FORMER champions Michael van Gerwen, Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld opened the 2017 bwin Grand Slam of Darts with big victories on Saturday as Glen Durrant produced an outstanding win over Peter Wright in Wolverhampton.

Dutch star Van Gerwen, the winner in 2015 and 2016 at the Wolves Civic, dropped just one leg as he powered past Scottish debutant Ross Montgomery to begin his bid for a third straight title.

The number one seed now plays Rob Cross on Sunday in a repeat of the recent European Championship final, after the emerging star from Sussex averaged an impressive 104 in his own 5-1 win, against Joe Murnan.

"It's a good start," said Van Gerwen. "I was never troubled and it was a solid win.

"I hit the right shots and the right moments and I want to keep that going. Of course I want to add another title this week and I know I've got more in the tank."

Six-time champion Phil Taylor also dropped only one leg as he saw off Australian Peter Machin, the BDO World Trophy winner, to begin his final Wolverhampton challenge before retirement in strong style.

"It's nice to win but I was a bit nervous, especially when I gave him the second leg," said Taylor, who now faces Robbie Green. "Winning today isn't as important, you have to win tomorrow."

Green also claimed an opening 5-1 victory in Group C as he overcame a below-par James Wade, with the two-time Grand Slam of Darts finalist now facing a must-win tie with Machin on Sunday.

The 43-year-old from Wallasey had also found himself in hospital during the night ahead of his Grand Slam opener following an insect bite to his head, but showed no ill-effects on the oche.

"It's been a crazy day but life throws challenges at you and you've got to overcome them," said Green.

"I woke up at 4am and my face was swollen, I had to go to A&E and they put me on antibiotics. It's feeling better and hopefully it will keep improving."

Van Barneveld, meanwhile, swept aside local hero Jamie Hughes 5-1 as the 2012 champion came from a leg down to average almost 99 in opening Group B with a win.

He now plays Welshman Gerwen Price, who held off a fightback from young Irish qualifier Steve Lennon to claim a 5-3 victory in their opening fixture.

Reigning Lakeside Champion Glen Durrant was the opening day's most impressive winner as he stormed to a 5-2 win over number two seed Peter Wright, averaging 106.05

"That's a perfect start for me and I'm delighted with that," said Durrant. "I wasn't sure exactly where my game was at and this is a real opportunity to see where I am.

"That's probably my highest average in a TV tournament and I felt good. I was controlled and I stayed calm, even though inside I was doing cartwheels."

Durrant now plays Alan Norris, who survived one missed match dart from Australian newcomer Corey Cadby before escaping with the points from their Group E opener.

World Grand Prix champion Daryl Gurney was in clinical mood as he hit five doubles from eight attempts in seeing off Dutchman Danny Noppert, with the number four seed now meeting Mark Webster.

Webster defied a 156 checkout from namesake Darren Webster to claim a 5-3 as finishes of 96 and 117 turned the tie the Welshman's way.

Two-time World Champion Gary Anderson landed a 148 checkout as he overcame fellow Scot Cameron Menzies 5-3 in Group H.

Anderson now plays young Dutchman Berry van Peer, who battled against the effects of dartitis to defeat Simon Whitlock 5-4 in a tense opener.

"I'm very pleased with that," said Van Peer. "Simon missed some doubles and I took my chances but it wasn't easy.

"I had trouble with dartitis recently and I was okay, but at the World Youth Championship I got it back a bit. I've been back to the physiotherapist but on pressure moments it happens.

"It's hard to play with and I was trying to compose myself, but I got there in the end."

Former Wolverhampton finalist Dave Chisnall made a strong start with a 5-2 defeat of Scott Mitchell and now takes on St Helens rival Stephen Bunting, who opened Group F with a 5-4 win over Jeffrey de Zwaan.

September's Champions League of Darts winner Mensur Suljovic reeled off four straight legs from 2-1 down to defeat BDO number one Mark McGeeney with a 5-2 success.

