The Menace is back
DENNIS Priestley crowned a remarkable six months which began with prostate cancer surgery as he battled fatigue to lift the Bristol Trade Centre Players Championship on Sunday.
The Mexborough Menace took out 156 to win the final against Kevin Painter and seal his first tournament win in more than a year.
But the 57-year-old stressed that it was just one win and there is much left to be done.
He said: "There^s an old saying one swallow does not make a summer. I won and that^s it. I suppose winning can be infectious like Phil Taylor keeps doing but I^m not putting any great shakes on it.
"I was delighted for my friends and my son who was with me all weekend. It^s so tiring for me at present when you^ve got to be there for ten o^clock and it was gone half seven before we finished."
"My first game of the day was on the main stage and I played really well. That was nice. Then I went down onto the floor, on to board 12. It^s hard and tiring being down on the floor all day but I won my board then played Steve Hine who had just knocked out Roland Scholten."
Priestley had a scare when Hine had one dart at a double to take the match but the Coventry thrower missed allowing The Menace to demonstrate his growing good form by checking out 160 to level at two sets all before sealing a 3-2 win and a quarter final clash with Colin Osbourne, who had just triumphed over Phil Taylor.
Another 3-2 win saw Priestley sneak past Osbourne before a semi final clash with UK Open champion James Wade, who he also dispatched 3-2 to reach the final along with Painter.
Priestley said: "I went 2-0 up in the final double quick and he never had a chance. But he plugged back, taking out the important doubles and leaving it to the last set. I had the darts in the last set and took the first game. In the second I took out 156 to win the match."
The victory sealed The Menace^s first tournament win since the UK Open South West Regional Final in February 2007, ironically also in Bristol.
He added: "What winning does it gives you more confidence so if you keep winning your confidence will be sky high. Knowing that I can still win at the top level is a boost but I played well and that^s what you^ve got to do to beat the best."
Priestley held off the challenge of three rivals to claim the last automatic spot for the PartyPoker.net Las Vegas Desert Classic VII with his performance at the UK Open earlier this month.
But Priestley said that he would have not made the trip to Las Vegas if he had not qualified automatically.
He said: "If I hadn^t stayed in the top 12 I would not have gone.
Don^t get me wrong I wouldn^t say to anybody to not go to Vegas but when you^ve been 20 times it gets a bit much."
The top 12 players from the PDC Order of Merit are entered directly for the event at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino from July 2-6 which has evolved into one of the pinnacles of the darts calendar.
Priestley^s £1000 haul from his third round appearance at the UK Open in Bolton saw him secure the 12th and final place as Ronnie Baxter, Alan Tabern and Kevin Painter failed to make up the ground.
Tabern^s performance in Bolton ensured that it would be a close run thing but he was defeated in the quarter final by eventual winner James Wade, cementing the Mexborough Menace^s place in Vegas.
Sealing the automatic spot was little consolation for Priestley who has disappointed with his performance at the Reebok.
He said: "I played well on the Thursday but I was very disappointed on the Friday. Playing so well in the US Open was probably why I was so disappointed with Friday^s showing at the Reebok. I thought I^d sorted a few things out but they were still there."
The 12 automatic qualifiers will be joined by four North American qualifiers while the 16 other places will be decided through the Desert Classic Qualifiers on June 30 and July 1.
Story By: South Yorkshire Times