JONNY CLAYTON WINS 2016 WORTHINGTON’S CHAMPION OF CHAMPIONS
Pembrokeshire darts ace picks up £5,000 winner’s cheque
Jonny Clayton has been crowned the 2016 Worthington’s Champion of Champions winner, beating a field of 256 players from across the country in an almost faultless display of match play darts.
The best-of-three 501 leg competition, which is sponsored and organised by Red Dragon Darts and Molson Coors, mirrors the format of the iconic News of the World event. To qualify for the finals held in Cardiff, and earn the chance to take on some of the best-known names in the sport, players first had to win a qualifying heat.
Clayton, who fits darts around his full-time job as a plasterer for Pembrokeshire Council, beat former world champion, Richie ‘The Prince of Wales’ Burnett, 2-1 in a closely contested semi to set up a final with Yorkshire’s Tony Darlow who earned his place by beating beat Craig Gilchrist.
The leg he lost to Burnett – his only one of the day – proved to be the spur Clayton needed in the final.
"Losing that first leg against Richie made me realise just how important it is to be switched on 100% right from the start. In a best-of-three format you can’t afford to have even three darts to settle in,” says world-ranked 64 Clayton who plays on the PDC Pro Tour.
Having won the bullseye at the start of the final, Clayton hit his stride as soon as his toe touched the oche, firing in opening scores of 140, 140 and 100. It took Darlow until his twelfth dart before he hit a big treble, only for Clayton to clear up tops in two darts for a 13 dart opening leg.
It was a similar story in the second leg. Though he had the darts, Darlow struggled again to find the treble bed. His opening score of 42 was pounced on by Clayton with another 140, quickly followed up by an 85 and another 140. By the time the Yorkshireman had managed to get himself down to a 170 check out shot, Clayton had already had shots at 136 and 92. Having missed a dart at double 18 to go out in 15 darts, he returned to take out double nine with his third dart.
"It’s strange. I was nervous in the semis but when it came to finals I was a lot calmer,” says Clayton. "Of course I wanted to win but I thought to myself that by reaching the finals I’d already achieved something and that helped me relax.”
Simon Hall, head of marketing for Red Dragon Darts, said "Jonny was simply outstanding throughout the whole day and totally deserved his win. Having played for Wales and spent a year on the PDC Pro Tour, his experience of the big stage proved to be the difference.”