Suljovic's opponent in their second Group G game will be Michael Smith after the former World Youth Champion saw off James Wilson 5-3.

The bwin Grand Slam of Darts continues on Sunday with the second round robin matches across two sessions at the Wolves Civic, with Saturday's winning players in each group facing off and the losing players also meeting.

The bwin Grand Slam of Darts will be broadcast live on Sky Sports from November 11-19.

Tickets for the bwin Grand Slam of Darts are available through www.wolvescivic.co.uk or by calling 0870 320 7000.

bwin Grand Slam of Darts
Saturday November 11
Afternoon Session

8x E-H Group Matches
Michael Smith 5-3 James Wilson (G)
Stephen Bunting 5-4 Jeffrey de Zwaan (F)
Berry van Peer 5-4 Simon Whitlock (H)
Alan Norris 5-4 Corey Cadby (E)
Dave Chisnall 5-2 Scott Mitchell (F)
Mensur Suljovic 5-2 Mark McGeeney (G)
Gary Anderson 5-3 Cameron Menzies (H)
Glen Durrant 5-2 Peter Wright (E)

Evening Session
8x A-D Group Matches
Gerwyn Price 5-3 Steve Lennon (B)
Robbie Green 5-1 James Wade (C)
Mark Webster 5-3 Darren Webster (D)
Rob Cross 5-1 Joe Murnan (A)
Phil Taylor 5-1 Peter Machin (C)
Michael van Gerwen 5-1 Ross Montgomery (A)
Raymond van Barneveld 5-1 Jamie Hughes (B)
Daryl Gurney 5-1 Danny Noppert (D)

Sunday November 12
Afternoon Session (1pm)

8x E-H Group Matches
Jeffrey de Zwaan v Scott Mitchell
James Wilson v Mark McGeeney
Peter Wright v Corey Cadby
Simon Whitlock v Cameron Menzies
Mensur Suljovic v Michael Smith
Gary Anderson v Berry van Peer
Alan Norris v  Glen Durrant
Dave Chisnall v Stephen Bunting

Evening Session (7pm)
8x A-D Group Matches
Joe Murnan v Ross Montgomery
Darren Webster v Danny Noppert
Steve Lennon v Jamie Hughes
James Wade v Peter Machin
Daryl Gurney v Mark Webster
Phil Taylor v Robbie Green
Michael van Gerwen v Rob Cross
Raymond van Barneveld v Gerwyn Price

All games are the best of nine legs.

LEAGUE TABLES

Group A

 

P

W

L

+/-

Pts

Michael van Gerwen

1

1

0

+4

2

Rob Cross

1

1

0

+4

2

Joe Murnan

1

0

1

-4

0

Ross Montgomery

1

0

1

-4

0

 

Group B

 

P

W

L

+/-

Pts

Raymond van Barneveld

1

1

0

+4

2

Gerwyn Price

1

1

0

+2

2

Steve Lennon

1

0

1

-2

0

Jamie Hughes

1

0

1

-4

0

 

Group C

 

P

W

L

+/-

Pts

Phil Taylor

1

1

0

+4

2

Robbie Green

1

1

0

+4

2

James Wade

1

0

1

-4

0

Peter Machin

1

0

1

-4

0

 

Group D

 

P

W

L

+/-

Pts

Daryl Gurney

1

1

0

+4

2

Mark Webster

1

1

0

+2

2

Darren Webster

1

0

1

-2

0

Danny Noppert

1

0

1

-4

0

 

Group E

 

P

W

L

+/-

Pts

Glen Durrant

1

1

0

+3

2

Alan Norris

1

1

0

+1

2

Corey Cadby

1

0

1

-1

0

Peter Wright

1

0

1

-3

0

 

Group F

 

