ROB CROSS claimed his fourth PDC ProTour title of 2017 with a 6-3 defeat of Adrian Lewis in the final of Tuesday's Players Championship 21 in Barnsley.
The former electrician has made an amazing introduction to life on the professional circuit this year, and he now tops the Players Championship Order of Merit going into November's Finals in Minehead.
Cross picked up the £10,000 top prize in Tuesday's ProTour event with another fine display as he battled through the field before overcoming two-time World Champion Lewis in the final.
Cross began his challenge with a whitewash of Ron Meulenkamp before fending off stiff tests from Craig Gilchrist, Steve West and John Henderson.
He then whitewashed former World Youth Champion Keegan Brown in the quarter-finals, overcame Irish ace William O'Connor for the loss of only two legs in the semi-finals as he set up the tie with Lewis.
Having shared the opening two legs of the final, Cross landed six perfect darts as he won leg three, broke on double ten in the fourth and finished 51 to open up a 4-1 cushion.
Lewis hit back in the sixth before Cross finished 90 on the bull to move 5-2 up, and thought Lewis replied with a maximum and a 76 checkout to claim his third leg, two missed darts to continue his challenge allowed the Sussex ace to finish 64 for victory.
"It's nice to come out and play the best in the world and compete, and Adrian is fantastic," said Cross.
"Over the last eight months I've learned to pull through the 6-5 games that I might have lost, and that's how this is possible.
"Winning is a good habit to get into, and the first event I won was majorly important. Instead of coming into the room and saying that I believed I could do it, I knew I could do it, and that's the difference.
"I've got the hunger to win and I want everything. I don't want to lose a leg, let alone a game, and this is a massive confidence boost for going forward.
"To do what I've done this year is fantastic and I've over-achieved from my expectations. To go to Minehead as the number one seed, if that was to happen, is an achievement and something to be proud of.
"I've only had three or four goes on the TV but I'm starting to feel more comfortable and fingers crossed I can get my best game out up there soon."
World number four Lewis had been bidding to win his second Players Championship title of the year as he won through to the final with defeats of Brendan Dolan, Joe Murnan, Mike De Decker, Jeffrey de Zwaan, Gerwyn Price and Jermaine Wattimena.
Ireland's O'Connor followed up his success in Saturday's Tom Kirby Memorial Irish Matchplay final against Jason Cullen by reaching his first-ever PDC ranking semi-final.
He overcame Jan Dekker, Vincent van der Voort, Jamie Caven, Joe Cullen and top seed Peter Wright as he progressed to the last four on a memorable day in Barnsley.
Dutchman Wattimena also reached the last four, seeing off Ross Twell, Ian White, Kevin Painter, Peter Jacques and Michael Smith along the way.
Last week's Unibet World Grand Prix champion Daryl Gurney won through to the last 16 before losing out to Price, who missed match darts in his quarter-final against Lewis before the Stoke ace prevailed with an 11-darter in the deciding leg.
The day also saw Dave Chisnall land a nine-dart finish - his second of the year on the PDC ProTour - during a first round win over Ryan Searle.
Wednesday sees the PDC ProTour double-header at the Barnsley Metrodome conclude with Players Championship 22 - the year's final £75,000 tournament.
Coverage will be streamed live on PDCTV-HD at www.pdc.tv and through a series of bookmakers' websites worldwide from 12pm.
Following Players Championship 22, the top 64 from the Players Championship Order of Merit progress to compete in the Players Championship Finals at the Butlins Minehead Resort from November 24-26.
Watch Dave Chisnall's Nine-Dart Finish
NINE-DARTER! Watch Dave Chisnall's superb nine-dart leg from yesterday's Players Championship 21. pic.twitter.com/4UqXyqZtsD— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) October 11, 2017
Players Championship 21
Tuesday October 10, Barnsley Metrodome
Peter Wright 6-1 Martin Schindler
William O'Connor 6-4 Joe Cullen
Keegan Brown 6-5 James Wade
Rob Cross 6-5 John Henderson
Michael Smith 6-4 Jonathan Worsley
Jermaine Wattimena 6-4 Peter Jacques
Adrian Lewis 6-2 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Gerwyn Price 6-4 Daryl Gurney
William O'Connor 6-2 Peter Wright
Rob Cross 6-0 Keegan Brown
Jermaine Wattimena 6-2 Michael Smith
Adrian Lewis 6-5 Gerwyn Price
Rob Cross 6-2 William O'Connor
Adrian Lewis 6-2 Jermaine Wattimena
Rob Cross 6-3 Adrian Lewis
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