Jonny Clayton landed a sensational nine-darter en route to a 7-3 victory over Jose De Sousa on Night Three of the Premier League in Milton Keynes on Wednesday.
Competing in only his third match as part of the full-time Premier League line-up, Clayton produced perfection in the eighth leg of the high-quality contest between two debutants at the Marshall Arena.
Having landed the 11th nine-darter in Premier League history, Clayton went on to take the last two legs in 11 and 12 darts each to wrap up his second victory in as many nights, ending with a 105.2 average.
The reigning Masters champion has made a flying start to life in the competition and sits third behind Dimitri Van den Bergh and Michael van Gerwen in the early league table.
“I’m a happy man, it’s brilliant,” said a delighted Clayton. “I know my kids will have been bouncing around the house tonight watching that.
“It was a great game, Jose is a brilliant player. We’ve played each other a few times on tour and I knew I’d have to play my best to win and thankfully that’s what I did.
“It’s all going well for me at the moment. The darts are flowing nicely, my confidence is high and I’m enjoying it.
“I won’t get ahead of myself though, my aim is still just to make sure I’m still in the competition after Judgement Night.”
Night Three had begun with a repeat of the 2019 Premier League final as Michael van Gerwen produced a vintage display in a 7-3 rout of Rob Cross.
Van Gerwen averaged 107.5 to mark a return to the type of form which saw him lift the Premier League title on five occasions.
The opening exchanges were tight, with Van Gerwen leading 4-3 after seven legs, before the world number two reeled off a hat-trick of legs in 15, 15 and 12 darts each, wrapping up the win with a 100 checkout.
“To win a game like this against Rob is good for my confidence,” said Van Gerwen. “Things are starting to change for me in a positive way.
“Rob is a phenomenal player, you have to do the right things at the moments to beat him. I’m glad I was able to tonight.
“It’s going better than last year but I need to make sure I keep this going now and keep towards my aim of winning my title back.”
Peter Wright bounced back from a disappointing performance against Van Gerwen 24 hours earlier with a 7-4 defeat of fellow Scotsman Gary Anderson.
Despite six 180s from Anderson, Wright regained his clinical edge on the outer ring, pinning seven of his 13 double attempts to come out on top in the clash of Scotland’s 2019 World Cup of Darts winning teammates.
“I woke up today and I decided I needed to use these darts to straighten up my throw,” Wright explained, having returned to the design of dart with which he won the World Championship.
“It’s nice to get a win against Gary because he normally beats me!
“I think I’ve played the best three players first so it’s been a tough start for me and I’m happy to get my first win on the board.”
Van den Bergh sits top of the pile after his emphatic 7-0 whitewash of Glen Durrant heaped further misery on the reigning Premier League champion – who has now lost three on the spin.
Durrant’s 16 missed double attempts, including eleven in the opening leg, were duly punished by Van den Bergh – who has picked up five points from a possible six so far.
Last year’s runner-up Nathan Aspinall continued his return to form with a comfortable 7-4 victory over James Wade.
Aspinall’s doubling was once again on point as he took a 6-2 lead, and though Wade rallied, Aspinall closed out victory with a 76 checkout.
Night Three – Wednesday April 7
Rob Cross 3-7 Michael van Gerwen
Glen Durrant 0-7 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Peter Wright 7-4 Gary Anderson
Nathan Aspinall 7-4 James Wade
Jose de Sousa 3-7 Jonny Clayton – *Clayton hits a nine-darter*
Jonny Clayton secured his third title of the season at Players Championship Seven with an 8-5 victory over James Wade in the final.
Clayton, who had claimed The Masters title and a Players Championship success last month, continued his blistering spell of form to add to his tally.
The Welsh World Cup winner averaged above 98 in six of his seven wins on the day, kicking off with a 6-3 victory over Josh Payne before defeating Ted Evetts 6-2 and Jason Lowe 6-3.
He then overcame Grand Slam champion Jose de Sousa 6-4 in a high-quality Quarter-Final which saw both players average above 103.
Clayton had reeled off the final four legs without reply to defeat De Sousa, and went on to whitewash Jason Heaver 7-0 in the Semi-Finals to reach a fifth final of the year.
The final saw the two most recent winners of televised titles collide, and it was Clayton who started strongly by opening up a 2-0 lead.
Wade, though, hit back in leg three but only for Clayton to reel off three in a row – including a 116 checkout – to move 5-1 ahead.