P

W

L

+/-

Pts

Dave Chisnall

1

1

0

+3

2

Stephen Bunting

1

1

0

+1

2

Jeffrey de Zwaan

1

0

1

-1

0

Scott Mitchell

1

0

1

-3

0

 

Group G

 

P

W

L

+/-

Pts

Mensur Suljovic

1

1

0

+3

2

Michael Smith

1

1

0

+2

2

James Wilson

1

0

1

-2

0

Mark McGeeney

1

0

1

-3

0

 

Group H

 

P

W

L

+/-

Pts

Gary Anderson

1

1

0

+2

2

Berry van Peer

1

1

0

+1

2

Simon Whitlock

1

0

1

-1

0

Cameron Menzies

1

0

1

-2

0

MATCH INFORMATION

Glen Durrant (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

Glen Durrant made a sensational start to the bwin Grand Slam of Darts with a 106 average as he defeated Peter Wright 5-2 in their Group E opener in Wolverhampton.

The Lakeside Champion took on the PDC's world number two in the so-called "Group of Death" alongside Alan Norris and Corey Cadby, and showed his quality as he came from a leg down with a 127 bull finish before taking a 3-1 advantage.

Wright hit back in leg five, but Durrant landed a 180 as he regained his two-leg lead before punishing two misses from the Scot to seal the two points with double four.

"That's a perfect start for me and I'm delighted with that," said Durrant. "I wasn't sure exactly where my game was at and this is a real opportunity to see where I am.

"That's probably my highest average in a TV tournament and I felt good. I was controlled and I stayed calm, even though inside I was doing cartwheels.

"Beating Peter Wright is a great start but that's not everything finished. In a round-robin if you get off with a win it's great but I've still got to try and beat Alan and Corey."

Alan Norris (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

Alan Norris opened Group E with a hard-fought deciding-leg win over Corey Cadby, who missed his chance to take victory with one dart at tops in the deciding leg of the contest.

Norris moved 4-1 up as he responded to Cadby's opening 126 bull finish by taking out 105 and 110 in a run of four successive legs, only to pay for four missed match darts as the Australian hit back to level.

Cadby, though, missed a dart at tops for the win in leg nine as Norris followed up a well-timed 177 with double 12 for a 13-darter to snatch the points.

"The win is good and I want to try and win my next match now - I'm feeling good and I'm happy," said Norris.

"I could have won this sooner and Corey wasn't quite on his game, but he came back at me and the 177 was perfect timing in the last leg.

"He's an aggressive character on stage but he's a nice lad. He's got so much passion and wears his heart on his sleeve, and he's got so much talent."

Michael Smith (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

Michael Smith opened his challenge in Group G with a 5-3 win over James Wilson, who hit back from 3-0 down to level only to be punished as he missed his chance to send the tie into a deciding ninth leg.

"I got myself ahead but James came back well," said Smith. "I thought it was going all the way but he let me in and you've got to take your chances.

"I was lucky to get over the line but it's two point and I'll take that. I've topped my group in the last two years and hopefully I can do that again and have a good run."

Stephen Bunting (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

Stephen Bunting held off a strong fightback from Jeffrey de Zwaan as he escaped three missed match darts from the Dutch youngster to prevail 5-4 in their Group F opener.

Bunting led 2-0 and 4-1 before a missed bull for the match in leg six allowed qualifier De Zwaan in, as he took out a 120 finish, 78 and double 16 to force a decider.

De Zwaan then landed a fifth 180 of the game in the final leg, only to miss the bull and two subsequent darts at double eight to complete his comeback, with Bunting taking out 68 for the two points.

Berry van Peer (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

Berry van Peer made a winning debut on the bwin Grand Slam of Darts stage, edging out Simon Whitlock 5-4 in a nervy opener as the Dutch youngster - who is battling to overcome dartitis - took two points in Group H.

Five missed doubles in the opening leg were an early sign of Van Peer's struggles, but he came from 2-1 down to lead 3-2 only for Whitlock to then move 4-3 up.

