MICHAEL VAN GERWEN staged an incredible comeback from 4-1 down to win the PartyPoker.com World Grand Prix title with a 6-4 defeat of Mervyn King at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin on Sunday night.
The 23-year-old Dutchman looked set to suffer defeat in his quest the £100,000 first prize when King took the first three sets of the game.
Van Gerwen won the fourth but missed six darts for the fifth set as King moved 4-1 up and just two sets away from the £100,000 title.
The Dutch ace, though, won six straight legs to kick-start his challenge in pulling back to 4-3 before winning the eighth set 3-1 to square the game.
He then came from 2-0 down in set nine to lead the game for the first time, before sealing victory in style by taking the next set 3-0, completing the win with a superb 145 checkout.
“It’s the best day of my life,” said van Gerwen, who moves up to eighth in the PDC Order of Merit. “Mervyn was fantastic at the beginning of the game and I couldn’t concentrate but he gave me some chances and I started finishing better.
“I’m not a person who gives up so this feels very good for me – I’m so happy to have won.”
Van Gerwen started brightly by winning the game’s opening leg, but a miss at double 14 for a 148 finish in the second allowed King to level before the Norfolk thrower hit double eight and double ten to win the set.
The pair traded the first two legs of the second set, but King edged the third before landing tops to win the set 3-1.
King took out fine finishes of 102 and 93 to lead in the third set, and though van Gerwen replied with a 13-darter he was unable to save the set as King powered in a 152 checkout to lead 3-0 in the game.
Van Gerwen took out tops and double eight to win the first to legs of the fourth set, with King repying with a 120 checkout – as his opponent waited on tops – before missing double 18 to level as the 23-year-old stepped up to hit double eight for the set.
A brace of double top finishes put van Gerwen 2-0 up in the fifth set, and he hit a 177 in the third leg only to miss two darts at double 14 and one at double seven for the set.
King hit double top to save the set and double four to level, before three more misses from van Gerwen, this time at double eight, let him in to hit the same bed to snatch the set and lead 4-1.
The Dutchman, though, found another gear to race through the sixth set and begin his fightback, finishing 75 and 87 before taking out double top to win the set without reply.
He repeated the feat in the next, landing tops and a 92 finish before firing in a 131 finish to take a sixth straight leg and pull back to 4-3.
The pair shared the eighth set’s first two legs, but van Gerwen then landed a brace of double 12 checkouts to take the set 3-1 and amazingly level the game.
King hit back to lead in the ninth set, posting double four before landing a brilliant 12-darter, with the pair trading 180s before the Englishman tok out 117.
Van Gerwen, though, landed double 16 to save the set and punished a miss at tops from his opponent to level on double 12.
Van Gerwen was then immediately away with a 152 score in the deciding leg – having switched his opening double from tops to double 16 – and although King replied with a 180, the Dutchman hit tops with his third dart to lead the contest.
He then hit double 16 to win the tenth set’s opener, and after King missed three darts to hit back he finished 79 on double 11 to move a leg away from the title.
Van Gerwen, though, saved the best for last as he completed a remarkable comeback with a superb 145 checkout as he followed up his 2006 World Masters victory with the PartyPoker.com World Grand Prix triumph.
“This feels amazing and it’s a dream come true for me,” added van Gerwen, who knocked out Colin Lloyd, Adrian Lewis, Andy Hamilton and Wes Newton to reach the final.
“When I was 4-1 down it should have been 3-2, but after that I threw two very good sets to put him under pressure.
“The game’s only over when the last dart is in the double and although Mervyn is a brilliant player I didn’t think he would play so well all through the game. I was starting better on double 16 and double 18 and my scoring and finishing got better.
“When I got back to four-all I thought ‘I’m going to win this’ and it happened.”
Van Gerwen moves up to a career-high eighth in the PDC Order of Merit following the triumph, and overtakes five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld to be the leading Dutchman in the world rankings.
“It’s a dream for me,” said van Gerwen. “Raymond is a brilliant player and to go above him is amazing.
“I started the year as the number 38 in the world and now I’m number eight, so it’s unbelievable for me.
“I need to work on this and get more consistency. I’ve got a lot of work to do in the next couple of months but now I know what I feels like to win a major tournament like this – it’s the best thing in the world.”
King’s run to the final netted him £40,000 in prize money and sees him move back to 13th in the PDC Order of Merit, but as in the 2009 Premier League and 2010 Players Championship Finals he was edged out in the decider.
PartyPoker.com World Grand Prix Final
Mervyn King v Michael van Gerwen
0-0 – Michael van Gerwen wins the bull and throws first.
0-1 – van Gerwen scores a 170 as he sets up double eight to win the first leg.
1-1 – King misses two darts at double top and ten, but is allowed to return and win the leg when van Gerwen misses double 14 for a 148 checkout.
2-1 – King posts double eight to lead.
3-1 – van Gerwen is slow to start the leg, and although he lands a 180 he can only watch as King finishes double ten for the first set.