Wade posted back-to-back 14-darters in a run of three legs as he cut the gap to 5-4, but was left waiting on 32 in a key tenth leg as Clayton held his nerve to take out 72 on tops.
Wade fired in a 180 and landed double four to pull back to 6-5, but double eight edged Clayton clear once more before he sealed victory with a 13-darter on double 12.
“It’s brilliant, I’m a happy man,” said Clayton.
“James finishes brilliantly so for him to comment about my finishing, I’m a happy man – but I had to finish my last darts because James was there waiting. He kept coming back and I was nervous.
“I’m going to keep trying to get to finals. I’ve got confidence and consistency; my averages are quite high in the 90s and maybe in the 100s, and my confidence is flying with that kind of average.
“I take everything day by day, and hopefully it keeps going.”
UK Open champion Wade followed up Wednesday’s Quarter-Final appearance in Players Championship 6 by reaching the decider 24 hours later.
He averaged over 100 in his early wins over Ciaran Teehan and Wayne Jones before overcoming Luke Humphries 6-3 in their rematch of the recent UK Open final.
Wade battled past Australia’s Gordon Mathers and Lithuania’s Darius Labanauskas to reach the Semi-Finals, where he held off a stirring fightback from Gabriel Clemens – who came from 4-0 down to level at five-all before the left-hander prevailed.
Clemens’ run saw him reach a second Semi-Final on the ProTour this year, while Heaver’s display was his best run since winning a Tour Card at Qualifying School last month.
Winchester’s Chas Barstow, who narrowly missed out on winning a Tour Card but earned a top-up place in the field as a PDPA Associate Member, knocked out World Champion Gerwyn Price during his run to a first professional Quarter-Final.
De Sousa and Labanauskas were joined in the Last Eight by Vincent van der Voort, while Mathers enjoyed his best run on the ProTour since winning his Tour Card as he reached the Last 16.
Friday sees PDC Super Series 2 conclude with Players Championship 8 in Milton Keynes, with a further £75,000 in prize money on offer as 128 players compete.
Thursday March 18
Joe Cullen 6-0 Krzysztof Kciuk
Ryan Murray 6-3 Derk Telnekes
Darius Labanauskas 6-3 Eddie Lovely
Raymond van Barneveld 6-3 Matthew Edgar
William Borland 6-3 Dave Chisnall
Luc Peters 6-4 Martin Schindler
Daryl Gurney 6-5 Darren Webster
Steve Beaton 6-2 Mike De Decker
James Wade 6-3 Ciaran Teehan
Wayne Jones 6-3 Daniel Larsson
Luke Humphries 6-5 Madars Razma
Steve West 6-1 David Evans
Gordon Mathers 6-5 Krzysztof Ratajski
Gavin Carlin 6-5 Peter Hudson
Aaron Beeney 6-5 Dirk van Duijvenbode
James Wilson 6-4 Rusty-Jake Rodriguez
Gerwyn Price 6-4 John Henderson
Chas Barstow 6-4 Kai Fan Leung
Andy Hamilton 6-4 Ross Smith
Boris Krcmar 6-4 John Brown
Danny Noppert 6- 3 Gino Vos
William O’Connor 6-3 Alan Tabern
Michael Rasztovits 6-4 Glen Durrant
Scott Mitchell 6-0 Jake Jones
Michael Smith 6-0 Justin Pipe
Ron Meulenkamp 6-2 Adrian Lewis
Gary Anderson 6-5 Stephen Bunting
Ritchie Edhouse 6-2 Max Hopp
Damon Heta 6-3 Jon Worsley
Jesus Noguera 6-3 Jack Main
Gabriel Clemens 6-5 Jeffrey De Zwaan
Kirk Shepherd 6-2 Lorenzo Pronk
José de Sousa 6-3 Andy Boulton