The Australian though, missed one match dart in leg eight as double four forced a decider, and a further five missed match darts from Whitlock gave Van Peer a let-off as he returned on double ten.

"I'm very pleased with that," said Van Peer. "Simon missed some doubles and I took my chances but it wasn't easy.

"I had trouble with dartitis recently and I was okay, but at the World Youth Championship I got it back a bit. I've been back to the physiotherapist but on pressure moments it happens.

"It's hard to play with and I was trying to compose myself, but I got there in the end."

Dave Chisnall (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

Dave Chisnall made a strong start to his bwin Grand Slam of Darts challenge, overcoming Scott Mitchell 5-2 in their Group F opener.

After sharing the first two legs, Chisnall took three in a row - including a 12-darter to break throw - as he pulled clear, before closing out the win.

"The last time I played Scott he bashed me 5-1 here, so it's nice to beat him," said Chisnall. "I know what Scott can do but it was my day.

"I scored quite well and I was one step ahead of him. I'm up for it this week and I'm raring to go."

Mensur Suljovic (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

Mensur Suljovic's bid to win his second televised title began with a 5-2 defeat of Wolverhampton debutant Mark McGeeney.

BDO number one McGeeney led 2-1 early on as he came from a leg down to take the advantage, but Suljovic levelled before regaining the edge with a 13-darter, hit double five for a 4-2 lead before sealing the win in style with a 161 checkout.

"I'm pleased to win because I played well and finished well," said Suljovic. "This tournament is different because it's group and tomorrow is a different day, but I've practised well."

Gary Anderson (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

Former Grand Slam of Darts finalist Gary Anderson won the all-Scottish opener with debutant Cameron Menzies 5-3 to begin Group H in style.

Anderson came from a leg down to lead 3-1 and then took out a superb 148 finish to move 4-2 up, with Menzies hitting a showpiece 134 finish which included two double tops to keep his hopes alive before the PDC number three closed out the win.

"Cameron did okay - the last time I met him he was about 16 but he's a man now and he threw some good darts," said Anderson. "I love this tournament - I always have since I first came here in 2007 as a BDO player.

"It's my favourite event and I'd love to win it."

Gerwyn Price (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

Gerwyn Price held off Steve Lennon's fightback from 3-0 down to eventually claim a 5-3 win from their Group B opening tie to commence the evening session's games.

A brilliant start saw Price open with legs of 14, 15 and 11 darts to win the first three legs, and he also led 4-1 before the qualifier, on his Grand Slam debut, took the next two legs to keep the tie alive.

The Irish youngster, though, missed two darts in leg eight to take the game into a decider, and Price pounced to finally claim victory on double five.

"It was a good game and I enjoyed it," said Price. "I thought I scored pretty well all the way through the match and I felt comfortable, but I missed a few doubles at the end.

"Steve played well too so I'm glad I got the win."

Robbie Green (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

Two-time Grand Slam of Darts finalist James Wade suffered a 5-1 loss in his Group C opener as qualifier Robbie Green overcame a dramatic preparation for the event to claim two crucial points.

Green is currently waiting for a knee replacement operation which is scheduled for December and had a car crash in the week before he qualified for the Wolverhampton event.

The 43-year-old from Wallasey had also found himself in hospital during the night ahead of his Grand Slam opener following an insect bite to his head, but showed no ill-effects on the oche.

He punished six missed doubles from Wade to steal the opening leg and capitalised on another to move two legs up, before following up double four with a 12-darter to lead 4-0.

Wade rallied with a 171 score and a 65 finish to claim his first leg, but Green closed out the win to make an ideal start.

"James wasn't at his best tonight but I had to try and do as well as I could do," said Green. "A normal James Wade would have won that game - he's probably the best player never to win a World Championship - but I took my opportunities.

