I can’t express how happy I am.
“This last year I went ‘Raymond, can I do this?’ and I can do this. It all starts with belief. You have to start from scratch. I was an amateur last week, it’s so weird. Then one week later I’m winning on the pro tour, that’s what you can do if you believe in yourself.”
Mensur Suljovic meanwhile continued the nine-dart streak this week as he made it three straight days of perfect legs to follow up that of Adrian Lewis and Michael Smith on Thursday and Friday.
MVG crashes out early
It was a miserable start to the day for Michael van Gerwen as the former World No 1 suffered a 6-3 defeat to Labanauskas in the opening round.
The Dutchman was knocked out by Welshman Lewis Williams on day one after victories over Matthew Edgar and Mark McGeeney, before losing 6-1 to Jonny Clayton in the last 16 on Friday.
There was also a round one defeat for Smith as he lost 6-5 to Eddie Lovely, while Nathan Aspinall, who reached the semi-finals on day two, was taken out by Soutar.
World champion Gerwyn Price was meanwhile missing due to an ear infection having lost 6-5 to world No 96 to Aaron Beeney on Thursday.
Wade with stunning display
James Wade delivered one of the performances of the day early on as he white-washed Daniel Larsson 6-0 in round one with a stunning 114 average.
The former Premier League champion followed it up with another 6-0 win in the last 64, this time against Luke Woodhouse, before beating Bunting to reach the last 16, where he was eventually beaten by White.
High averages were not always the recipe to success, though, with Damon Heta losing to Ron Meulenkamp with a 109 display, Jermaine Wattimena being eliminated by Keane Barry with a 104.47 and Dimitri van den Bergh losing to Bunting with a 111 average.
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||Sunday February 28|
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Joe Cullen overcame the in-form Jonny 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.
In the interim, the Ferret had sealed the last Premier League spot, by virtue of his maiden major triumph. But it was the Rockstar 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.
Raymond van Barneveld was beaten by Stephen Bunting in his first PDC appearance following his Q-School success in Germany last week but world champion Gerwyn Price, Michael van Gerwen and Peter Wright had a sluggish start to the new season.
Callan Rydz defeated Jonny 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.
For recently-crowned Masters champion Clayton it marked his second straight loss in the final this week following Thursday’s 8-7 defeat to Joe Cullen.
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.
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