MICHAEL VAN GERWEN'S amazing run of form continued as he won a third successive title at the Mr Green Sport Players Championship Finals on Sunday night, defeating Jonny Clayton 11-2 in the final.
The Dutchman has won the European Championship, World Series of Darts Finals and Grand Slam of Darts titles over the past month, and extended his unbeaten streak to 28 matches as he scooped the £100,000 title.
Van Gerwen had seen off Jan Dekker in their all-Dutch quarter-final earlier on Sunday and then pulled clear from two-all to win 11-3 against Justin Pipe in the semi-finals.
He was equally dominant in the final against Welshman Clayton, who never recovered from seeing Van Gerwen race into a five-leg lead before the Dutchman closed out yet another big title.
The world number one set the tone with two 180s in a 12-darter to open the game, and also finished 100 in leg five to move 5-0 up, with Clayton claiming two of the next three to reduce the arrears.
Van Gerwen, though, finished an 11-darter as he moved 8-2 up and added a 13-darter to edge towards victory before double five sealed glory for a fourth time in five years.
"It's been a phenomenal weekend," said Van Gerwen. "It was a great tournament, I think I played really well and I had to perform against new players round by round, so I had to keep my focus.
"Jonny did great to reach the final. It's a big step for him because he wasn't in the top 32, so it's a massive step for his career. Fair play to him, he did really well but I'm glad I won the final.
"After not being here for the UK Open [in March] I'm really glad to be back here with this trophy.
"I've won the last four TV tournaments so this is great for my confidence going into the World Championship - but I'll enjoy this title first."
Clayton had won through to his first TV final, with his career-high £40,000 in prize money moving the 43-year-old into the world's top 32 for the first time and putting himself in line for a Grand Slam of Darts place in 2018.
Clayton showed his class by coming from 7-4 down to defeat Steve Beaton 10-8 in the quarter-finals before also fighting back from a 6-3 deficit to see off top seed Rob Cross 11-8 in the semis.
"You take one game at a time, and to get this far in front of this amazing crowd was awesome," said the Pontyberem ace. "I've had a brilliant weekend and the support I've had has been amazing.
"When you play against Michael on form like that it's really difficult, but I enjoyed the final. I'm proud of what I've achieved this weekend.
"It's a learning curve, my first final and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I'll take a lot out of that game."
Pipe's run to the semi-finals was his best finish in a televised ranking event for four years - since he previously reached the semi-finals of the same event for a second time in 2013 - as he defeated Daryl Gurney 10-9 in the last eight.
Cross was also a semi-finalist as he continued his impressive debut year on the PDC circuit with a fine 10-6 win over leading left-hander James Wade in their quarter-final.
Sunday also saw Belgium's Dimitri Van den Bergh win the PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship title, defeating Josh Payne 6-3 in the final with an impressive 101.23 average as he claimed the £10,000 title.
Mr Green Sport Players Championship Finals
Sunday November 26
Rob Cross 10-6 James Wade
Jonny Clayton 10-8 Steve Beaton
Justin Pipe 10-9 Daryl Gurney
Michael van Gerwen 10-7 Jan Dekker
Best of 19 legs
Jonny Clayton 11-8 Rob Cross
Michael van Gerwen 11-3 Justin Pipe
Best of 21 legs
PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship Final
Dimitri Van den Bergh 6-3 Josh Payne
Best of 11 legs
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Mr Green Sport Players Championship Final
Michael van Gerwen 11-2 Jonny Clayton
Best of 21 legs
Michael van Gerwen Video Interview
Jonny Clayton Video Interview
Rob Cross reached to his second televised semi-final with a 10-6 defeat of James Wade in Sunday's opening quarter-final.
Top seed Cross raced into an early 3-0 lead, taking out 85 on the bull for a 12-darter in leg two, before Wade took out 121 to get off the mark.
Wade also pulled back to 5-3 before a superb 148 finish from Cross moved him 7-3 up and he also moved to the brink of victory at 9-4.
Five missed match darts allowed the left-hander to hit back with checkouts of 64 and 76 to keep his hopes alive, a third 74 checkout of the game from Cross secured his spot in the last four.
Jonny Clayton won through to his first televised semi-final with a fine comeback to defeat Steve Beaton 10-8, winning six of the game's final seven legs.
The Welshman landed two 14-darters as he shared the opening six legs, before Beaton capitalised on missed doubles to move into a 6-3 lead.
Clayton hit back with a 120 finish before Beaton landed double 16 to move 7-4 up, but the Pontyberem ace won five legs in a row to move ahead for the first time, before finishing 70 to seal a memorable win.
Justin Pipe secured a spot in his first TV semi-final for four years after claiming a remarkable 10-9 win over Daryl Gurney - only ever leading when he landed double 16 to take the deciding leg of a tight contest.
Gurney had led 2-0, 4-2, 6-4 and 9-7 without ever being able to shake off the tenacious Taunton ace, who finished 66 and double 12 to save the game as he pulled back to nine-all without his rival having a dart for victory.
Despite Gurney having the advantage of throw in the decider, Pipe was first to a finish before recovering from one miss at double 16 for the win to return and hit the bed to progress to the last four.
Michael van Gerwen eventually saw off the challenge of Jan Dekker in their all-Dutch quarter-final to remain on course for a third successive Players Championship Finals title.
The World Champion made a storming start, hitting two 180s in a ten-darter to open the game and further legs of 14 and 13 darts as he moved 4-1 up with an average of almost 121.
Dekker took out 102, 100 and double four to hit back and level, and also remained locked at six-all and seven-all with the world number one.
Van Gerwen, though, produced a huge blow with a 180 and a 128 checkout for a 12-darter to regain the lead in leg 15, landed his tenth maximum as he won a ninth leg and then sealed a hard-fought win on double 14.
Michael van Gerwen
Jonny Clayton won his place in a first televised final as he produced another gutsy fightback in an 11-8 semi-final victory over Rob Cross at the Butlins Minehead Resort.
The Welshman trailed 3-0 and 4-1 before landing six perfect darts in a 12-darter to claim leg six.
European Championship finalist Cross regained a three-leg lead before Cross took four legs from five to level at seven-all.
Cross finished 88 to move 8-7 up, but Clayton levelled with a 120 finish, took out tops to lead for the first time, finished double 18 to lead 10-8 and then sealed his place in the final with double six.
Michael van Gerwen's bid to win a fourth Players Championship Finals title in five years continued as he overcame Justin Pipe 11-3 in their semi-final at the Butlins Minehead Resort.
Taunton's Pipe - appearing in the last four of the Players Championship Finals for a third time - shared the opening four legs as he landed a pair of 12-darters which each featured two 180s.
Van Gerwen, though, reeled off the next seven legs without reply in an imperious spell to move 9-3 up, with Pipe landing a 180 and double 18 to respond before the Dutchman took out 96 and double two to seal the win.
Rob Cross & Jonny Clayton
Michael van Gerwen
Pictures by Lawrence Lustig