"It's been a crazy day but life throws challenges at you and you've got to overcome them. I woke up at 4am and my face was swollen, I had to go to A&E and they put me on antibiotics. It's feeling better and hopefully it will keep improving."

Mark Webster (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

Mark Webster won his Group D opener with namesake Darren 5-3 as he picked up two key points to begin the week in Wolverhampton.

Darren Webster had take out a 156 finish as he came from 2-1 down to lead 3-2, but finishes of 96 and 117 moved the left-hander back in front before double ten sealed the points.

"I'm pleased with that because it was a tough game," said the former Lakeside Champion. "Darren has been playing well and he gives it everything so it's a big win for me.

"It helps winning your first game and I want to build on that."

Rob Cross (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

Rob Cross made a superb Grand Slam of Darts debut, averaging 103.87 as he overcame qualifier Joe Murnan 5-1 in Group D.

Cross' first three darts were a 180 as he opened with a 13-darter, and he also took out 130 for a 12-darter to lead 3-0 before Murnan finished 137 to hit back.

The European Championship finalist, though, closed out the win with finishes of 13 and 14 darts to make an ideal start to continue his superb first year on the professional circuit.

"I'm getting more familiar with the TV stages now and feeling more relaxed," admitted Cross. "It's still a learning curve and hopefully I'll keep getting better.

"It was a different experience here because the stage is so close and you can almost touch the crowd but I enjoyed it. I've got to keep trying to do what I'm doing and play well."

Phil Taylor (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

Phil Taylor's final appearance at the bwin Grand Slam of Darts began with a comfortable 5-1 win over Australian debutant Peter Machin as the six-time champion averaged almost 100 in a comprehensive victory.

Taylor opened with a 13-darter which included a 180, and though Machin took out 80 to level, the Stoke legend pulled clear to claim four straight legs - including back-to-back 13-darters - and the two points.

"It's nice to win but I was a bit nervous, especially when I gave him the second leg," said Taylor. "Winning today isn't as important, you have to win tomorrow.

"The group means you can win today and then lose tomorrow and everyone is brought back together. It's a great format."

Michael van Gerwen & Ross Montgomery (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

Michael van Gerwen raced past Ross Montgomery by dropping just one leg as he opened his bid to win a third successive bwin Grand Slam of Darts title in style with a 101 average.

The Dutchman landed a 180 in an 11-darter to set the tone for the match and won the next three legs without reply before Scottish debutant Montgomery took out double 16 to respond, only for Van Gerwen to hit the same bed in sealing a 5-1 win.

"It's a good start," said Van Gerwen, the champion in Wolverhampton in 2015 and 2016. "I was never troubled and it was a solid win.

"I hit the right shots and the right moments and I want to keep that going. Of course I want to add another title this week and I know I've got more in the tank."

Raymond van Barneveld (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

2012 Wolverhampton winner Raymond van Barneveld came from a leg down to defeat local hero Jamie Hughes 5-1 in another strong performance.

Three missed doubles from the Dutchman allowed Hughes to edge the opening leg, but finishes of 76 and 71 put Van Barneveld in command before he closed out the win.

"I'm pleased and I've nothing to complain about after that," said Van Barneveld. "To win five legs on the spin you have to be happy, especially after that first leg.

"This is a big event and I love Wolverhampton. I'm still battling and I try to do my best, and I'm practising hard."

Daryl Gurney (Lawrence Lustig, PDC)

Daryl Gurney made a strong Grand Slam of Darts debut, hitting five doubles from eight attempts and dropping only one leg against Dutchman Danny Noppert.

Noppert responded to his opponent's opening 110 finish with an 80 checkout to level, but the Northern Irish ace reeled off the next four, including a 13-darter, as he took the points.

"I wanted to get on top of Danny early on because he's a brilliant player and I know how good he is so I'm glad to get the win," said Gurney. "I was very nervous tonight but sometimes the nerves help me and I'm happy to get the result."

Pictures by Lawrence Lustig