World number 88 Harry Ward won his first PDC title after beating Max Hopp 8-7 in the final of Players Championship 16 in Barnsley on Sunday.
The 21-year-old, from Swadlincote, in Derbyshire, joined the PDC’s professional circuit only at the start of this year after winning his tour card at UK Qualifying School in January.
And the former BDO World Youth Championship runner-up continued his fast progression by clinching his first-ever PDC title, edging out Hopp in a last-leg decider to scoop the £10,000 top prize.
“This is unreal, I’m so, so happy to win this title,” Ward said.
“Max is a great player and it was a really tough final, and after I missed three darts for the match I began to doubt myself a bit.
“I rode my luck at times but that’s what you have to do sometimes and I’m really pleased that I made the most of it.
“I went to Q-School without expecting to win a tour card so to achieve what I have done over the past few months is fantastic for me, and now I want to kick on further.”
Wins over Vincent Kamphuis, Madars Razma, James Richardson and PDC World Championship runner-up Michael Smith took Ward into his third ranking quarter-final of the season, where he got the better of UK Open champion Nathan Aspinall 6-5 to progress to a first semi-final.
Ward then defeated Portugal’s Jose de Sousa, who was also appearing in his first PDC semi-final, before holding off Hopp’s fight back from 6-3 down to prevail in a deciding leg.
Germany’s number one Hopp had earlier brought an end to former UK Open and World Grand Prix champion Robert Thornton’s impressive run in the semi-finals.
Thornton knocked out world number one Michael van Gerwen in the last 32 and hit a third nine-dart finish of his career in a 6-3 win over Krzysztof Ratajski, as the Scot reached a first PDC semi-final in almost two years.
Watch the Players Championship 16 final below
Players Championship 16
Robert Thornton 6-3 Krzysztof Ratajski
Chris Dobey 6-0 Jonny Clayton
Danny Noppert 6-2 Dave Chisnall
Max Hopp 6-2 Alan Tabern
Nathan Aspinall 6-2 Adrian Gray
Harry Ward 6-5 Michael Smith
Scott Taylor 6-3 John Henderson
Jose de Sousa 6-5 Vincent van der Voort
Robert Thornton 6-3 Chris Dobey
Max Hopp 6-3 Danny Noppert
Harry Ward 6-5 Nathan Aspinall
Jose de Sousa 6-1 Scott Taylor
Max Hopp 7-6 Robert Thornton
Harry Ward 7-4 Jose de Sousa
Harry Ward 8-7 Max Hopp
Listen to Episode 104 of the Weekly Dartscast podcast with special guests Steve Beaton and Stuart Pyke via the player below