PETER WRIGHT took victory in the opening Coral UK Open Qualifier as he edged out Adrian Lewis 6-4 in Friday's final in Wigan, securing his ninth ranking title as Michael van Gerwen's unbeaten streak came to an end.
The world number three continued his superb run of form by maintaining his record of reaching at least the quarter-finals of every event he has competed in since October as he picked up his first UK Open Qualifier triumph.
Having overcome Jelle Klaasen on the opening night of the Betway Premier League on Thursday, Wright maintained that form in early wins over Michael Barnard and Mark Barilli.
He then edged out Premier League rival James Wade in a deciding leg, saw off Mark Webster and Steve Beaton and then whitewashed Peter Hudson to reach the final.
There, he picked up three early breaks of throw to open up a 4-1 lead over Lewis, only for the former UK Open champion to show his class by hitting back to level at four-all.
However, a missed double top in the ninth leg from Lewis was punished as Wright - the UK Open runner-up in the past two years - took out 68 to lead 5-4 before closing out the win in style with a 13-dart finish.
Wright's £10,000 first prize ensures his qualification for March's Coral UK Open TV Finals, which will feature the top 96 professionals from the UK Open Order of Merit following the six Qualifiers being staged in Wigan during February.
Lewis, the 2014 UK Open champion, came within touching distance of winning the opening UK Open Qualifier for a third successive year before having to settle for the £5,000 runner-up prize.
The world number four defeated Robert Owen, Stoke rival Mark Frost and Spain's Cristo Reyes to reach the last 16, where he gained revenge for Thursday's Premier League defeat to Raymond van Barneveld with a 6-1 triumph.
He then saw off Australia's Kyle Anderson by the same scoreline before coming from 3-0 down in his semi-final against Ricky Evans.
Hudson's display was his best on the ProTour, following three previous quarter-finals, as the Eccles ace defeated Warrick Scheffer, Callan Rydz, Rob Cross, Mervyn King, Kirk Shepherd and Benito van de Pas in an impressive day.
The £2,500 prize money will secure Hudson his eighth successive UK Open appearance in March as he bids to better three previous runs to the last 64 of the event.
Kettering's Evans also reached the semi-finals to seal his Minehead place, defeating Mark Forman, Ron Meulenkamp, Bernd Roith, Lee Bryant, Alan Tabern, John Michael and William O'Connor on Friday.
Australia's Kyle Anderson made a successful return to action on the PDC circuit with a fine run to the quarter-finals, which included wins over top 16 stars Ian White and Jelle Klaasen.
Dutchman Van de Pas, Irish ace William O'Connor and former Lakeside Champion Steve Beaton also won through to the quarter-finals, while Greece's John Michael and South Africa's Devon Petersen were amongst the last 16 losers.
Two-time UK Open champion Raymond van Barneveld, former World Championship finalist Kirk Shepherd, former Lakeside Champions Jelle Klaasen and Mark Webster, Scotland's John Henderson and youngster Matthew Dennant also reached the fifth round to pick up £1,500 in the race for UK Open spots.
The day, though, was less memorable for World Champion Michael van Gerwen as his unbeaten run - which stretched back to October 16 - was ended with a 6-5 loss to Ritchie Edhouse in the last 64.
The Dutchman had seen off Mick Todd in his opening game, but lost out as the 33-year-old carpet fitter from Enfield, who won his PDC Tour Card at Qualifying School in Wigan a fortnight ago, claimed the biggest win of his career.
Saturday sees the PDC ProTour weekend continue with the second of three £60,000 Coral UK Open Qualifiers, with over 240 players set to be in action.
Live coverage of the event will be broadcast online through www.livepdc.tv for all PDCTV-HD Subscribers worldwide, as well as through a series of bookmakers' websites.
NB: From the original entries, Mensur Suljovic withdrew for family reasons.