Joe Cullen marked his return to PDC action with a second title of 2021, defeating Gerwyn Price in the final of Players Championship 13 in Milton Keynes on Monday.
The final of the first Players Championship event since April was contested by two players who both ended an 86-day wait to return to ProTour action, with Cullen running out an 8-6 winner.
Both Cullen and Price impressed in the semi-finals with convincing victories over Michael van Gerwen and Jonny Clayton respectively, but Price was unable to get close to the 104.4 average he produced against Clayton in the final.
Cullen, who doubled his title tally for 2021 to cement his place at the top of the PDC ProTour Order of Merit, led 7-4 but had to survive a fightback from world champion Price.
At 7-6, Price missed two darts at doubles 12 and six, allowing Cullen to find the winning double at the sixth attempt and avenge his defeat to Price at The Masters in January.
Price: I’ve missed darts immensely
The Yorkshireman now has seven PDC ranking titles to his name but admits he was slightly surprised to return to the winners’ circle so soon after his break from action.
“I was hoping to win one of the titles this week but I wasn’t expecting it on the first day after such a long lay-off,” Cullen admitted.
“It felt like a first day back at school, I was very unsure of myself at the start of the day but it’s funny how things work out sometimes.
“I’ve missed the kind of pressure I felt at the end of the final. I fell over the line at the end but the important thing is I found a way to win.”
Elsewhere on day one of a four-day burst of ProTour events, Premier League runner-up Jose de Sousa produced a 127.0 average, one of the highest ever recorded in PDC competition, in his 6-0 first-round defeat of William Borland.
Round one also saw Ron Meulenkamp produce the first nine-dart leg of Super Series 4 in the Dutchman’s 6-3 loss to Justin Pipe.
Super Series 4 continues on Tuesday with Players Championship 14 as players return to compete for a further £75,000 in prize money.
2021 Players Championship 13 results
Joe Cullen 6-5 Ian White
James Wade 6-5 John Henderson
Martijn Kleermaker 6-4 Adrian Lewis
Michael van Gerwen 6-5 Mickey Mansell
Dirk van Duijvenbode 6-1 Bradley Brooks
Jonny Clayton 6-2 Steve Brown
Gary Anderson 6-4 Michael Smith
Gerwyn Price 6-3 Steve Beaton
Joe Cullen 6-4 James Wade
Michael van Gerwen 6-1 Martijn Kleermaker
Jonny Clayton 6-4 Dirk van Duijvenbode
Gerwyn Price 6-5 Gary Anderson
Joe Cullen 7-2 Michael van Gerwen
Gerwyn Price 7-1 Jonny Clayton
Joe Cullen 8-6 Gerwyn Price
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