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-3 Karel Sedlacek
Danny Baggish 6-4 Ryan Searle
Chris Dobey 6-1 Mark McGeeney
Jeff Smith 6-3 Brendan Dolan
Mickey Mansell 6-1 Adam Hunt
Rob Cross 6-5 Peter Jacques
Kim Huybrechts 6-3 Niels Zonneveld
Jonny Clayton 6-3 Josh Payne
Ted Evetts 6-3 Martijn Kleermaker
Mervyn King 6-5 Scott Waites
Jason Lowe 6-3 Martin Atkins
Mensur Suljovic 6-2 Andrew Gilding
Steve Lennon 6-4 Lewis Williams
Jermaine Wattimena 6-3 Nick Kenny
Ryan Meikle 6-4 Martin Thomas
Rowby-John Rodriguez 6-5 Peter Wright
Jason Heaver 6-5 Bradley Brooks
Jamie Hughes 6-2 Steffen Siepmann
Zoran Lerchbacher 6-5 Keane Barry
John Michael 6-4 Ian White
Luke Woodhouse 6-1 Adam Gawlas
Brett Claydon 6-5 Callan Rydz
Joe Murnan 6-4 Martin Lukeman
Maik Kuivenhoven 6-4 Devon Petersen
Alan Soutar 6-4 Keegan Brown
Boris Koltsov 6-4 Ryan Joyce
Simon Whitlock 6-1 Berry van Peer
Nathan Aspinall 6-2 Jelle Klaasen
Geert De Vos 6-3 Gary Blades
Vincent van der Voort 6-0 Lisa Ashton
Steve Brown 6-3 Ricky Evans
Ryan Murray 6-5 Joe Cullen
Darius Labanauskas 6-1 Raymond van Barneveld
William Borland 6-4 Luc Peters
Steve Beaton 6-5 Daryl Gurney
James Wade 6-1 Wayne Jones
Luke Humphries 6-3 Steve West
Gordon Mathers 6-3 Gavin Carlin
James Wilson 6-2 Aaron Beeney
Chas Barstow 6-2 Gerwyn Price
Andy Hamilton 6-2 Boris Krcmar
Danny Noppert 6-4 William O’Connor
Scott Mitchell 6-5 Michael Rasztovits
Michael Smith 6-3 Ron Meulenkamp
Ritchie Edhouse 6-5 Gary Anderson
Damon Heta 6-4 Jesus Noguera
Gabriel Clemens 6-3 Kirk Shepherd
José de Sousa 6-4 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Danny Baggish 6-2 Chris Dobey
Jeff Smith 6-5 Mickey Mansell
Kim Huybrechts 6-5 Rob Cross
Jonny Clayton 6-2 Ted Evetts
Jason Lowe 6-2 Mervyn King
Steve Lennon 6-3 Mensur Suljovic
Jermaine Wattimena 6-4 Ryan Meikle
Jason Heaver 6-4 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Jamie Hughes 6-5 Zoran Lerchbacher
Luke Woodhouse 6-4 John Michael
Joe Murnan 6-2 Brett Claydon
Maik Kuivenhoven 6-5 Alan Soutar
Boris Koltsov 6-3 Simon Whitlock
Geert De Vos 6-4 Nathan Aspinall
Vincent van der Voort 6-2 Steve Brown
Darius Labanauskas 6-3 Ryan Murray
William Borland 6-5 Steve Beaton
James Wade 6-3 Luke Humphries
Gordon Mathers 6-3 James Wilson
Chas Barstow 6-1 Andy Hamilton
Scott Mitchell 6-5 Danny Noppert
Michael Smith 6-1 Ritchie Edhouse
Gabriel Clemens 6-4 Damon Heta
José de Sousa 6-3 Danny Baggish
Jeff Smith 6-1 Kim Huybrechts
Jonny Clayton 6-3 Jason Lowe
Steve Lennon 6-3 Jermaine Wattimena
Jason Heaver 6-5 Jamie Hughes
Luke Woodhouse 6-4 Joe Murnan
Maik Kuivenhoven 6-4 Boris Koltsov
Vincent van der Voort 6-5 Geert De Vos
Darius Labanauskas 6-3 William Borland
James Wade 6-5 Gordon Mathers
Chas Barstow 6-5 Scott Mitchell
Gabriel Clemens 6-1 Michael Smith
José de Sousa 6-3 Jeff Smith
Jonny Clayton 6-3 Steve Lennon
Jason Heaver 6-1 Luke Woodhouse
Vincent van der Voort 6-2 Maik Kuivenhoven
James Wade 6-4 Darius Labanauskas
Gabriel Clemens 6-3 Chas Barstow
Jonny Clayton 6-4 José de Sousa
Jason Heaver 6-4 Vincent van der Voort
James Wade 7-5 Gabriel Clemens
Jonny Clayton 7-0 Jason Heaver
Jonny Clayton 8-5 James Wade
Jonny Clayton secured his second title of 2021 at the PDC Super Series in Bolton with an 8-6 victory over Damon Heta in the final.
