After more than 20 years as a darts professional, Kevin Painter has done it!
He has won one of the sport’s big TV crowns – beating Mark Webster 13-9 in the final of the Players Championship.
“I always knew I could do it!” he said. “Believe me, this means the world. It is reward for all the years of never giving up.”
Painter’s triumph pockets him £60,000, guarantees him a spot at the Grand Slam of Darts and catapults him back into the world’s top 10!
He is now No.9 in the PDC Order of Merit and the Unicorn star deserves his magical moment.
After being a dart away from defeat in the semi-finals, when he came from 6-9 down to beat Scott Rand 10-9, it was vintage Painter in the final against the Welshman.
Precise, professional and in the end, just about perfect from ‘The Artist’ who was playing in only his second TV ‘Major’ Final….remember, the first was that 2004 World Championship Final defeat to Phil Taylor.
After falling 3-4 behind in the final, he came up with a golden spell of tungsten, averaging over 100 for the rest of the match!
What followed was some of the best darts of Painter’s career.
180 after 180….a 101 finish, two 11 darters, two 12 dart legs and twice he was on a 9 darter after hitting back-to-back maximums at the start of legs!
He won nine legs out of 12 to blow Webster away…..there were five 180s in five legs, another 11 darter and back to back finishes of 110 and 104.
In fact a 65 per cent check-out success rate in the final tells its own story!
Nine 180s in all….at 12-7, Webster got a couple of legs back but there was no way Painter was going to be denied his big title and the sweetest D16 of his life confirmed that 13-9 victory.
“It really is an incredible feeling,” Painter added.
“If someone had said to me at the start of the tournament that I would win it, I would have thought they were mad!” he joked.
“But I had a bit of luck along the way against Anderson, King and Rand and you need a bit of that to win a big tournament – that’s what Eric Bristow told me a long time ago!”
“I hope it is the start of something special for me – let’s hope so. But I know it is up to me to make sure that this isn’t just a one-off.”
It will be a very popular win in the wide world of darts.
In the semi-finals, Painter produced an amazing comeback to beat Rand in a deciding leg! It was incredible drama….
The only time that Painter was in front was when he hit the match winning D8, as he came from 6-9 down to snatch a 10-9 victory.
Rand actually missed two darts at D16 to win it 10-7 but the nerves got the better of him, as Painter pounced.
Wes Newton was agonisingly close to a second ‘Major’ TV Final of the year, but Webster’s finishing was the difference….a 50% check-out success rate was impressive enough.
The Unicorn star was desperately disappointed, because for a long time it looked like he was on his way to PDC ‘Major’ glory…..Newton made history hitting back-to-back 170 finishes in his quarter-final success against Mark Walsh, but was always chasing the game against the Welshman.
He was never in front….Webster raced 3-0 clear after Newton missed three darts at doubles in the early stages….he got it back to 2-3, before slipping 2-5 behind, but then hit three 180s and a brilliant 138 finish to get within a leg.
However when he throwing to make it 5-5, Newton produced arguably his worst leg of the match in scoring terms and just couldn’t pressurise the Webster throw.
From 6-4, the next seven legs all went with throw and that was enough for Webster.
BUT TAKE A BOW KEVIN PAINTER…..you’ve finally realised a darting dream!
Kevin Painter 13-9 Mark Webster
Winner - £60,000
Runner-up - £24,000
Mark Webster 10-7 Wes Newton
Kevin Painter 10-9 Scott Rand
Losers - £15,000
Wes Newton 9-5 Mark Walsh
Scott Rand 9-5 James Wade
Kevin Painter 9-7 Mervyn King
Mark Webster 9-8 Dave Chisnall
Losers - £10,000
By STUART PYKE at the Doncaster Dome
Photos courtesy Lawrence Lustig/PDC and Chris Sargeant.
Kevin with Unicorn Exec Matt Rankin
Kevin with his trophy