Coral UK Open Order of Merit
Following Qualifier Three
MICHAEL SMITH whitewashed Zoran Lerchbacher 6-0 to claim the Coral UK Open Qualifier Three title, as he ended nine-dart star Michael van Gerwen's unbeaten start to 2018.
The St Helens star followed up Friday's run to the Qualifier One final by going all the way to claim the £10,000 top prize as the weekend's three events at Wigan's Robin Park Tennis Centre concluded.
Smith had lost out to Van Gerwen in the final of Friday's opening event, but gained revenge with an outstanding display to take a 6-1 triumph from their quarter-final.
He had reached the last eight by virtue of 6-0 whitewashes of Mark Wilson and Steve Beaton, while he also overcame Adam Hunt 6-2 and German newcomer Gabriel Clemens 6-3.
Smith's romp against Van Gerwen was then followed by a 6-4 semi-final defeat of David Pallett, sealing the victory with a 132 bull-bull-double 16 combination.
The 27-year-old remained in clinical mood throughout the final, with Lerchbacher missing double 16 to claim the opening leg only to see Smith finish 78 to break and then take out 66 and 111 to lead 3-0.
Finishes of double 16 and double ten moved the Premier League star five legs clear, and he took out 89 in two darts to complete a brilliant performance and secure his eighth senior ranking title.
"My aim this year was to win four titles," revealed Smith. "Michael stopped me on Friday and that hurt me because I thought I was playing well, but I got my own back on him today.
"I think the closest game was David Pallett. He took me all the way to four-all but then missed a double and let me in to break, and then I checked the 132 out.
"To get my first title in the first weekend, I'll take that.
"My ranking is based on my floor events, not on TV - but this is my eighth title now and I can concentrate for the rest of the year now. I'm not chasing a win, I've got it in the very first weekend."
Austria's Lerchbacher followed up his only previous appearance in a PDC final, at a Players Championship last July, by winning through to the decider as he picked up £5,000 prize money and secured his second successive UK Open appearance.
A three-time World Championship qualifier, Lerchbacher overcame Tony Newell in a deciding leg to open his day before seeing off Dennis Smith, Robbie Green, Matthew Edgar and Paul Nicholson to reach the last 16.
There, he defeated Dave Chisnall 6-3, dropped one leg against James Wilson in the last eight and then battled past John Henderson 6-4 in the semi-finals.
Henderson's run to the last four was his best ProTour finish since September 2016, as he overcame Martyn Turner, Paul Rowley, Mick McGowan, Dave Prins and Jamie Hughes.
Pallett's semi-final appearance was his best result since reaching the same stage in a European Tour event in September 2015, with the Shropshire ace defeating Martin Schindler, Bradley Brooks, Peter Hudson, Jamie Lewis, Kim Huybrechts and Joe Cullen.
Wolverhampton's Hughes followed up a last eight finish on the PDC Unicorn Challenge Tour last weekend and Saturday's run to the last 16 with a quarter-final on Sunday.
Cullen and Wilson joined Hughes and Van Gerwen in the last eight, while Qualifier Two quarter-finalist Mervyn King and Qualifier One quarter-finalist Huybrechts were amongst the last 16.
Prins was appearing in the last 16 for the second time over the weekend, and having also reached the last 32 is in line to compete for a third time in four years at the UK Open, having previously qualified twice as an amateur.
Van Gerwen's nine-dart finish - the third of the weekend in Wigan - came during his last 16 clash with fellow Dutchman Jermaine Wattimena, before the world number one saw his hopes of completing a weekend treble ended by Smith.
The Coral UK Open Qualifiers conclude next weekend with the remaining three events from Friday February 9-Sunday February 11, after which the top 96 players progress to compete in the Coral UK Open in Minehead from March 2-4.
Qualifiers Four-Six will be streamed live through PDCTV-HD at www.pdc.tv, with play in Friday's event beginning at 2pm and Saturday and Sunday's events commencing at 12pm.
Coral UK Open Qualifier One
Sunday February 4, Robin Park Tennis Centre, Wigan
Michael Van Gerwen 6-2 Jermaine Wattimena
Michael Smith 6-3 Gabriel Clemens
Joe Cullen 6-4 Mervyn King
David Pallett 6-4 Kim Huybrechts
Jamie Hughes 6-1 Michael Rasztovits
John Henderson 6-3 Dave Prins
James Wilson 6-5 Keegan Brown
Zoran Lerchbacher 6-3 Dave Chisnall
Michael Smith 6-1 Michael Van Gerwen
David Pallett 6-4 Joe Cullen
John Henderson 6-3 Jamie Hughes
Zoran Lerchbacher 6-1 James Wilson
Michael Smith 6-4 David Pallett
Zoran Lerchbacher 6-4 John Henderson
Michael Smith 6-0 Zoran Lerchbacher