Surprise package Simon Whitlock insists proving the doubters wrong is his driving force in this season’s Unibet Premier League.
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In his first Premier League campaign since 2014, the Australian ace has taken the tournament by storm, winning his opening three matches to climb to the top of the table.
Whitlock was installed as the odds-on favourite with the bookmakers to finish bottom of the table after nine weeks of competition but has all but secured his safety with six games to spare.
The 2012 Premier League finalist began the season with a 106.5 average in a 7-5 win over debutant Mensur Suljovic, before thrashing World Champion Rob Cross 7-1 and seeing off Raymond van Barneveld 7-4.
Whitlock was arguably the most controversial wildcard pick in this season’s Premier League, but 48-year-old says he is keen to silence the critics by leeting his results do the talking.
“A lot of people doubted me about being back in the Premier League but I believe I deserve to be there,” said Whitlock, who has already eclipsed his points tally for the entire 2014 season.
“I think experience is counting for a lot this year because there’s a lot of newbies in there and I feel really comfortable.
“I was probably the outsider of the whole tournament but I know how to play Premier League Darts and I’ll just take one week at a time.
“I just want to prove everyone wrong, same as Michael Smith. We got a chance to get back in the Premier League and we want to prove everyone wrong.
“I’m really confident, the darts are going great and there’s no pressure on me now.”
The former European Champion has climbed to eighth in the PDC Order of Merit, largely thanks to his run to the final of last October’s World Grand Prix.
The resurgent Aussie has revealed that going back to basics has proved integral to recapturing his most prolific form and has urged other players who have fallen down the rankings to follow his lead.
“I went back to my local tournaments and started winning those,” he added. “There’s a lot of other players who have gone down the rankings and are doing the same thing as I am.
“This is my dream to be back in the Premier League, I’ve worked really hard, done a lot of practice and played local comps just to get winning again.
“That’s the way you have to do it, you can’t just go straight back to winning tournaments, you have to go back to your roots and start winning the little ones before you can start winning the big ones.
“It builds the mind and the confidence so I’d recommend it to everyone.
“I’ve said it to all the old boys like Andy Hamilton and Wes Newton – get back to winning the little ones then you can win the big ones.”
Whitlock is locked level on six points with Michael Smith at the top of the table, but for one, their 100 per cent record will come to an end following Thursday’s clash in Berlin.
Whitlock has traditionally enjoyed vociferous support in the darting hotbed of Germany and is gearing up for a special night in front of a 12,000-capacity crowd at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.
“It’s going to be great,” he added. “The German fans have been really good to me so far and hopefully they get behind me and I’ll have another win!
“I’m still wondering how I’m top of the table at the moment because normally it’s Gary [Anderson] and Michael [Van Gerwen] but now it’s myself and Michael Smith – which is amazing.
“We were talking 12 months ago and we both said we should be in the Premier League, they didn’t select us but they’ve put us back in for a reason and now we’re proving ourselves.”