Masters Champion Clayton, who had finished runner-up in two of the opening three PDC Super Series events, went one better on the final day as he clinched the £10,000 top prize.
Clayton had been in terrific form throughout the week and averaged 98.5 across his seven wins en route to glory on Sunday.
“It’s all about confidence and I’m feeling very good,” said Clayton. “Sometimes when I feel like I’ve played badly, I’m still averaging nearly 96 so something must be going right.
“I had my chances against Joe [Cullen] and Callan [Rydz] in the other finals, but that’s how it goes. I’m very happy to have won one.”
The Welsh World Cup winner began by thrashing Wigan’s Martin Atkins 6-1 before averaging 109.6 in a 6-2 victory over Andy Boulton.
He followed that up with a 103.3 average in defeating Rowby-John Rodriguez 6-4 before replicating that scoreline against Grand Slam champion Jose De Sousa in the Last 16.
Clayton then saw off Michael Smith 6-3 before edging out German number one Gabriel Clemens 7-5 in the Semi-Finals.
The world number 18 began the final strongly by taking the first leg against the throw and doubling his lead with an 80 checkout.
Heta, however, hit back with a run of three consecutive legs to move in front, but only to miss two darts at double 14 and allow Clayton to restore parity.
Heta did regain the lead with a 68 checkout but Clayton levelled again before producing a clinical ten-darter and a 68 finish to move 6-4 ahead.
The duo then exchanged 68 finishes before Heta landed double six to stay in touch at 7-6 behind, but Clayton held firm to close out victory in leg 14.
Australia’s Heta was bidding for his second Players Championship title in the space of 12 months and enjoyed a remarkable run of results en route to the final.
The 2019 Brisbane Masters champion whitewashed David Evans before dispatching Saturday’s winner Raymond van Barneveld, Mervyn King, Peter Wright, Dirk van Duijvenbode and Michael van Gerwen.
Meanwhile, Luke Woodhouse became the fourth player in as many days to achieve a nine-dart finish, but it was not enough to avert a 6-3 defeat to Danny Noppert in Round One.
Gary Anderson suffered a shock First Round exit at the hands of World Youth Champion Bradley Brooks, while the likes of Simon Whitlock, Dimitri van den Bergh and Nathan Aspinall also crashed out at the first hurdle.
Sunday February 28
Martin Schindler 6-3 William Borland
Ricky Evans 6-2 Michael Unterbuchner
Kirk Shepherd 6-2 Karel Sedlacek
Dave Chisnall 6-5 Matthew Edgar
Scott Waites 6-2 Danny Baggish
Daryl Gurney 6-1 Eddie Lovely
Martin Lukeman 6-5 Simon Whitlock
Devon Petersen 6-4 Lisa Ashton
Rusty-Jake Rodriguez 6-0 Mark McGeeney
Gabriel Clemens 6-4 John Michael
Geert De Vos 6-1 Steve Brown
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-1 Daniel Larsson
Darius Labanauskas 6-2 Boris Krcmar
Vincent van der Voort 6-1 William O’Connor
John Brown 6-2 Jelle Klaasen
José de Sousa 6-4 Zoran Lerchbacher
Maik Kuivenhoven 6-5 Aaron Beeney
Kai Fan Leung 6-4 Ross Smith
Ryan Meikle 6-5 Chris Dobey
Jonny Clayton 6-1 Martin Atkins
Andy Boulton 6-3 Peter Hudson
Rowby-John Rodriguez 6-4 Brendan Dolan
Ron Meulenkamp 6-2 Harald Leitinger
Michael Smith 6-2 Gary Blades
Justin Pipe 6-3 Jeffrey De Zwaan
Steffen Siepmann 6-3 Martijn Kleermaker
Gordon Mathers 6-3 Mickey Mansell
Danny Noppert 6-3 Luke Woodhouse – *Woodhouse hits a nine-darter*
Krzysztof Kciuk 6-2 Mike De Decker
