Michael " Bullyboy " Smith European Tour Title Winner in Leipzig
RELIEVED SMITH EDGES OUT WORLD CHAMPION FOR EUROPEAN DARTS TROPHY WIN
MICHAEL SMITH claimed his first European Tour title with a thrilling 6-5 win over Michael van Gerwen in the final of the European Darts Trophy in Leipzig.
The former World Youth Champion bounced back from losing four PDC Pro Tour finals this year - including two in the past fortnight - as he picked up the biggest title of his career.
Having turned 24 last week, Smith showed his growing maturity on the big stage with wins over German favourite Jyhan Artut and Austrian newcomer Roxy-James Rodriguez as he moved into the quarter-finals.
There, he came from 4-3 down to defeat Justin Pipe 6-4 in the first of three successive games where he found himself behind.
Andy Hamilton came from two legs down to lead 3-2 in their semi-final before Smith moved 4-3 up and then took out a key 110 checkout in the ninth leg before completing another 6-4 win.
The final saw World Champion van Gerwen race into a 3-0 lead, hitting 180s in the opening two legs and a 104 finish in the third.
Smith, though, edged the fourth on double ten and hit a 180 in the fifth before punishing a missed double 11 from van Gerwen to reduce the gap to 3-2.
The Dutchman took out 68 as he regained his cushion at 4-2, but Smith followed a 14-darter with double top as he levelled before producing a stunning 158 checkout in the next to move ahead for the first time at 5-4.
Van Gerwen hit his third 180 of the final in a 13-darter as he levelled at five-all to send the final into a decider, but Smith scored 140, 100 and 141 to be first to a finish before checking out 100 on double ten for the £20,000 title.
"This is the best birthday present and I couldn't be happier," admitted Smith."I've been in good form recently, but to beat the number one in the world is something special.
"Michael missed a few shots, but I stepped in and punished him and that's part of darts. If he misses, I've got to hit because that's what these type of players do.
"It was pretty hard to come back when I was 3-0 down to the best player in the world, but I got it to four-all and checked that 158 out to break - and the 100 to win the tournament was even better."
Smith had lost out in a European Tour final to Mervyn King in Germany a fortnight earlier and has also reached three other finals during 2014, but was proud to finally claim his third PDC ProTour title.
"I've shown a lot of maturity and character in my game," he said. "It's hard to keep getting beaten but to finally get one today is the best win ever.
"Before I became a father earlier this year I was lazy, but now if I don't do the four or five hours a day practice and earn some money then he doesn't get to eat. I've got to get off my backside, and it's definitely showing in my results."
Van Gerwen had been bidding to win his fourth PDC European Tour title and a second of 2014, but had to settle for the £8,000 runner-up prize after the narrow defeat.
The Dutch star had hit two 154 checkouts in his 6-3 third round win over Wes Newton earlier on Sunday, and stormed past Simon Whitlock 6-1 with a 100 average in the quarter-finals, before enjoying a 6-2 defeat of Dean Winstanley in the last four.
Winstanley's victories over Ian White and Peter Wright on Sunday had seen him reach the semi-finals for the first time in a European Tour event, and he was joined in the last four by Andy Hamilton.
Hamilton had shown his battling qualities to reach the last four, coming from 4-0 down to defeat Brendan Dolan 6-5 in the third round before fighting back from a 2-0 deficit against Gerwyn Price in the quarter-finals, eventually taking a 6-3 triumph.
Welsh newcomer Price, a semi-professional rugby union player for Neath, enjoyed his biggest pay-day in eight months on the PDC circuit as he progressed to only his second quarter-final on the circuit, edging out Vincent van der Voort 6-5 in the third round and ending the weekend with £3,000 prize money.
Justin Pipe, Wright and Whitlock joined him in reaching the last eight, while Jelle Klaasen's 6-3 loss to Whitlock in the third round had seen his hopes of snatching qualification for next month's partypoker.com World Grand Prix ended.
The £100,000 tournament was the last of the year's eight PDC European Tour events and was streamed live online worldwide throughout three days from the Kohlrabizirkus.
Courtesy of http://www.pdc.tv/