Iceman Price dazzles at PDC Winter Series to secure eighth seasonal title in Coventry
Gerwyn Price narrowly defeated Australian Damon Heta to secure his eighth title of the season on Day Three of the PDC Winter Series at the Ricoh Arena.
Despite a slight hangover from his triumphant World Cup of Darts campaign with Wales and two early exits in Coventry, Price scooped the £10,000 winner’s cheque on Thursday evening.
After receiving a bye following the withdrawal of Gary Anderson through injury, the world number three survived a scare in the second round at the hands of Hull-based Reece Robinson.
Former world youth master Robinson constructed a 5-3 advantage against the Welshman, but Price battled back to prevail, averaging over 101 compared to his opponent’s 99.
The two-time Grand Slam of Darts champion subsequently dropped a solitary leg in overcoming both Ireland’s Gavin Carlin and Jeff Smith of Canada, hitting a magnificent 164 checkout against the Irishman.
Price then defeated former world champion Stephen Bunting to seal his place in the semi-finals – where he denied William O’Connor with an average in excess of the 98 mark.
It was yet another closely contested final at the Winter Series, with the Markham man narrowly pipping reigning Brisbane Darts Masters champion Heta in a deciding leg thriller.
Price opened proceedings with an 87 checkout to round off an 11-darter, only to narrowly miss his favourite double tops for a 104 checkout and then stray into the double 15, opening the door for the Australian in the process.
Heta jumped on the opportunity, eventually pinning double four to level up at one apiece, before proceeding to find an 11-dart leg of his own to gain a slender advantage.
The Welshman would restore parity at two-all, prior to the next six legs going the way of throw, with crucial combination checkouts of 74, 52 and 46 keeping Heta’s hopes of a third PDC crown alive.
Nevertheless, with scores level at five apiece, Price pulled off a pivotal break of throw to lead for the first time since the opening leg, much to the disappointment of Perth-born Heta.
Heta, who claimed his maiden ranking title in the professional ranks at the Autumn Series, would break back thanks to multiple missed darts at double from Price, though, his fortunate was subsequently scuppered.
Four treble-less visits in the eleventh leg and spurned attempts on the outer ring in the twelfth handed Price an 8-6 victory and his second title in the space of five days.
In spite of missing out at the hands of the world number three in the final, it was an afternoon of valiant efforts for Heta after the Australian produced a series of stunning showings.
The 33-year-old averaged over or around the 100 mark leading up to the semi-finals, overcoming Adrian Lewis, Niels Zonneveld, Justin Pipe, Ross Smith and Krzysztof Kciuk, before denying Callan Rydz.
It was an unprecedented run from Bedlington youngster Rydz as he defeated world champion Peter Wright’s conquerer Simon Whitlock in the quarter-finals to reach the last four on the ProTour for the first time.
Elsewhere, Ross Smith ended the 16-match winning streak of Michael Smith in the third round following the former World Championship finalist’s back-to-back titles on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Tuesday’s finalist Jermaine Wattimena was ousted in the second round at the hands of Steve Brown, but the fast-throwing Dutchman remains on course to qualify for the Grand Slam of Darts via the Autumn Series Order of Merit.
Poland’s Kciuk reached his maiden quarter-final on the ProTour, months after winning his professional tour card, while his countryman Krzysztof Ratajski departed in round one for the second successive tournament.
Jose de Sousa, a narrow runner-up on Wednesday, also endured a first round exit, as did the likes of former world champion Rob Cross, Devon Petersen and Dave Chisnall.
Day Four of the PDC Winter Series takes place on Friday afternoon, with the return of world number one Michael van Gerwen expected at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.
PDC WINTER SERIES DAY THREE
Players Championship 21
Ricoh Arena, Coventry
Thursday November 12
Gerwyn Price 6-0 Jeff Smith
Stephen Bunting 6-4 Jan Dekker
Ryan Searle 6-4 Madars Razma
William O’Connor 6-5 Jonny Clayton
Callan Rydz 6-5 Simon Whitlock
Ian White 6-3 Vincent van der Voort
Krzysztof Kciuk 6-3 Nathan Aspinall
Damon Heta 6-4 Ross Smith
Gerwyn Price 6-4 Stephen Bunting
William O’Connor 6-3 Ryan Searle
Callan Rydz 6-2 Ian White
Damon Heta 6-2 Krzysztof Kciuk
Gerwyn Price 7-3 William O’Connor
Damon Heta 7-5 Callan Rydz
Gerwyn Price 8-6 Damon Heta
(Featured Image: Lawrence Lustig/PDC)