Callan Rydz 6-2 Lewis Williams
Andy Hamilton 6-4 Brett Claydon
Michael van Gerwen 6-2 Adam Gawlas
Bradley Brooks 6-4 Gary Anderson
Kim Huybrechts 6-2 Boris Koltsov
Luke Humphries 6-1 Steve West
Rob Cross 6-1 Berry van Peer
Michael Rasztovits 6-3 Martin Thomas
Glen Durrant 6-5 Jason Lowe
Jake Jones 6-3 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Chas Barstow 6-4 Nathan Aspinall
Alan Tabern 6-3 Keane Barry
Madars Razma 6-4 John Henderson
Luc Peters 6-5 Joe Murnan
Adrian Lewis 6-3 Ian White
Jesus Noguera 6-3 Ciaran Teehan
Jermaine Wattimena 6-2 Ryan Murray
Nick Kenny 6-3 Andrew Gilding
Peter Wright 6-2 Adam Hunt
Jack Main 6-4 Derk Telnekes
Ryan Joyce 6-2 Lorenzo Pronk
Ted Evetts 6-4 Jon Worsley
Damon Heta 6-0 David Evans
Raymond van Barneveld 6-4 Geert Nentjes
Mervyn King 6-3 Jason Heaver
Alan Soutar 6-2 Darren Webster
James Wade 6-3 Steve Lennon
Peter Jacques 6-4 Ritchie Edhouse
James Wilson 6-3 Stephen Bunting
Jeff Smith 6-4 Niels Zonneveld
Keegan Brown 6-3 Mensur Suljovic
Ryan Searle 6-4 Josh Payne
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-1 Scott Mitchell
Max Hopp 6-4 Steve Beaton
Joe Cullen 6-4 Martin Schindler
Kirk Shepherd 6-5 Ricky Evans
Dave Chisnall 6-3 Scott Waites
Daryl Gurney 6-2 Martin Lukeman
Devon Petersen 6-3 Rusty-Jake Rodriguez
Gabriel Clemens 6-5 Geert De Vos
Darius Labanauskas 6-4 Krzysztof Ratajski
John Brown 6-5 Vincent van der Voort
José de Sousa 6-0 Maik Kuivenhoven
Ryan Meikle 6-4 Kai Fan Leung
Jonny Clayton 6-2 Andy Boulton
Rowby-John Rodriguez 6-5 Ron Meulenkamp
Michael Smith 6-1 Justin Pipe
Steffen Siepmann 6-2 Gordon Mathers
Danny Noppert 6-1 Krzysztof Kciuk
Callan Rydz 6-3 Andy Hamilton
Michael van Gerwen 6-2 Bradley Brooks
Kim Huybrechts 6-3 Luke Humphries
Michael Rasztovits 6-5 Rob Cross
Jake Jones 6-3 Glen Durrant
Chas Barstow 6-5 Alan Tabern
Madars Razma 6-3 Luc Peters
Jesus Noguera 6-3 Adrian Lewis
Nick Kenny 6-3 Jermaine Wattimena
Peter Wright 6-4 Jack Main
Ted Evetts 6-2 Ryan Joyce
Damon Heta 6-4 Raymond van Barneveld
Mervyn King 6-2 Alan Soutar
James Wade 6-1 Peter Jacques
Jeff Smith 6-5 James Wilson
Ryan Searle 6-3 Keegan Brown
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-1 Max Hopp
Joe Cullen 6-4 Kirk Shepherd
Daryl Gurney 6-3 Dave Chisnall
Gabriel Clemens 6-2 Devon Petersen
Darius Labanauskas 6-1 John Brown
José de Sousa 6-3 Ryan Meikle
Jonny Clayton 6-4 Rowby-John Rodriguez
Michael Smith 6-5 Steffen Siepmann
Danny Noppert 6-5 Callan Rydz
Michael van Gerwen 6-2 Kim Huybrechts
Jake Jones 6-3 Michael Rasztovits
Chas Barstow v Madars Razma
Jesus Noguera 6-4 Nick Kenny
Peter Wright 6-3 Ted Evetts
Damon Heta 6-5 Mervyn King
James Wade 6-4 Jeff Smith
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-3 Ryan Searle
Daryl Gurney 6-4 Joe Cullen
Gabriel Clemens 6-2 Darius Labanauskas
Jonny Clayton 6-4 Jose De Sousa
Michael Smith 6-5 Danny Noppert
Michael van Gerwen 6-3 Jake Jones
Madars Razma 6-5 Jesus Noguera
Damon Heta 6-2 Peter Wright
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-2 James Wade
Gabriel Clemens 6-4 Daryl Gurney
Jonny Clayton 6-3 Michael Smith
Michael van Gerwen 6-2 Madars Razma
Damon Heta 6-3 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Jonny Clayton 7-5 Gabriel Clemens
Damon Heta 7-3 Michael van Gerwen
Jonny Clayton 8-6 Damon Heta
Jonny Clayton secured his first individual televised PDC title at the 2021 Ladbrokes Masters, defeating Mervyn King 11-8 in the final in Milton Keynes.
