STUNNING VAN GERWEN RETAINS CORAL UK OPEN TITLE
NINE-DART hero Michael van Gerwen retained the Coral UK Open with an imperious 11-4 win over Peter Wright in Sunday^s final at the Butlins Minehead Resort to continue his incredible start to 2016.
The Dutch superstar followed up Saturday^s stunning nine-dart finish against amateur Rob Cross, which also featured two of four 170 checkouts he would land during the event, by powering to the £60,000 title in Sunday^s finals day.
He firstly overcame the event^s last remaining amateur ace, Essex^s Barry Lynn, with a 10-6 quarter-final win before coming from 4-1 down to defeat great rival Phil Taylor by the same scoreline in the semis.
He then produced a master-class against Wright in a repeat of the 2015 final as he again swept to victory with a relentless display, taking charge with an early 4-1 lead before the Scot pulled back to 5-3.
A 105 finish from van Gerwen was followed by finishes of 88, 76 and 74 as he took five straight legs to move to the brink of victory, with Wright taking the 14th leg and the missing double 12 for a sensational nine-darter, only to see the Dutchman step in to complete victory with a 64 finish.
"I played really well and I^m really pleased to win another trophy," said van Gerwen, who has now won six PDC events during 2016 and averaged 106.68 in the final. "I had four 170 finishes, a nine-darter and won the tournament so it^s fantastic.
"I^m working really hard and I^m glad it^s paying off at the moment. I love this game and I love winning, this is a wonderful feeling.
"Peter is growing into one of the best players there is and he^s getting better and better - but I^m glad I beat him today. I did the right thing at the right moment and he^s a fantastic player, and sooner or later he is going to win a tournament."
Wright was left to claim the £30,000 runner-up cheque for the second successive year as his quest for a maiden major title continues, and the world number five said: "He^s the best player on the planet.
"I^m disappointed that I didn^t give him more of a game but I will work harder to try and get to Michael^s level. He^s a machine at the moment.
"It is coming for me - I learn every time I lose against these guys and it might take a little time but I will get there."
Taylor, a five-time UK Open champion, was joined in reaching the semi-finals by Dutch ace Jelle Klaasen, who followed up his run to the last four of the World Championship in the New Year with another strong display.
He hit back from 4-1 down against Wright to pull back to 6-5, but crucially missed two darts to level the semi-final as the Scot capitalised before pulling clear to seal a 10-5 win with a 127 checkout.
Klaasen, though, moves up to a career-high tenth on the PDC Order of Merit after picking up £17,000 in prize money, and said: "I^m disappointed at the moment but I^m happy with how the weekend went for me.
"I had a lot of chances and didn^t take them. My doubles didn^t go in during the semi-final and Peter was the better player and deserved to be in the final. I^ll be back, and I^ll work harder and be back a better player."
Taylor^s run to the last four also saw him jump back above 2014 UK Open champion Adrian Lewis to third in the PDC Order of Merit, while Wright moved ahead of James Wade to return to fifth place.
The 128-player Coral UK Open was held at the Butlins Minehead Resort in Somerset, with play across eight stages simultaneously in the early rounds as professional stars and Rileys Amateur Qualifiers competed live on ITV4.
Butlins Big Weekend Packages for the Cash Converters Players Championship Finals from November 25-27 are available now through www.bigweekends.com/darts.
Coral UK Open
Sunday March 6
Peter Wright 10-5 Jelle Klaasen
Michael van Gerwen 10-6 Phil Taylor
Michael van Gerwen 11-4 Peter Wright
Peter Wright v Jelle Klaasen
1-0 - Wright lands double five to claim the opening leg, with Klaasen waiting on 20.
1-1 - Wright misses tops for a 119 finish, and Klaasen hits the same bed to level.
2-1 - Double eight edges Wright back ahead.
3-1 - The pair trade 180s before Wright hits double eight to break throw.
4-1 - Klaasen lands his second 180, but misses two darts at double 14 to allow Wright in to finish double ten - with his third dart - to move three legs clear.
