Gary Anderson proved too good for a strong field to win Players Championship One in Barnsley
Ashton beaten by Brendan Dolan who goes on to knock out world No 1 Michael van Gerwen
By Paul Prenderville
Last Updated: 08/02/20 8:15pm
Gary Anderson claimed the title in the first ranking event of 2020, beating Jeff Smith to win Players Championship One where Lisa Ashton suffered a first-round defeat.
The Flying Scotsman, fully fit after a 2019 blighted by a back injury, had put down an early marker for the season with a win over Daryl Gurney in the Premier League on Thursday, and all eyes were on the Metrodome for the start of the Pro Tour.
Anderson, a World Cup winner with Peter Wright last year, excelled, storming through a high-class list of opponents to claim his first individual title since the 2018 Champions League and his first ranking tournament since the 2018 World Matchplay.
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"It's been a while since I won something, but I've got the hunger back," said Anderson who faces Peter Wright on Thursday as Night Two of the Premier League heads to Nottingham.
"I want to get back to how I was throwing before [injury], I don't mind if I win or lose, but as long as I throw them how I used to then I'll be alright.
"I still have work to do, but it's not a bad start."
Anderson fell just short of the three figures in the final, but he was too good for a rejuvenated Smith, the 2016 BDO World Championship runner-up who was playing his first event since regaining his Tour card in January.
The final saw Anderson race into a 6-2 lead before Smith, who was competing in his first Players Championship event since 2013, fought back to trail 6-4. But Anderson won the next two to get his 2020 campaign off to a perfect start winning the first of 30 Players Championship events.
Night Two Fixtures, Nottingham
|Rob Cross vs Nathan Aspinall|
|Gerwyn Price vs Michael Smith|
|Gary Anderson vs Peter Wright|
|Glen Durrant vs Fallon Sherrock|
|Daryl Gurney vs Michael van Gerwen|
Anderson started the day in style, a superb 107 average accounted for Christian Bunse, and Premier League rivals Gerwyn Price and Rob Cross were among those who were beaten by the resurgent 49-year-old.
Major winners Simon Whitlock and Adrian Lewis were also beaten by Anderson on the first day of the ranking year, but there was also plenty of attention on four-time women's world champion Ashton.
The Lancashire Rose had won her two-year Tour card with a fine performance at Q-School last month, but a tough draw against Brendan Dolan saw her beaten 6-2 by the History Maker in her first outing as a professional.
As well as Ashton's debut, there were plenty of eyes on Michael van Gerwen, who was impressive in beating Snakebite in Aberdeen, and he served a couple of three-figure averages to beat BDO World Championship runner-up Scott Mitchell 6-2 and Brisbane Masters winner Damon Heta before coming up short against an inspired Dolan.
World champion Wright had been impressive in reaching the last eight before losing to Smith, while the Pro Tour wasted no time in dishing out a couple of early nine-dart finishes
Northern Ireland's Mickey Mansell and Holland's Mike van Duivenbode achieved the feat in the first round before and both will be back among the field on Sunday where Anderson will be looking to double-up and Ashton will be seeking a first win on the circuit.
Players Championship One
Brendan Dolan 6-3 Maik Kuivenhoven
Jeff Smith 6-5 Peter Wright
Adrian Lewis 6-3 Steve Beaton
Gary Anderson 6-2 Joe Cullen
Jeff Smith 7-2 Brendan Dolan
Gary Anderson 7-3 Adrian Lewis
Gary Anderson 8-4 Jeff Smith
Coverage of the Premier League continues on Thursday, February 13 in Nottingham at 7pm on Sky Sports Action. Check out daily Darts news on skysports.com/darts, our app for mobile devices and our Twitter account @skysportsdarts.