James Wade marked his 36th birthday by winning Players Championship 9 – his first floor title since July 2015 – at the Barnsley Metrodome today.
The world number nine, who won two televised events towards the end of 2018, picking up the European Championship and World Series of Darts Finals titles, defeated fellow Premier League player Michael Smith 8-2 in the final.
Wade, who currently sits fourth in the Premier League table, averaged 98.61 across the day and hit 13 180s.
The 36-year-old’s run to the £10,000 top prize started with a 102 average in a 6-3 win over former world champion Mark Webster, and then came a 6-2 victory against another ex-Lakeside winner Christian Kist in the last 64.
Back-to-back 100+ averages followed in wins over Peter Hudson (6-0) and Arron Monk (6-3), before Wade edged through last-leg deciders to see off Adrian Lewis, the Players Championship 8 winner, and Scott Baker.
An 8-2 triumph against Smith in the final secured the title, a first of 2019, and 31st of Wade’s PDC career.
“This win means a lot to me, perhaps it would’ve meant even more a year ago but it still means a lot because I haven’t been winning things,” he said.
“I’m so, so happy to win this, people don’t know how happy I am and now I’m excited and looking forward to the future.
“I’ve been playing well for a long time now but haven’t quite been getting the rub of the green, but today I’ve had a bit of a touch by scraping past Adrian.
“I still think I’m underachieving for my ability but it’s about turning up every morning and being hungry, which I am.”
The tournament saw the return of Corey Cadby to the main PDC circuit but, after beating James Richardson 6-5 in the first round, the former world youth champion lost with a 100+ average in a 6-2 defeat to Vincent van der Voort in the last 64.
New tour card holder Mark McGeeney hit a nine-dart finish during his 6-3 win over Adam Hunt in the first round, while Raymond van Barneveld suffered a disappointing return to action, after his retirement u-turn, losing 6-4 to Gary Eastwood in the first round.
Players Championship 9 Stats
Highest Tournament Averages
99.07 – Mensur Suljovic (lost in the first round)
98.81 – Jamie Hughes (lost in the second round)
98.65 – Nathan Derry (lost in the first round)
98.61 – James Wade (winner)
98.14 – Brendan Dolan (lost in the first round)
Highest Individual Match Averages
110.5 – Max Hopp (6-3 vs Glen Durrant – third round)
107.3 – Michael Smith (7-5 vs Steve West – semi-finals)
106.1 – Steve Beaton (6-0 vs Madars Razma – first round)
105.2 – Steve West (5-7 vs Michael Smith – semi-finals)
105.0 – Ross Smith (6-3 vs John Michael – second round)
23 – Michael Smith, Steve West
14 – Adrian Lewis
13 – James Wade
12 – Steve Beaton, Danny Noppert, Max Hopp, Scott Baker
Highest Checkout Percentages
60% – Mark Webster (3/5)
53% – Yordi Meeuwisse (8/15)
51% – James Wade (45/89)
50% – Michael Smith (39/78)
50% – Kevin Burness (5/10)
Stats courtesy of DartConnect