Michael Smith claimed his first major title after a commanding 16-5 rout of Nathan Aspinall sealed the Grand Slam of…
Michael Smith claimed his first major title after a commanding 16-5 rout of Nathan Aspinall sealed the Grand Slam of Darts crown on Sunday.
A beaten finalist on eight occasions, Bully Boy finally ended his long wait for silverware at Aldersley Leisure Village as he lifted the Eric Bristow trophy while pocketing the top prize of £150,000.
Smith hit nine 180s and 12 140s on the way to becoming the seventh different winner of this event after Phil Taylor, Michael van Gerwen, Gerwyn Price, Raymond van Barneveld, Scott Waites and Jose de Sousa.
Meanwhile, an out-of-sorts Aspinall missed 10 darts at doubles as he suffered his third defeat in four major final appearances.
“I’m used to giving the runners-up speech. I don’t know what to do, I’m not used to this,” he told Sky Sports.
“I’m just over the moon. Everyone can’t say I’m a bottle job, they can’t take this away from me now. It’s a big weight off my shoulders.
“I didn’t play well, Nathan let me off in the final. My doubles just went in. Every time I got a shot, I checked it. When I started to find my scoring, my doubles stayed.
“I was nervous playing [Nathan]. In the first few legs, I was shaking like mad. He started to miss doubles and let me in, he just didn’t get going. If he’d have got going tonight, it would’ve been a completely different game. Nathan’s a quality player.”
A closely fought final was expected with both players having registered 40 per cent doubles success, as well as a top checkout of 142.
But Smith, fresh from ending Van Barneveld’s fairy-tale run earlier in the day with a 16-12 triumph, lay down an early marker by breaking in the opening leg, before a pair of 14-darters put him 5-2 to the good.
Former UK Open champion Aspinall, who overcame Luke Humphries 16-12 in the semi-finals, broke back with a 15-darter on 80, but Bully Boy responded in the following leg before pinning tops for a 13-darter and 7-3 lead.
The Asp hit back with a 13-dart leg of his own before both players shared 15-darters for 8-5, but it was one-way traffic thereon.
Indeed, Smith capitalised with his opponent not firing, producing three 14-dart legs and a 12-darter and as reeled off the next seven, before clinically checking out 56 to finally break into the winners’ enclosure.
“[It’s] two major finals in three tournaments, but it’s my third defeat [in major finals],” Aspinall said.
“I love Michael to bits. I’m so proud of him. It’s hard to get over the line and he’s finally done it.
“I’m really sorry to the rest of the tour card holders, but we’re all in trouble now because he’s won his first major.
“I just think two games was too much for me today. I could not find that treble 20; the harder I tried to hit the treble 20, the worse it was getting. If I was going to lose to anyone, I’m glad it’s Michael.”