Danny Noppert claimed his first PDC major ranking title at the 2022 UK Open courtesy of a battling 11-10 victory…
Danny Noppert claimed his first PDC major ranking title at the 2022 UK Open courtesy of a battling 11-10 victory over Michael Smith in the final.
A tense climax to the 158-player tournament saw both players vying to claim a televised ranking title for the first time, but it was Noppert who dug deep to secure a memorable triumph.
Having earlier overcome Gerwyn Price and Keane Barry, Smith looked set to claim the biggest win of his career when he went 10-9 up in the final, only for Noppert to battle back in a captivating climax.
The penultimate leg saw Smith miss a match dart at the bullseye for a 124 checkout, before Noppert pinned a crucial double four to hold throw and then fired in a 180 on his way to a 13-dart break to claim the title.
“I am over the moon, this is a special moment for me,” said Noppert, who had previously reached the BDO World Championship final at Lakeside.
“I can’t believe it; I have said before that I want to lift a trophy but I never thought it would be at such a big tournament like the UK Open.
“It was a hard game at the end of a long day, we both wanted to lift this trophy so much and neither of us played like we can.
“I think I can take big steps forward in my career now.”
Noppert, who became a father for the first time in February, climbs to 12th on the PDC Order of Merit courtesy of the £100,000 winner’s prize.
Having thrashed Dirk van Duijvenbode 10-2 on Saturday night, the 31-year-old eased past Damon Heta 10-5 in Sunday afternoon’s Quarter-Finals before battling back to edge out William O’Connor 11-9 in a hard-fought Semi-Final.
Smith, meanwhile, was left dejected after suffering an eighth consecutive defeat in a televised final, missing 20 darts at doubles in the final, including one for the title.
“I was absolute garbage,” admitted a raw Smith, who also suffered heartbreak in January’s World Championship final. “I’m trying too hard to win a tournament.
“I could have walked away with that 11-3, my doubles were so bad and my scoring was bad but fair play to Danny.
“It’s yet another final loss, it’s very hard to take.”
Premier League star Smith came close to a perfect weekend in Minehead, having hit a nine-darter on Stage Two on Saturday.
Despite the defeat, Smith moves up to fourth on the PDC Order of Merit, leapfrogging Michael van Gerwen.
Earlier in the day, Smith ended Price’s reign as world number one with a 10-7 Quarter-Final win over the Welshman, meaning Peter Wright moves top of the Order of Merit for the first time in his career.
Polish teenage talent Sebastian Bialecki, who started out in Round One, saw his fairy-tale run come to an end in the Last Eight as he went down 10-9 to William O’Connor after missing one match dart at double 15 for a 150 checkout in the deciding leg.
Ireland’s Keane Barry, 19, ended James Wade’s title defence in the Quarter-Finals with a 10-4 rout, while his fellow countryman O’Connor also exited at the Semi-Final stage as the pair enjoyed their most successful runs in individual televised events.
UK Open 2022 – Day Three Results
Sunday March 6
Keane Barry 10-4 James Wade
Sebastian Bialecki 9-10 William O’Connor
Danny Noppert 10-5 Damon Heta
Michael Smith 10-7 Gerwyn Price
Michael Smith 11-6 Keane Barry
Danny Noppert 11-9 William O’Connor
Danny Noppert 11-10 Michael Smith