When the going gets tough – the tough getting going!
A few weeks ago, I said that 2023 had been an unforgettable year, but they were still time to turn it around – thankfully that has proved to be the case! I put pressure on myself by knowing that only the final of the European Championship was enough to make the Grand Slam of Darts, but that pressure obviously paid off.
The Grand Slam of Darts is a great event and one where the permutations drive you mad, but I had always liked it because I find that, where it is possible for someone have a massive average on one night, by a large the people that go through are the ones that have been most consistent.
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Once the group is out of the way then the real business beginnings, and knowing that it is best of first to 19 legs means that there is no reason to panic. In our round of 16 game I played Chris Dobey, and in was all going swimmingly until I reached the finishing line! A good friend of mine had been taken ill at the weekend, and despite telling him to rest he still insisted on coming to see me! It took by surprise at the walk-on, and I was desperate to win for him – hence a bit of finishing line fever but we got there in the end!
One of the things has made me so confident about returning to the winner’s circle in the quality of my doubles and boy did I need them against Josh Rock. In the early exchanges I fared well, but after the interval at 10-10 he made a burst for the line and average 110 in the process. It took him 12-15 – but from there it was down to experience.
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I held my throw with a 126 out, and broke him to set up a grandstand finish which probably will not be beaten this year. Having faced a match dart at 14-15, we went into the 15-15 and deciding leg, and I must go to say that my double three in my final match darts might have been the best double three ever!
It was a shame last I was not at the races in the semi-final and Luke quite rightly won, but I do take a lot of confidence with me from these last events – particularly that when my ranking was on the line and there were questions to answer then I answered them.
The final word on the matter goes to Luke Humphries because he has been quite sensational. He is a likeable lad, and if he played like that then the world is his oyster.
No rest for the wicked, and I am back at Minehead this weekend for the Players Championship. It is another chance to see whether my game has kicked on a level, and as well as (hopefully) lifting the Players Championship I will have one eye on the Worlds which are just around the corner.
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