Clayton hails 'experience of a lifetime' after Wollongong win

Jonny Clayton (Sylvia Liber/PDC)

Jonny Clayton is hoping his success at the PalmerBet New South Wales Darts Masters will provide the catalyst for a prolific second half of the darting season.

Clayton dispatched James Wade 8-1 to clinch his first title of 2022 in front of a record-breaking crowd in Wollongong last weekend, with 4,000 fans in attendance at the WIN Entertainment Centre.

The Welshman – the reigning World Series of Darts Finals champion – suffered a chastening opening round defeat to Haupai Puha in Townsville, but he avenged that defeat in some style.

Clayton breezed past the New Zealander to set up a last eight showdown against Michael Smith, taking out a superb 136 finish to complete a 6-4 victory over the US Darts Masters winner.

The 47-year-old then demolished Joe Cullen 7-1 in the semi-finals, before turning on the style against Wade in Saturday’s showpiece, wrapping up victory with a spectacular 160 checkout.

"Hopefully I have proven to people that actually I can play darts," quipped the world number seven.

"This is why I've been invited to these events. I'm here to win tournaments, and this win means so much to me.

"I have never won anything with my family there, so it was a fantastic feeling to win in front of my wife and kids.

"It’s an experience of a lifetime. I’m honoured to be invited to these events, and I’m happy I have shown what I can do."

Clayton is enjoying his first year of World Series action, receiving an invitation following his trophy-laden 2021 campaign, which saw him lift four televised titles.

The former World Cup winner followed up his Masters triumph with Premier League and World Grand Prix glory last year, before adding the World Series of Darts Finals crown to his growing haul.

The Pontyberem ace has endured a largely frustrating 2022 season, despite producing a valiant defence of his Premier League title earlier this year.

Clayton became only the fourth player to top the Premier League table courtesy of victories in Liverpool, Birmingham, Aberdeen and Glasgow, but a title continued to prove elusive prior to his win in Wollongong.

However, after returning to the winner's circle for the first time since October 2021, Clayton is now eyeing back-to-back titles at the TAB New Zealand Darts Masters, as this year’s World Series roadshow culminates in Hamilton from August 26-27.

"This win is genuinely massive for me,” the Welshman added.

"Hopefully this will kick-start my season, and it would be fantastic to win again in New Zealand.

"I’m already looking towards Ally Pally in December. We’re all chasing the same dream, so if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.”