KYLE ANDERSON will start the defence of his title with a clash against Haupai Puha at the Trusts Arena as the 2018 Auckland Darts Masters, presented by TAB and Burger King, gets underway.

Anderson beat Corey Cadby to lift his first TV title back in 2017 and will be searching for more success as the PDC’s World Series of Darts continues down under with events in Auckland, Melbourne and Brisbane.

After beating Gary Anderson in the opening round last year, the Australian then saw off Simon Whitlock, James Wade and Cadby to lift the title.

“It’s been hard to keep up with what happened to be honest, as it was such an emotional rollercoaster at the time,” said Kyle on his achievement.

“It meant a hell of a lot - I had friends I hadn’t seen for ten years watching me in the crowd, and to perform in front of them was something special.

“I am looking forward to this one, I feel good and i’m hoping that comes out on stage.”

His opponent, 33-year-old Puha, is no stranger to professional sport having previously been a professional Golfer on New Zealand and Australian Pro-Am circuit.

Peter Wright faces 21-year-old hot prospect Tahuna Irwin in the opening round at the Trusts Arena.

Irwin, who has also qualified for the World Darts Championship in December, was a spectator at the 2017 Auckland Darts Masters which he states motivated him towards qualification this year.

“When I was there, the atmosphere was amazing and that inspired me to want to get up there - and here I am now.

“I hope to just be the best I can, I don’t want to be wasting the time that I have.

“I’m very excited to play Peter, to test myself and experience everything before the World Championship.

“Win or lose, I am still happy that I even got there. But of course the goal is to win - and I know I have the talent to do that, I just have to use it.”

Michael van Gerwen’s bid to get back to winning ways starts with a clash against Cody Harris.

32-year-old Harris is well known in the PDC ranks, having played previously at the World Darts Championship and UK Open.

Gary Anderson, who won the BetVictor World Matchplay on Sunday (July 29), will conclude the first round against Australian Tim Pusey.

Following the withdrawal of Cadby due to visa issues, Ben Robb - third on the DartPlayers New Zealand rankings - steps in to face Simon Whitlock in the opening game of the competition.

Michael Smith, the most recent winner on the World Series of Darts in Shanghai, faces 50-year-old Mark McGrath.

World Champion Rob Cross, a finalist in both Shanghai and Las Vegas, will be looking to go one better as he takes on Christchurch native John Hurring.

And in a rematch of the first round in 2017, Raymond van Barneveld takes on 54-year-old Warren Parry.

Tickets are still available for all three days of the 2018 Auckland Darts Masters

The Auckland Darts Masters, presented by TAB and Burger King, will be broadcast live on Sky Sport in New Zealand and worldwide through the PDC's series of international broadcast partners, as well as for PDCTV-HD Rest of the World Subscribers.

UK TV coverage on ITV4 will be from 7pm on each day.

Auckland Darts Masters, presented by TAB and Burger King
Friday August 3 (7pm local time)
First Round

Simon Whitlock v Ben Robb
Rob Cross v John Hurring
Michael Smith v Mark McGrath
Raymond van Barneveld v Warren Parry
Kyle Anderson v Haupai Puha
Peter Wright v Tahuna Irwin
Michael van Gerwen v Cody Harris
Gary Anderson v Tim Pusey

Draw Bracket
(1) Rob Cross v John Hurring
Simon Whitlock v Ben Robb
(4) Michael Smith v Mark McGrath
Raymond van Barneveld v Warren Parry
(2) Gary Anderson v Tim Pusey
Michael van Gerwen v Cody Harris
(3) Peter Wright v Tahuna Irwin
Kyle Anderson v Haupai Puha