Simon Whitlock wins his third PDC ranking title of 2017

Simon Whitlock has continued his superb run of form by winning his third PDC ranking title of 2017, beating Darren Johnson 6-3 to win Sunday’s Players Championship Four at the Barnsley Metrodome.

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The Australian, who won two UK Open Qualifiers in February, started his run with victories over Scott Darbyshire, Devon Petersen and Andy Jenkins before beating last weekend’s UK Open runner-up, Gerwyn Price, 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals.

There, two-time World Champion Gary Anderson missed match darts before the Australian recovered to edge the tie 6-5. Whitlock followed this with victory against Kim Huybrechts in the semi-final to setup a showdown with surprise package Darren Johnson.

Johnson enjoyed his best ever run on the PDC Pro Tour, having previously reached a semi-final six years ago.

He began his fine run with victories over Dave Chisnall and Raymond van Barneveld, who are both in the top eight of the PDC Order of Merit. Johnson followed this by beating Jimmy Hendriks, Benito van de Pas and Steve Hine to reach the last four.

The man from Mexborough faced Michael van Gerwen in the semi-finals and found himself 5-3 up when the world number one staged a comeback. Johnson held his nerve though and took the deciding leg in 13 darts to knock the Green Machine out.

The final belonged to Whitlock though and this time it was Johnson’s turn to stage an unsuccessful comeback, with the Australian 5-1 up.

Johnson managed to get the score back to 5-3 but The Wizard just had too much for him, pulling away with his scoring power before finding double two to win the tournament and take home £10,000.

Elsewhere, Joe Cullen hit his first competitive nine-darter and the weekend’s second, following Kim Huybrecht’s effort on Saturday, against Jim Brown in the second round. Two maximums were followed by a 141 finish on double 18 to seal the perfect leg. Cullen was defeated in the following round by Steve West.

Saturday’s Players Championship Three winner Rob Cross could only reach the last 32, as he was defeated by Ian White.

The Players Championship moves on to Arena MK in Milton Keynes next, on the weekend of April 1-2.

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