A World Cup winner for Wales alongside Gerwyn Price last year, Clayton’s landmark victory at the Marshall Arena also secures him a Premier League debut this season.
The world number 18 averaged 104 in the final and maintained the clinical finishing he displayed throughout the tournament to defeat King in a straight shoot-out for the final Premier League spot and first silverware of the season.
Clayton’s route to the final was a dramatic one which saw him come through last-leg deciders against Jose de Sousa, Michael van Gerwen, James Wade and Peter Wright.
The Welshman hit back from 5-3 down in the final to win eight of the next eleven legs and clinch the £60,000 first prize, denying King his first televised PDC title.
“To get over that winning line is an amazing feeling,” admitted Clayton.
“It wasn’t the best of matches, we’ve both played better in this tournament but that was to be expected given what was at stake.
“I was so glad I didn’t have to play another deciding leg. At one stage I thought Mervyn was going to take me all the way.
“He went to sleep for a couple of legs and I took advantage to go in front, from there I played pretty consistent.”
Clayton had a brief taste of the Premier League stage as a ‘Challenger’ in Cardiff in February 2020 but will now feature full-time in the star-studded line-up.
He added: “I was hoping for a place in the Premier League, but to hear it confirmed on stage after I won was amazing.
“I’m over the moon to be in it. I really am chuffed to bits.”
King began the final strongly, landing checkouts of 128 and 110 to take a 5-3 lead, but Clayton responded with a 136 finish on his way to taking the next six legs to go 9-5 ahead.
Back-to-back 80 checkouts saw King halve the deficit but it was to be Clayton’s day as the world number 18 closed out victory with a 12-dart leg.
“I can’t explain what happened because I haven’t got a clue,” admitted King, who was also the runner-up at the Players Championship Finals last November.
“One minute I felt right and the next I didn’t. It was very on and off. I started to fall asleep in the semis against Gerwyn and got away with it.
“I was just hoping hit maybe I could force a last leg but all credit to Jonny he played some cracking darts, fair play to him.
“Hopefully I’ll be back again fairly soon.”
Clayton fought back from 9-6 down to defeat James Wade 10-9 in the Quarter-Finals with a near-faultless display of finishing as he hit ten doubles from 11 attempts.
In the evening’s Semi-Finals, ‘The Ferret’ edged another last-leg shoot-out against defending Masters champion Wright with a 104 average.
King also prevailed 11-10 in the Last Four to halt the charge of world number one Price – who suffered his first defeat as World Champion.
King had seen off Nathan Aspinall in the Quarter-Finals with another strong display, which had seen him lead 9-0 before eventually closing out a 10-3 success.
Price averaged 105 as he defeated Adrian Lewis 10-6 in the Last Eight, while Wright overcame Dave Chisnall 10-5 after storming into an early 5-0 lead in their clash.
Sunday January 31
Mervyn King 10-3 Nathan Aspinall
Gerwyn Price 10-6 Adrian Lewis
Peter Wright 10-5 Dave Chisnall
Jonny Clayton 10-9 James Wade
Gerwyn Price 10-11 Mervyn King
Peter Wright 10-11 Jonny Clayton
Jonny Clayton produced a magnificent nine-darter on his way to reaching the Quarter-Finals of the 2020 UK Open in Minehead on Saturday, while Jelle Klaasen edged out Gary Anderson.
Welsh ace Clayton ended the four-year wait for a nine-darter in the UK Open as he struck perfection in a 10-8 win over Chris Dobey on Stage Two.
Clayton completed the feat in leg 12 as he followed in back-to-back 180s with a nerveless 141 checkout.
He went on to win the game – despite Dobey’s brave fightback from 5-0 down to pull back to 9-8 with finishes of 117 and 104 – to move into the Last Eight for the first time, where he now challenges for the £100,000 title in Sunday’s final stages.
“It’s a very special moment for me and I’m chuffed to bits,” said Clayton, who defeated Joe Cullen 10-4 earlier in the day. “There were loads of Welsh fans watching too, which was great.
“I’ve never hit one in a tournament before – I’ve had a few in practice but only my dog was watching, so to do it in front of a crowd has shown that I can do it.”
