Suljovic snatches victory in an epic final (credit:Lawrence Lustig/PDC)
Mensur Suljovic defied a spectacular nine-dart finish and a 107 average from Ian White to edge a thrilling last-leg final and claim the Players Championship 26 title in Barnsley on Sunday.
Suljovic, the world number nine, wrapped up his first floor title of the season in style with a 109 checkout in the deciding leg, taking his tally of PDC titles to seven.
White had produced a blistering series of displays en route to the final and maintained that standard throughout, notably landing a perfect tenth leg to level the contest.
However, he saw a 4-2 advantage slip through his fingers as the Austrian ace dug deep to deny ‘Diamond’ a third ranking title of 2019.
“This year I am World Champion,” said a buoyant Suljovic. “This was the best final for me. Ian played brilliant, he hit a nine-darter, he is a brilliant player.
“Everybody is playing brilliant at the moment; Ian, Daryl Gurney, Gerwyn Price and me are the best players at the moment.”
Suljovic kick-started his charge with a 6-4 win over Richard North in Round One before defeating Gavin Carlin 6-2 and Ryan Joyce 6-4 to reach the Last 16.
There, he powered past reigning Lakeside Champion Glen Durrant 6-2 before edging out Cristo Reyes in a deciding leg and overcoming Jonny Clayton 7-5 to seal his spot in the final.
The opening four legs of the final went with the throw before White established daylight at 4-2.
Suljovic hit back superbly with a 140 checkout in leg seven before taking out 81 and clinching leg nine to hit the front.
White, however, stopped the rot in dream fashion, landing a 177, a 180 and a 144 checkout for a perfect leg and went on to level up again at six apiece.
The Stoke ace then missed one dart at tops in leg 13, allowing Suljovic to finish 78 to move to the verge of victory at 7-6.
Suljovic then wired double 19 for a 158 match checkout in the following leg and White stepped in for tops to force a fitting decider.
It was Suljovic who held his nerve in style, cleaning up 109 to secure the £10,000 top prize at the Barnsley Metrodome.
White’s run to the final began with a 6-3 win over Jan Dekker with a 103.8 average before defeating Alan Tabern 6-2 with a 99 average.
He then ended the run of veteran Andy Jenkins with a 6-4 triumph in the Last 32 before averaging 103.7 in denying Geert Nentjes 6-3.
In the Quarter-Finals, White replicated that exact average in whitewashing fellow Stoke thrower Andy Boulton, before registering a personal best average on the ProTour (115) in a ruthless 7-2 rout of Steve West.
West had enjoyed a fine run to the Semi-Finals, defeating both Peter Wright and Gary Anderson along the way, while Jonny Clayton produced a string of ton-plus averages in also making the Last Four.
The day also saw Rob Cross register his first competitive nine-darter as a PDC Tour Card holder en route to a 6-3 victory over Spain’s Jose Justicia in Round Two.
Following Players Championship 26, the 32-man field for next month’s World Grand Prix is now confirmed, with Mervyn King and Dimitri van den Bergh securing the final two places at the expense of Gabriel Clemens and Jose De Sousa.
The draw for the World Grand Prix will take place on Friday September 27.
Players Championship 26 Results
Sunday September 22
Ian White 6-3 Jan Dekker
Alan Tabern 6-2 Zoran Lerchbacher
William O’Connor 6-3 Barrie Bates
Andy Jenkins 6-1 Michael Barnard
Jamie Lewis 6-4 Michael Smith
Gary Eastwood 6-3 Bradley Brooks
Jeffrey De Zwaan 6-1 Steve Lennon
Geert Nentjes 6-4 Eddie Dootson
Jelle Klaasen 6-4 Joe Cullen
Matthew Edgar 6-1 Yordi Meeuwisse
John Henderson 6-3 Josh Payne
Darius Labanauskas 6-2 Matt Clark
Jamie Bain 6-3 Adrian Lewis
Andy Boulton 6-1 Simon Stevenson
Mike van Duivenbode 6-5 Max Hopp
