Woodhouse Triumphs as Wright Bows Out – Player Championship Finals Under Way.

Luke Woodhouse enjoyed a dream big-stage debut at the Ladbrokes Players Championship Finals with a brilliant 6-5 win over Daryl Gurney as the tournament began in Minehead on Friday, where Peter Wright was also knocked out.

Worcestershire’s Woodhouse, 31, produced the most memorable display of his career as he came from 3-1 and 5-3 down to see off Gurney, who missed two match darts in leg nine before watching on as his opponent took out 71 in the decider.

A two-time UK Open qualifier previously, Woodhouse was appearing in front of the TV cameras for the first time but was left celebrating a breakthrough moment against the world number six.

“I’m lost for words – I’m so happy,” said Woodhouse, ranked 71st on the PDC Order of Merit. “It’s massive for me. It was daunting and it took me a couple of legs to get into the game.

“I just wanted to stick in there with him and hope that if he missed a few doubles I could take my chance, and that’s what happened. He didn’t play as well as he usually does and I took advantage of that.

“I don’t fear anybody and on my day, if I click, I really think I can beat anybody. It’s amazing to win my first game on TV – it was almost an out-of-body experience!”

Woodhouse’s win means that he now faces Gabriel Clemens in round two on Saturday afternoon, after the German thrower saw off Mark McGeeney 6-4.

World number seven Wright, meanwhile, also paid for missing match darts as he let a 5-3 lead slip against James Wilson before the Huddersfield ace took the deciding leg.

Wilson will now meet Chris Dobey, who landed a 164 checkout in a comfortable 6-1 win over Spain’s Cristo Reyes.

Michael van Gerwen landed a 170 checkout but had to overcome a scare from Luke Humphries before taking a 6-3 win to open his challenge for a fifth Players Championship Finals title.

Van Gerwen took out the maximum finish on his way to a 4-0 lead, only for Humphries to hit back to 4-3 – but the World Youth Championship finalist crucially missed two darts to level.

The World Champion capitalised to move 5-3 up before sealing victory with a 95 finish which featured two double 19s, ending the game with an average just above 100.

“It wasn’t my best performance but I had some nice finishes in there and a win is a win,” said Van Gerwen. “I did some good things early on but I wasn’t 100 percent focused, so I have to concentrate on myself and play better in the next game.”

Van Gerwen now resumes his rivalry with Adrian Lewis, who came from 6-4 down to win 6-4 against Josh Payne in their first-round tie.

Grand Slam of Darts winner Gerwyn Price – the number one seed for this event – averaged 102 in a strong showing as he defeated Mickey Mansell 6-3, and he now plays Keegan Brown, after the former World Youth Champion saw off Andy Boulton by the same scoreline.

PIC LAWRENCE LUSTIG ROUND 1 GERWYN PRICE V MICKEY MANSELL

Five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld began his penultimate tournament before retirement with a superb 99 average as he overcame UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall 6-2.

“My form is there and I can do better than this but I feel confident,” said the veteran Dutchman. “Nathan has had a great year so I was warned and he’s a phenomenal player but I play the board.

PIC LAWRENCE LUSTIG
ROUND 1 NATHAN ASPINALL V RAYMOND VAN BARNEVELD

“There’s no pressure on me and every single round is a bonus, so I just want to play as well as I can. I’m practising well and I believe in myself and everyone knows that if I play my game I can beat anyone in the world.”

Van Barneveld now meets Joe Cullen, who swept past Australia’s Kyle Anderson with a 6-2 victory which was sealed with a 121 finish.

World number two Rob Cross dropped just two legs as he defeated Ron Meulenkamp to set up a second round tie with Jamie Hughes, who was a 6-3 winner against another Dutchman, Jermaine Wattimena.

Second seed James Wade defied two ton-plus finishes from Ted Evetts before taking out 104 to seal a 6-4 win over the youngster, and the left-hander now plays Ricky Evans after the Kettering ace’s narrow 6-5 defeat of Steve Beaton.

World Championship finalist Michael Smith enjoyed a 6-1 win over Martin Schindler and now plays Brendan Dolan, who won by the same scoreline against Ross Smith in their first round tie.

Simon Whitlock produced a rousing comeback from 3-0 down to defeat Dutch prospect Jeffrey de Zwaan, who made a sensational start to their first-round contest.

However, Whitlock finished 88 and 148 in successive legs to begin his fightback, before edging to a 6-5 win in a deciding leg.

Whitlock’s second-round opponent, John Henderson, was another narrow winner as he survived missed match darts from Ryan Joyce, who was unable to convert three chances for victory in the deciding leg of their clash.