1-0 – van Gerwen misses double nine to take out 138, and King lands double four to win his fourth successive leg.
1-1 – van Gerwen lands a 180 and double 16 to level the set.
2-1 – King edges ahead by winning leg three.
3-1 – Tops gives King a two-set lead.
1-0 – King takes out 102 to break throw in the third set’s opener.
2-0 – van Gerwen posts a 180, but King finishes 93 on double 16.
2-1 – van Gerwen hits double 16 for a 13-darter to hit back.
3-1 – King finishes 152 to win a third successive set..
0-1 – van Gerwen posts tops to break throw for the first time in the match in the fourth set’s opener.
0-2 – King hits a 180, but misses five darts to win the leg and van Gerwen steps in on double eight.
1-2 – van Gerwen scores 180 and 140 to leave tops after 12 darts, but can only watch on as King finishes 120 to hit back.
1-3 – King lands a 180 to leave 110 but misses double 18 to finish the combination, and van Gerwen posts double eight for the set.
0-1 – Double top for van Gerwen wins him the fifth set’s opener.
0-2 – van Gerwen repeats the finish on tops to move two legs up with a break of throw.
1-2 – van Gerwen scores a 177 and a 140 but misses double 14 for a 148 finish and two further darts at double 14 and seven to allow King in on tops.
2-2 – King lands double four to level the set.
3-2 – van Gerwen misses three darts at double eight and King completes the comeback by hitting the same bed.
0-1 – van Gerwen bounces back from missing six darts to win the fifth set by posting double six.
0-2 – van Gerwen wins the second leg by finishing 87 on double top.
0-3 – The Dutch ace opens with a 160 and also hits two more treble 20s in his second visit, before landing tops to win the set without reply.
0-1 – van Gerwen is first to a finish, with King landing a 180 to leave 28 but only able to watch as van Gerwen hits double top.
0-2 – King misses the single 14 to leave tops when on a 114 finish, and van Gerwen nails a 92 finish to break and move two legs up.
0-3 – The Dutchman finishes a brilliant 131 checkout to win a sixth straight leg.
0-1 – Double eight sees van Gerwen break throw to win his seventh successive leg.
1-1 – van Gerwen misses eight darts to extend his lead, and King capitalises on double 16.
1-2 – Double 12 puts van Gerwen a leg away from levelling the game.
1-3 – The Dutchman squares the contest by landing double 12.
1-0 – van Gerwen misses two darts at tops, and King lands double four with his third dart to edge ahead.
2-0 – The pair trade 180s, and King finishes 117 on tops to move two legs up.
2-1 – van Gerwen lands double 16 to pull back as King requires three visits to hit his opening double.
2-2 – van Gerwen misses double 12 to finish 97, but King fails to finish tops and the Dutchman returns to hit the double at the second time of asking.
2-3 – van Gerwen opens with a 152 and adds a 139 before King posts a 180 – but the Dutch ace hits tops with his third dart to lead for the first time in the game.
0-1 – van Gerwen posts double 16 to lead in set ten and move just two legs away from the £100,000 first prize and his maiden PDC major.
0-2 – King misses two darts at tops and one at double ten, and van Gerwen finishes 79 on double 11 to move to the brink of victory.
IRISH MATCHPLAY JOY FOR GURNEY
DARYL GURNEY won the Tom Kirby Memorial Irish Matchplay championship final with a 6-3 defeat of Campbell Jackson at the Citywest Hotel on Sunday.
The 26-year-old edged out his Londonderry rival to win a place in the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship, impressing by hitting four 180s in the contest.
The pair had won through the early stages of the annual tournament at the Red Cow Moran Hotel in Dublin in August before taking to the stage at the Citywest Hotel ahead of the PartyPoker.com World Grand Prix final.
Gurney made a superb start with a maximum to open the match, but missed three darts to win the opening leg as Jackson took out 62 in two darts to lead.
Gurney levelled with a 102 finish but was again punished for missed doubles in leg three after adding a second 180, with six darts for the leg going begging.
Double 12 for Gurney saw him level, with Jackson taking out 61 to lead 3-2 before the youngster hit top form to level on double eight and then hit double nine to move ahead for the first time at 4-3.
He added a 180 and finished 68 to win the eighth leg, and posted his fourth maximum and an 86 checkout to seal the victory.
“I’m delighted,” said Gurney. “I’ve been playing really well recently, and since I qualified for the final in August I’ve probably played Campbell five times and won them all so I was confident.
“Today I gave him a couple of chances that I shouldn’t have and it could have gone the other way, but I came out on the right side of the result.
“I always score pretty well but the old saying ‘scores for show, doubles for dough’ is right. If I’d hit my doubles then I would have made it a little bit easier, but I don’t seem to make things easy for myself.
“I’ve got a couple of months now until the World Championship and I’ll work on my game and practice a lot more. I’ll be putting the hours in on the board and I can’t wait for it!”