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Mike Smith Reigns In Spain, defeating Justin pipe in the Final

MICHAEL SMITH won his second professional title with victory in Sunday's Spanish Darts Classic Players Championship in Benidorm, denying Justin Pipe a weekend double with a 6-3 win in the final.
 

The 21-year-old from St Helens had won a UK Open Qualifier last February in Barnsley, and picked up the £6,000 first prize from the second PDC ProTour event of 2012.

Having missed double 12 for a nine-dart finish during a defeat to Pipe during Saturday's Players Championship, Smith gained revenge against the Taunton ace with a 6-3 win in Sunday's decider at Benidorm's Melia Hotel.

After edging two of the first three legs in the final, Smith secured the first break of throw with a brilliant fourth leg, hitting a 180 and taking out a 130 checkout on double five.

Tops in the next moved him into a 4-1 lead before Pipe finished double ten and landed a 180 and a 121 checkout to pull back to within a leg.

Pipe, though, crucially missed a dart at double 18 to level as Smith held his nerve on double ten to lead 5-3, and he posted double four to secure the victory.

Smith had started the day with wins over Jose Luis Torres and Magnus Caris before seeing off Paul Nicholson, Peter Wright and St Helens rival Dave Chisnall to reach the semi-finals.

World number three James Wade hit a 161 finish in taking a 3-2 lead, but Smith hit back to win four of the next five and move into the final.

The youngster - who lost 3-0 to Co Stompe on his World Championship debut in December - broke down in tears after the final as he celebrated a triumph which puts him in pole position to qualify for a return to Alexandra Palace as well as the year's other majors.

"It means so much for me to win this," said Smith, who is nicknamed "Bully Boy".

"I was so disappointed after the World Championship that I didn't want to pick up my darts again, but my Dad made me watch the game four or five times and after a week off I got back on the board.

"I've come into this year with the hunger to show people what I can do instead of what they saw in the World Championship, because I missed too many doubles at Ally Pally and Co punished me.

"I've got a diary at home which has my goals for the year; to hit a nine-darter, to win a ProTour event and get into the top 40 in the world, so I've ticked one of those off already.

"It's the second PDC tournament I've won and undoubtedly the most important I've ever won, and it's hard to describe how I feel - I'm over the moon.

"I came close to a nine-darter on Saturday but that's only one leg, it's winning matches that gets you championships and I've managed to do that. Justin beat me 6-3 yesterday so it's nice to get the payback against him today."

Pipe had defeated Paul Nicholson in Saturday's final, and his wins on Sunday included a second of the weekend over Mark Webster, defeats of new Tour Card holders John Bowles and Ross Smith, a 6-4 defeat of Andy Hamilton and a narrow 6-5 semi-final win over Matt Clark, where he hit a 14-dart finish to edge victory.

Clark won through to the semis only a week after having to compete in Qualifying School to retain his Tour Card, showing his quality with fine wins over Jelle Klaasen, Tony West, John Part, Mensur Suljovic and Kim Huybrechts in earning £2,000 prize money.

World number three Wade was the other semi-finalist, having come close to repeating the performance which saw him take victory in Benidorm last October.

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