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DENNIS PRIESTLEY defeated Mark Hylton 6-3 to win the Australian Open Players Championship in Sydney.

Priestley, who turned 60 last month, took the £5,000 title at the Revesby Workers Club in Sydney on Sunday - a triumph which will secure him a place in October^s World Grand Prix and edge him back towards the world^s top 16.

The two-time World Champion opened his challenge in Sydney with a whitewash of David Clegg and a 6-3 win over Heath Daley before edging out Steve Hine in a deciding leg in the last 16.

He then overcame top Australian Simon Whitlock 6-3 in the quarter-finals and edged out Paul Nicholson - last year^s Australian Open Players Championship winner - in another 11-leg tussle at the semi-final stage.

Priestley secured victory in the final with a 6-3 win over Mark Hylton, the Rugeley-based left-hander who had won through to his first PDC ProTour decider.

Hylton opened with wins over Australian pair Pat Orreal and Peter Asmussen, and then battled through a tricky path to the final - picking up wins over Robert Thornton and Mark Walsh before edging out Sean Reed 6-5 in the semis.

Although he went down in the final, Hylton^s run will almost certainly win him a World Darts Championship debut as a Players Championship Order of Merit qualifier, as well as increasing his hopes of winning a World Grand Prix spot.

Reed - who sits in the top ten of the DartPlayers Australia Order of Merit this year - claimed £1,250 for his run to the semis, which was begun with a first round defeat of former World Champion Steve Beaton and also included wins over Barry Jouannet and Preston Ridd.

Nicholson^s bid to retain the title came unstuck in the last four, after had had overcome current DPA Order of Merit leader Rob Modra in the quarter-finals.

Welshman Mark Webster joined Beaton in being a first round casualty, losing 6-4 to Mick McCreadie, while Tony Eccles and Richie Burnett went out in the last 32.

Former PDC player David Platt, who emigrated to Australia last year, reached the last 16 before losing to Whitlock.

The £22,000 Players Championship was the culmination of over a series of events in Australia, with Whitlock winning last Sunday^s Oceanic Masters and Thornton and Eccles taking Australian Grand Prix wins.

Australian Open Players Championship
Preliminary Round
Mark Anderson 6-2 Andrew Meti
Dave Platt 6-0 Kim Anderson
John Milligan 6-5 Jordan Russell
Stuart Jackson 6-3 Rod Crawford
Heath Daley 6-2 Eli Archibald
Brian Roach 6-0 Dave Fitzpatrick
Mike Merz 6-1 Brian Rowe
Aaron Petty 6-5 Alan Warriner-Little
Richie Charteris 6-0 Jeremy Fagg
Ben Gaitor 6-1 Daniel Sim
Phil Hazel 6-5 Neil Hembrow
Ray O^Donnell 6-1 Alan Hunter
Paul Neighbour 6-1 Dave Proctor
Phil Bottrell 6-1 Brian Fordham
Tony Crampton 6-5 Dean Mcgladdery
Bill Stanley 6-4 John Bunyard
Lee Tauri 6-2 Reg Tapper
Amin Abdul 6-3 Warren Ackary

First Round
Simon Whitlock 6-0 Tony Birtwistle
Mark Anderson 6-4 Bill Keogh
Bill Aitken 6-0 Bobby Holder
David Platt 6-1 John Milligan
Steve Hine 6-0 Alec Martin
Stuart Jackson 6-3 Ron Robinson
Dennis Priestley 6-0 Dave Clegg
Heath Daley 6-5 Arnel Galvez
Mick McCreadie 6-4 Mark Webster
Brian Roach 6-5 Mick Parker
Rob Modra 6-0 Daniel Brown
Mike Merz 6-3 Graham Davis
Paul Nicholson 6-1 Wayne Weening
Aaron Petty 6-2 Darren Brudenell
Shane Titchowitsch 6-1 Matt Kaletta
Jeremy Fagg 6-5 Mitchell Clegg
Sean Reed 6-4 Steve Beaton
Ben Gaitor 6-0 Tony Brown
Barry Jouannet 6-0 Mike Howis
Phil Hazel 6-0 Raymond O^Donnell
Tony Eccles 6-0 Don Whittington
Preston Ridd 6-1 Paul Neighbour
Richie Burnett 6-5 Scott Johnson
Phil Bottrell 6-4 Jerry Weyman
Robert Thornton 6-0 Glenn Hodge
Tony Crampton 6-0 Joel McMillan
Mark Hylton 6-3 Pat Orreal
Peter Asmussen 6-3 Bill Stanley
Mark Walsh 6-2 Ian Dargan
Shane Haddy 6-3 Lee Tauri
Craig Prizeman 6-1 Alan Scott
Steve Padget 6-1 Amin Abdul Ghani
Losers £100

Second Round
Simon Whitlock 6-0 Mark Anderson
David Platt 6-1 Bill Aitken
Steve Hine 6-2 Stuart Jackson
Dennis Priestley 6-3 Heath Daley
Brian Roach 6-4 Mick McCreadie
Rob Modra 6-1 Mike Merz
Paul Nicholson 6-3 Aaron Petty
Jeremy Fagg 6-2 Shane Tichowitsch
Sean Reed 6-2 Ben Gaitor
Barry Jouannet 6-4 Phil Hazell
Preston Ridd 6-4 Tony Eccles
Phil Bottrell 6-2 Richie Burnett
Robert Thornton 6-1 Tony Crampton
Mark Hylton 6-3 Peter Asmussen
Mark Walsh 6-0 Shane Haddy
Steve Padget 6-4 Craig Prizeman
Losers £200

Third Round
Simon Whitlock 6-0 David Platt
Dennis Priestley 6-5 Steve Hine
Rob Modra 6-4 Brian Roach
Paul Nicholson 6-0 Jeremy Fagg
Sean Reed 6-4 Barry Jouannet
Preston Ridd 6-0 Phil Bottrell
Mark Hylton 6-4 Robert Thornton
Mark Walsh 6-2 Steve Padget
Losers £300

Dennis Priestley 6-3 Simon Whitlock
Paul Nicholson 6-2 Rob Modra
Sean Reed 6-3 Preston Ridd
Mark Hylton 6-2 Mark Walsh
Losers £700

Dennis Priestley 6-5 Paul Nicholson
Mark Hylton 6-5 Sean Reed
Losers £1,250

Dennis Priestley 6-3 Mark Hylton
Winner £5,000
Runner-Up £2,500


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