MICHAEL SMITH secured his second ranking victory of the year with a 6-2 win over Adrian Lewis in the final of Players Championship Seven at the Barnsley Metrodome on Saturday.
The Unibet Premier League star followed up his victory in a Coral UK Open Qualifier in February by scooping the £10,000 top prize in the first of two Players Championships being held this weekend.
Smith had whitewashed Raymond van Barneveld in the Premier League in Liverpool on Thursday, and maintained that form with a brutal 113 average in his 6-0 first round win over Eddie Dootson - who will be the St Helens ace's best man at his forthcoming wedding!
Smith then overcame Gary Eastwood and Jermaine Wattimena, seeing off the latter in a deciding leg, before claiming another whitewash victory, against Kyle Anderson.
A 6-4 quarter-final win over James Wilson was followed by a narrow semi-final defeat of St Helens rival Dave Chisnall, who missed the bull to snatch victory in their decider.
Lewis started the final well with a 13-darter, but Smith levelled in 14 darts and then took out a stunning 158 checkout to break throw and lead 2-1 after the Stoke ace turned down a chance to throw for the bull.
Lewis hit back to level with another 13-dart leg, but Smith took out 130 on the bull to regain his lead, tops to hold and then 81 for a 5-2 cushion before closing out the win.
"I think the last Players Championship I won was in Benidorm in 2012 so I've had to wait six years for this and I'm over the moon now," said Smith, after claiming his ninth senior ranking win.
"I got lucky against Jermaine Wattimena and in the last three legs I went 12, 11 and 13 and I was 5-3 down again against Dave Chisnall in the semis and managed to pull it out of the bag.
"Adrian let me in twice for two decent finishes, I pinged them and didn't look back."
Smith's success takes him halfway to achieving his aim at the beginning of 2018 of winning four titles, although the St Helens ace is refusing to rest on his laurels.
"I said at the beginning of the year that I wanted to win four titles this year. - the most I've ever done before was three," he added.
"I work three to six hours a day, seven days a week non-stop. I might be natural but if you don't practice and put in the hard work it's not going to happen."
The defeat for Lewis denied him a first ranking title since April 2017, although the run to the final was the 33-year-old's best finish of this year as he continues his bid to return to the world's top 16.
Lewis opened the day with a fine 6-3 defeat of Raymond van Barneveld, repeated the scoreline against Ritchie Edhouse and then whitewashed Jamie Lewis.
The two-time World Champion then produced a further trio of 6-3 scorelines as he saw off Nathan Aspinall, Stephen Bunting and Jeffrey de Zwaan to reach the final, with his mid-range finishing around the 120 mark proving crucial in his progress.
Young Dutchman De Zwaan impressed as he battled to claim a spot in a third final of the year.
He was taken to a deciding leg by Jarred Cole, Jan Dekker, Robert Thornton and Max Hopp during the event, although his highlight was a stunning 6-0 whitewash of Benito van de Pas in which De Zwaan averaged 116.
Chisnall was aiming to reach a second successive Players Championship final as he overcame Martin Schindler, Devon Petersen, Ron Meulenkamp, Chris Dobey and John Henderson on the day.
Stephen Bunting followed up Friday night's nine-darter in a Eurpean Tour UK Qualifier with a run to the quarter-finals, while Henderson, Wilson and Hopp also won through to the last eight.
The day also featured a nine-dart finish from Nathan Aspinall during his second round win over Alan Norris, before the former World Youth Championship finalist later lost to Lewis in the last 16.
The Players Championship weekend concludes on Sunday with Players Championship Eight in Barnsley.
See full Players Championship Seven results in the Match Centre.
Players Championship Seven
Saturday April 7, Barnsley Metrodome
Stephen Bunting 6-4 Peter Wright
Adrian Lewis 6-3 Nathan Aspinall
Jeffrey de Zwaan 6-5 Robert Thornton
Max Hopp 6-4 Daryl Gurney
Michael Smith 6-0 Kyle Anderson
James Wilson 6-4 Ryan Joyce
Dave Chisnall 6-0 Chris Dobey
John Henderson 6-4 Cristo Reyes
Adrian Lewis 6-3 Stephen Bunting
Jeffrey de Zwaan 6-5 Max Hopp
Michael Smith 6-4 James Wilson
Dave Chisnall 6-2 John Henderson
Adrian Lewis 6-3 Jeffrey de Zwaan
Michael Smith 6-5 Dave Chisnall
Michael Smith 6-2 Adrian Lewis