Clayton is now aiming to claim his maiden televised title on Sunday, and added: “I’m on the big stage tomorrow and I can’t wait. I’ve done well here before and I’d love to go all the way.”
Clayton’s nine-darter was the ninth in the history of the UK Open, and the first since Michael van Gerwen achieved the feat in 2016.
It was also the second in a televised event inside a fortnight, following Michael Smith’s nine-darter in the Premier League in Dublin, as well as being the 13th in a PDC event so far in 2020.
Clayton was joined in winning through to the Quarter-Finals by compatriot Gerwyn Price, who edged out Germany’s Gabriel Clemens 10-9 by landing an 11-darter in the deciding leg of their contest.
Price celebrated his 35th birthday with a 102.8 average having earlier thrashed Ricky Evans 10-3, and admitted: “It’s a nice birthday present for me!
“I’ve played well in all three games I’ve played so far but in the first two I took my chances. I missed some doubles early on in this game and he got in front of me.
“He was full of confidence and played well but I stuck in there and I’m thankful that I had such a good last leg. I’m through and I can look forward to Sunday now.”
Daryl Gurney punished a series of crucial missed doubles from Peter Wright to knock out the 2017 UK Open champion 10-6 with three ton-plus finishes to his name.
Gurney incredibly recovered from 7-1 down and survived three match darts to edge out William O’Connor 10-9 earlier in the day, and averaged 99.3 average send home the World Champion in the final match of the evening.
Jelle Klaasen moved through to his first televised Quarter-Final since October 2016 after a shock 10-9 win over 2018 champion Gary Anderson.
A resurgent Klaasen began the day by thrashing Steve West 10-1 on the outer boards and went on to punish 22 missed darts at doubles from The Flying Scotsman and seal the deal with a 14-darter in the decider.
Jamie Hughes booked his place in a first televised PDC Quarter-Final with a 10-5 defeat of Mensur Suljovic as he followed up a 10-7 win over Wigan’s Martin Atkins in Round Four.
Michael van Gerwen stepped up his quest for a first PDC ranking title of the season with a 10-4 rout of James Wade.
The world number one had survived a huge scare from rank outsider Jason Lowe in the afternoon session as he squeezed through a 10-9 winner after Lowe had denied himself a match dart by missing the single 18 on an 86 finish.
Van Gerwen was a contrastingly comfortable winner over Wade as he averaged 109 and landed six 180s and ten doubles from 14 attempts.
He will now meet Rob Cross in a repeat of last year’s Premier League final after ‘Voltage’ edge out Stephen Bunting 10-8 on Stage Two.
Cross had earlier denied world number five Michael Smith in a tense last-leg decider in which Smith missed the bull for a 164 checkout to win it.
Dimitri van den Bergh progressed to his first UK Open Quarter-Final courtesy of a 10-8 defeat of Northern Ireland’s Kyle McKinstry with nine 180s to his name.
Sunday afternoon session sees the Quarter-Finals take place before the Semi-Finals and final take centre stage in the evening with the £100,000 title up for grabs.
Saturday March 7
Afternoon Session (12.30pm-5pm)
Simon Whitlock 5-10 Chris Dobey
Jason Lowe 9-10 Michael van Gerwen
Peter Wright 10-6 Ian White
Rob Cross 10-9 Michael Smith
William O’Connor 9-10 Daryl Gurney
Gerwyn Price 10-3 Ricky Evans
James Wade 10-1 Kim Huybrechts
Gary Anderson 10-5 Simon Stevenson
Jonny Clayton 10-4 Joe Cullen
Dirk van Duijvenbode 7-10 Mensur Suljovic
Stephen Bunting 10-2 Alan Tabern
Matthew Edgar 4-10 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Martin Atkins 7-10 Jamie Hughes
Jelle Klaasen 10-1 Steve West
Kyle McKinstry 10-5 Martin Schindler
Andy Boulton 6-10 Gabriel Clemens
Evening Session (7pm-11pm)
Gerwyn Price 10-9 Gabriel Clemens
James Wade 4-10 Michael van Gerwen
Jelle Klaasen 10-9 Gary Anderson
Peter Wright 6-10 Daryl Gurney
Chris Dobey 8-10 Jonny Clayton – *Clayton hits a nine-darter*
Jamie Hughes 10-5 Mensur Suljovic
Dimitri Van den Bergh 10-8 Kyle McKinstry
Rob Cross 10-8 Stephen Bunting
Sunday March 8
Afternoon Session (12.45pm-4.30pm)
Dimitri van den Bergh v Gerwyn Price
Michael van Gerwen v Rob Cross
Daryl Gurney v Jelle Klaasen
Jamie Hughes v Jonny Clayton
Evening Session (7pm-11pm)
Jonny Clayton sensationally ended Michael van Gerwen’s five-year reign as Masters Champion with an opening night upset in Milton Keynes.
