Former World Masters semi-finalist Dave Kelly passes away aged 64
Former World Masters semi-finalist Dave Kelly has passed away aged 64 after losing his battle with cancer.
Kelly, who was one of the initial members of the World Darts Council which was later rebranded as the Professional Darts Corporation, acted as a prominent figure in the glory days of American darts.
The Boston-born thrower defeated the likes of Denmark’s Per Skau and Canada’s Bob Sinnaeve on his way to the World Masters last four in 1991 – where he was defeated by eventual champion Rod Harrington.
Kelly then later appeared in both the inaugural PDC World Championship and World Matchplay in 1994 as he and a number of other American players opted to switch codes.
Dave Kelly taking aim during the 1993 World Championship (Photography: BBC)
He had previously made his BDO World Championship debut in 1993, enduring a first round exit at the hands of Welshman Martin Phillips, before making two appearances at the PDC edition without success.
Kelly also lifted the prestigious Las Vegas Open and Syracuse Open titles amongst others across North America, with one of his last tournaments being the North American Darts Championship just over a decade ago.
Steve Brown handed his fellow American a narrow 4-3 defeat in the third round of the 2008 tournament, with Darin Young – who recently ousted Raymond van Barneveld in his last ever World Championship – clinching the title on that occasion.
Three-time world champion John Part of Canada led the way in paying respect to the American, saying: “Dave was a man whose talent and charisma made you believe anything was possible.
“His very presence at darts events gave the game that little bit extra that told you here is a sport, the sort of activity the best of the best can pursue with dignity.
“A fierce competitor whose passion doing so was only equalled by his magnanimity and leadership off the board.
“Dave was a beacon who easily drew people to himself and the game, and became the iconic American leader who rallied his compatriots to accept nothing less than equality in the world of darts, both by example and spirit. The ultimate teammate is gone.”
Dave Kelly pictured alongside major champions John Part and Larry Butler
Parr’s fellow three-time world champion, John Lowe, payed tribute via social media: “I have known Dave for many years, he always kept in touch, a great dart player and representative of America. Rest in peace my friend.“
Legendary commentator John Gwynne said: “How very sad to learn of the death of Dave Kelly, one of the 24 who played in the very first PDC World Championship in 93/94 and a few more events in those early days. A most likeable man.”
Former women’s number one Linda Duffy also provided her condolences: “RIP Dave Kelly. Taken last night way too soon. A great fella, fantastic friend and a formidable opponent on the dartboard. Represented the USA on numerous occasions. You will be missed, Dave.”
The aforementioned American, Brown, reminisced: “Dave was a great friend, and I had to opportunity to play with him on a number of occasions.
“My favourite personal memory was when we won the Men’s 301 Doubles at the 1994 North American Open, beating Bob Anderson and Shayne Burgess in a thrilling final.”
Former Australian Grand Masters champion Russell Stewart said: “Sad to learn that another wonderful darts player has passed away.
“A terrific fella and great friend. Dave Kelly – a USA darts team member and true gentleman. Rest in paradise, Dave.”
(Photography: Bull’s Eye News)