Luke Woodhouse 6-2 Mark Wilson
Steve West 6-3 Peter Wright
Kevin Burness 6-4 Ryan Searle
Mervyn King 6-3 Reece Robinson
Scott Baker 6-5 Peter Hudson
Nathan Aspinall 6-3 Nathan Derry
Ritchie Edhouse 6-1 Niels Zonneveld
Stephen Bunting 6-3 Tytus Kanik
Martin Schindler 6-4 Darren Webster
Daryl Gurney 6-2 Cameron Menzies
Terry Temple 6-4 Jonathan Worsley
Ronny Huybrechts 6-5 Simon Whitlock
Gary Anderson 6-1 Mark Dudbridge
James Richardson 6-3 Jermaine Wattimena
Mark McGeeney 6-5 Davy Van Baelen
Cody Harris 6-4 Chris Dobey
Kyle McKinstry 6-3 Vincent Kamphuis
Gerwyn Price 6-3 Mario Robbe
Ron Meulenkamp 6-3 Carl Wilkinson
Jose De Sousa 6-4 Marko Kantele
Robert Owen 6-2 Christian Kist
Jamie Hughes 6-4 Boris Koltsov
John Michael 6-2 Joe Murnan
Cristo Reyes 6-5 Ricky Evans
Devon Petersen 6-2 Brendan Dolan
Mensur Suljovic 6-4 Richard North
Gavin Carlin 6-3 Ted Evetts
Madars Razma 6-2 Vincent van der Voort
Ryan Joyce 6-5 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Glen Durrant 6-0 Mickey Mansell
Conan Whitehead 6-3 Vincent Van der Meer
Danny Noppert 6-3 Berry van Peer
James Wilson 6-5 Raymond van Barneveld
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-5 Maik Kuivenhoven
Ross Smith 6-4 Benito van de Pas
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-1 Robert Thornton
Alan Norris 6-3 Scott Taylor
Rob Cross 6-1 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Jose Justicia BYE Arron Monk
Keegan Brown 6-1 Harry Ward
Toni Alcinas 6-3 Mark Webster
Ryan Meikle 6-3 Dave Chisnall
Kim Huybrechts 6-3 Callan Rydz
Gabriel Clemens 6-1 Christian Bunse
Tony Newell 6-5 Adam Hunt
Jonny Clayton 6-2 Adrian Gray
Justin Pipe 6-3 Kirk Shepherd
Steve Beaton 6-5 Wayne Jones
Stephen Burton 6-3 Ryan Harrington
Ian White 6-2 Alan Tabern
Andy Jenkins 6-4 William O’Connor
Gary Eastwood 6-2 Jamie Lewis
Geert Nentjes 6-3 Jeffrey De Zwaan
Matthew Edgar 6-5 Jelle Klaasen
John Henderson 6-5 Darius Labanauskas
Andy Boulton 6-0 Jamie Bain
Mike van Duivenbode 6-2 Luke Woodhouse
Steve West 6-0 Kevin Burness
Mervyn King 6-4 Scott Baker
Nathan Aspinall 6-5 Ritchie Edhouse
Martin Schindler 6-4 Stephen Bunting
Daryl Gurney 6-4 Terry Temple
Gary Anderson 6-2 Ronny Huybrechts
James Richardson 6-5 Mark McGeeney
Kyle McKinstry 6-5 Cody Harris
Ron Meulenkamp 6-2 Gerwyn Price
Jose De Sousa 6-4 Robert Owen
Jamie Hughes 6-2 John Michael
Cristo Reyes 6-5 Devon Petersen
Mensur Suljovic 6-2 Gavin Carlin
Ryan Joyce 6-4 Madars Razma
Glen Durrant 6-1 Conan Whitehead
Danny Noppert 6-2 James Wilson
Ross Smith 6-5 Krzysztof Ratajski
Alan Norris 6-5 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Rob Cross 6-3 Jose Justicia – *Cross hits a nine-darter*
Keegan Brown 6-5 Toni Alcinas
Kim Huybrechts 6-2 Ryan Meikle
Gabriel Clemens 6-0 Tony Newell
Jonny Clayton 6-1 Justin Pipe
Stephen Burton 6-5 Steve Beaton
Ian White 6-4 Andy Jenkins
Geert Nentjes 6-1 Gary Eastwood
Matthew Edgar 6-5 John Henderson
Andy Boulton 6-1 Mike van Duivenbode
Steve West 6-5 Mervyn King
Martin Schindler 6-4 Nathan Aspinall
Gary Anderson 6-2 Daryl Gurney
James Richardson 6-4 Kyle McKinstry
Ron Meulenkamp 6-2 Jose De Sousa
Cristo Reyes 6-3 Jamie Hughes
Mensur Suljovic 6-4 Ryan Joyce
Glen Durrant 6-4 Danny Noppert
Ross Smith 6-1 Alan Norris
Rob Cross 6-2 Keegan Brown
Gabriel Clemens 6-5 Kim Huybrechts
Jonny Clayton 6-1 Stephen Burton
Ian White 6-3 Geert Nentjes
Andy Boulton 6-3 Matthew Edgar
Steve West 6-3 Martin Schindler
Gary Anderson 6-2 James Richardson
Cristo Reyes 6-3 Ron Meulenkamp
Mensur Suljovic 6-2 Glen Durrant
Ross Smith 6-5 Rob Cross
Jonny Clayton 6-2 Gabriel Clemens
Ian White 6-0 Andy Boulton
Steve West 6-3 Gary Anderson
Mensur Suljovic 6-5 Cristo Reyes
Jonny Clayton 6-1 Ross Smith
Ian White 7-2 Steve West
Mensur Suljovic 7-5 Jonny Clayton
Mensur Suljovic 8-7 Ian White – *White hits a nine-darter*