Van Gerwen had gone unbeaten in 20 games on the Marshall Arena stage but Welsh number two Clayton’s superior doubling ensured the world number one’s 2020 campaign got off to the worst possible start.
Clayton flew out of the blocks, landing a 116 checkout to open up a 3-0 lead, only for Van Gerwen to wrestle his way back into the match at 5-5.
Van Gerwen, using his new darts in PDC competition for the first time, was unable to take a stranglehold on the game as Clayton won the next four legs, including a stunning 92 checkout using double 16 and double top, to go one away from victory at 9-5.
After former Players Championship Finals runner-up Clayton missed a dart at bullseye for a 121 finish to win the match, Van Gerwen found the same target to save his skin with a roof-raising 164 checkout.
However, the reprieve was short-lived for the Dutchman as the following leg saw Clayton find a third-dart double ten to pile the misery on Van Gerwen, who lost his World Championship crown to Peter Wright on New Year’s Day.
“I’m one very happy Welshman! It’s a brilliant feeling I’ve got right now,” said Clayton.
“When you play Michael you know what to expect and I went into the game knowing how well I’ve played against him in the past.
“I know the game is there for me, it’s just a case of showing it more consistently and hopefully this is the start of big things to come from me this year.
“I’m going to enjoy my day off tomorrow by watching Wales in the rugby and look forward to Sunday, who knows how far I could go? To beat the best player in the world is a massive step for me.”
Clayton will now meet Nathan Aspinall in Sunday’s Quarter-Finals after the UK Open champion enjoyed a winning Masters debut by brushing aside a below-par James Wade 10-4.
A scrappy start to the game saw both players struggle to produce their best form, before world number eight Aspinall won the last six legs without reply to seal a comfortable passage through.
“I won the game but I wasn’t happy with my performance,” admitted Aspinall, the world number eight.
“It was a tough game to play and it’s the first game back after a break. I felt flat and I couldn’t get into my normal rhythm, and James didn’t get into the match.
“Two years ago I’d have lost a match like that, but I dealt with the situation and came out on top.
“I felt like I had a good few legs in the middle and my scoring was okay, but it was my debut in and I’ve got through it, so I can prepare for Sunday now.”
Number five seed Michael Smith got his year off to a high-quality start with a 101.85 average in an impressive 10-6 win over Mensur Suljovic in the opening game of the tournament.
After Suljovic took the opening two legs, Smith won the next five to take charge of the contest, only for the Austrian number one to fight back and go within two legs at 8-6.
However, Smith maintained his composure, taking out 113 to move to the brink of victory before firing in an 11-dart leg to advance to the quarter-finals for a third time.
“I’m feeling good, it’s about time I finished well!” said Smith, who landed six 180s and missed just seven double attempts.
“It’s a great way to start my year off on the back of a disappointing end to 2019.
“I feel like a little kid who’s just started playing again, I’m really looking forward to playing all the time.
“A loss there would’ve set me back so I’m glad I put in a decent average and performance to put me through to Sunday.”
Smith will meet 2013 Masters runner-up Adrian Lewis in the last eight after he defeated Rob Cross 10-5 in the battle of the former World Champions.
Both players struggled to find their range for the majority of the contest, but it was Lewis who managed to find more trebles over the course of the match to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in three years.
“We were waiting for each other to kick in I think and neither of us were happy with how we played, but I’m through,” said Lewis, who also sealed victory with an 11-darter.
“I’ve been practising hard and I will try to put things right, especially with my finishing because my doubles deserted me at times.
“Consistency has let me down in the last 18 months and tonight was a prime example, but I know that if I click on Sunday then I could win this.”
Friday January 31
Michael Smith 10-6 Mensur Suljovic
Nathan Aspinall 10-4 James Wade
Jonny Clayton 10-6 Michael van Gerwen
Adrian Lewis 10-5 Rob Cross