Daryl Gurney beats Simon Whitlock to win World Grand Prix
Emotional Irishman wins 5-4 amid a barrage of three-figure finishes and will rise to No 6 in the world rankings
By Paul Prenderville at the Citywest Hotel
Last Updated: 08/10/17 7:38am
Daryl Gurney claimed the first major televised title of his career, edging out Simon Whitlock in a ninth set decider to win the World Grand Prix in Dublin.
The 31-year-old from Derry came back from 2-0 down early in the contest to win a pulsating affair that featured eight three-figure finishes and more than 20 180s and thrilled a packed house at the Citywest Hotel.
Gurney claimed his first PDC title earlier this year with a Players Championships success, but having lost in the World Championship quarter-final and both the UK Open and World Matchplay semi-final he had been knocking on the door all season.
But he was forced to work hard throughout with five of the nine sets going the distance before he eventually closed out the victory, winning six of the last eight legs and claiming the title when he pinned double 10 having already missed three darts for the trophy.
Both of the opening sets went the distance, with Whitlock edging them both although with the title on the line, Gurney's greater double-in percentage and fearsome finishing saw him home - he took out seven of the eight three-figure finishes including a brilliant 156
With little between the pair it was Gurney's performance under pressure that saw him over the finishing line, regularly taking the time to composing himself before returning to pin the double he needed whether to stay in a set or clinch it.
And in the final reckoning, after the pair had traded 112 check-outs, Gurney claimed the title with double 10 to seal his place as the first Irishman win to win a major PDC televised title.
Roared on by a fervent Citywest crowd who serenaded him to the ring to the strains of 'Sweet Caroline' an inspired Gurney raced into a 2-0 lead in the opening set with an average pushing 100.
However, Whitlock has produced tenacious tungsten this week and battled back into contention after Gurney wasted four darts for the set.
With Whitlock battling back to level the set, the Wizard then missed three darts of his own to take a nervy opener but was handed another chance when Gurney missed another five darts for the lead and Whitlock pounced with double one pinching the set.
However the Derry man was undaunted, a brilliant 156 check-out gave him the first leg. Again there was little to separate the pair in the set and this time it was Whitlock who missed the chances.
Three set darts went begging for the Aussie but when Gurney failed to land 170, it fell to Whitlock to throw double nine and go 2-0 in front.
Gurney hit back to claim the third set, starting again with a three-figure check-out as a 110 gave him the opening leg for the third time in the match and this time he wrapped it up with a 126 finish courtesy of the bull.
And his tidy finishing continued in the fourth as he levelled the match, taking the set 3-1 - a clinical 95 finish prompting a feisty exchange between the pair.
With the heat rising so did the tension and for the third set in the match it went the distance, although unlike the opening two this time it was Gurney who emerged victorious.
Having seen Whitlock win the first leg of a set for the first time in the match, the Northern Irishman returned to pin two more three-figure finishes. Whitlock levelled the set and with the Aussie sitting on double top, Gurney missed dart at double 16 looked costly.
But three of his own from Whitlock allowed Gurney to return and clean up at the first time of asking to take the lead and a third set on the bounce.
Next it was Whitlock's turn to roar out of the gates, although leading 2-0 he saw Gurney take out a sixth three-figure finish and then level at two apiece only to miss a dart for the set and a 4-2 lead.
Whitlock returned to punish his opponent, another clinical clean-up, this time a 98 checkout gave him the lead which he consolidated by pinching another that went the distance.
Whitlock's brilliant double eight with virtually the whole bed blocked clinched the set to take him one set, or three legs away from the title.
Three consecutive breaks opened up the eighth set, getting progressively more dramatic as Gurney took the opener, only to see Whitlock take the second after the man from Northern Ireland missed a dart at bullseye for a 2-0 lead.
Gurney broke again with a double 16 following Whitlock's 12th 180 of the match and he levelled the contest with a brilliant 96 to force the game into a final set shoot-out where it was the home favourite who prevailed.
Just over a month to go under the Grand Slam of Darts where the best of the PDC compete against the best of the BDO - the action from the Wolverhampton Civic Hall gets underway at on Sky Sports Arena on Saturday November 11 with a double session.
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