Mensur Suljovic came from 5-3 down to deny Kim Huybrechts in a decider, and the Austrian now plays Dutchman Danny Noppert, who won four straight legs from 5-2 down against Ryan Searle before taking the victory.

Suffolk left-hander Ryan Meikle enjoyed the biggest win of his young career by whitewashing Jonny Clayton, the 2017 Players Championship Finals runner-up, in an impressive victory.

The four-time Development Tour event winner’s second-round opponent will be Darius Labanauskas, with the Lithuanian having edged out Harry Ward 6-5 in their opener.

Dave Chisnall hit back from 2-1 down to reel off five straight legs in his 6-2 win over Matthew Edgar and he now plays Mervyn King, who averaged 100 in his narrow 6-5 success over Justin Pipe.

Portugal’s Jose De Sousa, a two-time Players Championship event winner in 2019, enjoyed a winning debut by defeating James Richardson 6-3, and he now plays Stephen Bunting after the St Helens ace’s 6-2 win over Dimitri Van den Bergh.

Lakeside Champion Glen Durrant overcame Scott Baker 6-2 to set up a tie with Max Hopp, who defied a 170 finish from Jelle Klaasen in a 6-3 victory.

Poland’s Krzysztof Ratajski punished Steve Lennon for 16 missed doubles in a 6-1 win which sets up a tie with another Irish ace, William O’Connor, after the World Cup finalist defeated Steve West 6-4.

Ian White was a 6-4 winner against South Africa’s Devon Petersen and now plays Dutchman Vincent van der Voort, who won by the same margin against former World Youth Champion Arron Monk.

Saturday’s play at the Butlin’s Minehead Resort sees the second round and third round split across two sessions, before the £500,000 tournament concludes on Sunday.

2019 Ladbrokes Players Championship Finals

Friday November 22

Afternoon Session

First Round

Main Stage

Stephen Bunting 6-2 Dimitri Van den Bergh

Jose de Sousa 6-3 James Richardson

Glen Durrant 6-2 Scott Baker

Max Hopp 6-3 Jelle Klaasen

Chris Dobey 6-1 Cristo Reyes

Simon Whitlock 6-5 Jeffrey de Zwaan

Michael Smith 6-1 Martin Schindler

Ian White 6-4 Devon Petersen

Stage Two

Darius Labanauskas 6-5 Harry Ward

Mervyn King 6-5 Justin Pipe

Brendan Dolan 6-1 Ross Smith

John Henderson 6-5 Ryan Joyce

Keegan Brown 6-3 Andy Boulton

Ricky Evans 6-5 Steve Beaton

Danny Noppert 6-5 Ryan Searle

Dave Chisnall 6-2 Matthew Edgar

Evening Session

First Round

Main Stage

Krzysztof Ratajski 6-1 Steve Lennon

Gerwyn Price 6-3 Mickey Mansell

James Wade 6-4 Ted Evetts

Mensur Suljovic 6-5 Kim Huybrechts

Luke Woodhouse 6-5 Daryl Gurney

Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Luke Humphries

James Wilson 6-5 Peter Wright

Raymond van Barneveld 6-2 Nathan Aspinall

Stage Two

Ryan Meikle 6-0 Jonny Clayton

Joe Cullen 6-2 Kyle Anderson

Vincent van der Voort 6-4 Arron Monk

Gabriel Clemens 6-4 Mark McGeeney

Adrian Lewis 6-4 Josh Payne

William O’Connor 6-4 Steve West

Jamie Hughes 6-3 Jermaine Wattimena

Rob Cross 6-2 Ron Meulenkamp

Saturday November 23

Afternoon Session (1245 GMT)

Second Round

Main Stage

Gerwyn Price v Keegan Brown

James Wade v Ricky Evans

Mensur Suljovic v Danny Noppert

Luke Woodhouse v Gabriel Clemens

Adrian Lewis v Michael van Gerwen

James Wilson v Chris Dobey

Raymond van Barneveld v Joe Cullen

Jamie Hughes v Rob Cross

Stage Two

Simon Whitlock v John Henderson

Ryan Meikle v Darius Labanauskas

Jose De Sousa v Stephen Bunting

Ian White v Vincent van der Voort

Krzysztof Ratajski v William O’Connor

Glen Durrant v Max Hopp

Dave Chisnall v Mervyn King

Michael Smith v Brendan Dolan

Best of 11 legs

Evening Session

Schedule TBC

Four matches per stage across two stages

ENDS