Peter Wright claimed glory on the opening night of the new-look Premier League with a 6-1 victory over Jonny Clayton…
Peter Wright claimed glory on the opening night of the new-look Premier League with a 6-1 victory over Jonny Clayton in the final in Cardiff.
The World champion hit a top checkout of 121 while averaging a hugely impressive 113.02 as he comfortably swept the home favourite aside to scoop the top prize of £10,000 at the Motorpoint Arena.
Although appearing in the event for a ninth successive year, Wright boasts a fairly modest record having only reached the play-offs twice in his previous eight appearances.
Nevertheless, the world number two made a strong start; hitting three 180s and averaging just over 100 as he defeated Michael Smith 6-3 in a repeat of the World Championship final at the Alexandra Palace 31 days ago.
Snakebite was then taken the distance in the semi-finals by compatriot Gary Anderson, who overcame Michael van Gerwen 6-4 in an entertaining quarter-final.
The Flying Scotsman recovered from 5-2 down; hitting a top checkout of 155 on the way to forcing a decider, but Wright held his nerve to eventually prevail by taking out 76.
That set up a showdown with reigning champion Clayton, who opened with a 6-2 victory over debutant and good friend Joe Cullen before hitting back from 4-2 down to see off 2009 winner James Wade 6-4.
But despite the support of the raucous home crowd, the Ferret was unable to build on his momentum and Wright capitalised; breaking twice and hitting a 13-darter to take a commanding 3-0 lead.
He then hit seven perfect darts in the next leg before missing treble 19, but a 12-darter was more than enough to stretch his advantage.
Clayton stopped the rot by getting his first leg on the board, but it proved a false dawn. Wright subsequently held, before sealing victory in style with a brilliant 121 checkout.
“With the standard of players in the Premier League this year, to be the first winner is great,” he said.
“In the old Premier League, you only played one game and couldn’t find the throw or feel the match.
“So if you manage to win a couple of games in this, you suss the throw out and enjoy the arena, which I did.
“It’s a good start; you don’t get any points for losing in the first round. To get five points in the first one is great. I put a statement out as well.
“It is [high on his priority list to win the Premier League]. I’ve had some good averages here and there, but I’ve never performed properly and it’s taken a lot of time for me to get mentally right to play Premier League darts. I’ve got it this year.”
Premier League Darts 2022 Night One Results
Thursday February 3
Jonny Clayton 6-2 Joe Cullen
Gerwyn Price 3-6 James Wade
Peter Wright 6-3 Michael Smith
Michael van Gerwen 4-6 Gary Anderson
Jonny Clayton 6-4 James Wade
Peter Wright 6-5 Gary Anderson
Jonny Clayton 1-6 Peter Wright