FRANCIS EDGES TO EMPERORS PALACE PDC SOUTH AFRICAN OPEN WIN
Les Francis has won the Emperors Palace South African Open, defeating Devon Petersen 4-3 to win a place in the Ladbrokes.com World Darts Championship.
Gauteng^s Francis, 53, emerged the champion in the fourth staging of the South African Open, which featured 158 players at the Emperors Palace Casino in Johannesburg.
A semi-final loser last year, Francis went one better this time around to win a place in December^s Ladbrokes.com World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace in London.
He hit a 13-dart leg during the three-hour qualifying phase where all players battled to score a leg of 501 in the fewest number of darts.
He then defeated Grant Sampson 3-0 in the last 16, overcame Nolan Arendse 3-1 in the quarter-finals and edged out Port Elizabeth^s Christo Meiring in a deciding leg at the semi-final stage.
Francis then took on Devon Petersen - who had hit a 12-darter in the qualifying phase - in the final, taking a 3-1 lead before the youngster hit back to force a deciding seventh leg.
The 53-year-old proved the better man to take the title, hitting a 134 to leave 36, which he took out on double 18 to claim his country^s biggest honour.
"I^m absolutely delighted," said Francis. "Devon played really well and made it a great final but I^m so happy to have won.
"I^d like to thank the PDC and Emperors Palace for creating this tournament. It^s given South Africa^s best players a great chance and I^m looking forward to playing in the World Championship now."
The PDC South African Open also saw a welcome return to form for Cape Town^s Wynand Havenga, the inaugural winner in 2006 who has been dogged by shoulder problems since.
He also posted a 13-darter in qualifying for the knockouts, and reached the semi-finals before losing 3-2 to Petersen.
There was, though, disappointment for two-time South African Open winner Charles Losper, who missed out on qualifying after posting a 15-dart leg late on but failing to better that tally.
Sunday sees the four semi-finalists take on Phil Taylor, James Wade, John Part and Mervyn King in the Virgin Atlantic South African Masters.
That tournament will be screened live on Sky Sports from 7pm in the UK and live on SuperSport in South Africa, with play beginning at 8pm local time.
The draw and bracket for the Virgin Atlantic South African Masters is:
Phil Taylor v Christo Meiring
John Part v Devon Petersen
James Wade v Wynand Havenga
Mervyn King v Les Francis
Best of seven legs
Best of nine legs
Best of 11 legs
2009 Emperors Palace South African Open
^Saturday Frenzy^ Leading Scorers
Palace South African Masters Knockout Phase
Preliminary Round Game
Christo Meiring 3-0 Stanley Naidoo
Petersen 3-1 Paul Gormley
Jeff Waterman 3-1 Stephanus Kuhn
Adrian Petersen 3-2 Waleed Clayton
Wynand Havenga 3-2 Clint Prime
Nolan Arendse 3-2 Paul Meyer
Les Francis 3-0 Grant Samson
Jason Erasmus 3-2 Jacques Coetzee
Christo Meiring 3-0 Andrew Ross
Petersen 3-0 Jeff Waterman
Wynand Havenga 3-1 Adrian Petersen
Les Francis 3-1 Nolan Arendse
Christo Meiring 3-0 Jason Erasmus
Petersen 3-2 Wynand Havenga
Les Francis 3-2 Christo Meiring
Les Francis 4-3 Devon Petersen
Winner: Place in Ladbrokes.com World Darts Championship, plus flights and accommodation