5-1 - Double 16 sees Wright claim another break of throw.
5-2 - Klaasen opens with a 180 before Wright replies in kind, only to miss the bull for a 161 finish to allow the Dutchman in to land double 18 for a brilliant ten-darter.
5-3 - Wright misses double 16, and Klaasen steps in on tops to continue his revival.
6-3 - Double 16 sees Wright restore his three-leg lead.
6-4 - Wright misses double 16 to take out 94, and Klaasen pins double 18 to hit back.
6-5 - The pair trade 180s, but Wright^s missed doubles in three visits to the board allow Klaasen in on double one to cut the gap to one leg.
7-5 - Klaasen sees his chance to level go begging, with the pair trading 180s again before the Dutchman misses double 18 and nine, allowing Wright in on double ten.
8-5 - Wright finishes 68 on double four to move three legs clear once again.
9-5 - Double 16 sees Wright break throw once again to move a leg away from the final.
10-5 - Wright seals his return to the Coral UK Open final with a 127 checkout, ending on double eight.
Michael van Gerwen v Phil Taylor
0-1 - Taylor finishes 107 on double 16 to win the opening leg.
0-2 - Taylor lands double eight to secure an immediate break of throw.
0-3 - Taylor posts the game^s first 180 before hitting double four to claim his third leg.
1-3 - Double 12 gives van Gerwen his first leg of the match.
1-4 - van Gerwen hits two 180s but misses the bull to finish 84, and Taylor follows a maximum of his own by posting double 13 for an 11-darter.
2-4 - van Gerwen lands a 180 before responding with double four.
3-4 - van Gerwen posts another maximum to leave 64 before taking out the combination on tops to break throw.
4-4 - Double 16 sees van Gerwen level with a third successive leg.
4-5 - Taylor responds with a 180 and double 16 to regain the lead.
5-5 - A sensational 151 checkout from van Gerwen sees him square the contest again.
6-5 - van Gerwen kicks off with a 177 before punishing two misses from Taylor by landing double eight to break throw and move back ahead.
7-5 - The Dutch star opens with two 180s, with Taylor replying with a maximum but unable to prevent the world number one from taking out 76.
8-5 - Double ten sees van Gerwen break throw again to open up a three-leg lead.
9-5 - Tops moves the reigning champion a leg away from victory.
9-6 - Taylor takes out 86 on double 18 to keep his hopes alive.
10-6 - van Gerwen fires in a 180 before finishing double eight to seal his spot in the final.
Peter Wright v Michael van Gerwen
0-1 - The pair trade 180s in the opening leg before van Gerwen holds throw on double 16.
1-1 - Wright opens with 140 and 180 before levelling on double 16.
1-2 - Wright lands another 180, but van Gerwen pins double 12 to edge back ahead.
1-3 - van Gerwen breaks throw with the aid of a 177 and double 16.
1-4 - van Gerwen fires in a second 180 before escaping from five missed doubles by returning on double three, after Wright wires two darts at tops to steal the leg.
2-4 - Wright takes out 61 to hit back with his second leg of the game.
2-5 - Double 16 sees van Gerwen regain his three-leg cushion.
3-5 - Wright returns from missing the bull for a 161 checkout to claim the leg and respond once more.
3-6 - van Gerwen lands a 180 and a 105 checkout to push clear.
3-7 - van Gerwen opens with a 177 and punishes Wright for a miss at double 16, for a 146 finish, by taking out 88 on double 14.
3-8 - The world number one opens with a 180 before moving three legs away from the title on double two.
3-9 - van Gerwen^s relentless charge towards victory continues with a sixth 180 and a 76 finish.
3-10 - van Gerwen takes out 74 in two darts to move to the brink of the title, maintaining an average of almost 108.
4-10 - van Gerwen misses three match darts, and double four sees Wright keep his hopes alive.
4-11 - Wright misses double 12 for a nine-dart finish - hitting 180, 180 and treble 20 and treble 19 - only to also miss two more doubles for the leg as van Gerwen steps in to finish 64 for the title.