Whitlock claims major title with European Championship triumph
SIMON WHITLOCK won his maiden major title with an 11-5 win over Wes Newton in the PartyPoker.net European Championship final on Sunday night, completing a brilliant weekend of darts by scooping the £50,000 first prize in Germany.
The Australian had been a loser in three previous major finals, including the McCoy's Premier League Darts this May, but ended that run in style to defeat Newton.
Whitlock followed up wins over Mark Walsh and Dave Chisnall in the first two rounds with a 10-7 quarter-final defeat of Colin Lloyd and an 11-9 semi-final triumph against Kim Huybrechts on Sunday at the RWE Sporthalle in Muelheim.
After taking an early 5-2 lead in the final, he landed a 167 checkout in establishing a 9-4 cushion, and even seven 180s from Newton was not enough to save him from defeat as Whitlock delighted the partisan German crowd by sealing victory.
"I've been so close to winning a major in the last couple of years and I'm absolutely ecstatic to finally win one," said a tearful Whitlock.
"I came into the weekend confident after winning a Players Championship last Sunday and I've taken that form into this tournament. It had been a couple of years since I'd won a tournament but this is two in as many weeks now and I'm just over the moon.
"The crowd here were fantastic and although their support for me can make it tough for my opponents, their reaction has been amazing and I have to thank them because they've made the event really enjoyable.
"I'm so happy and I want to go on from this now and win more major titles, the World Championship and become world number one - I want the lot!
"This a dream finally coming true and I'm so proud of what I've done. Wes is a fantastic player and he's had a great tournament but I played really well and was so determined to win that final."
The pair made a superb start to the final with 180s in the opening leg and shared the first four before Whitlock took three in a row to take command, hitting a 180 in taking leg five in 13 darts, before double ten broke throw for the first time and double six earned him a 5-2 lead.
Newton fired in a 13-darter to hit back and bettered that with an 11-dart finish as he cut the gap to 6-4 in his best spell of the game.
Whitlock, though, found an extra gear to win the next three legs, with a brace of 14-dart finishes sandwiching a magnificent 167 checkout as he pushed into a 9-4 lead to move two legs away from the title.
Newton, aided by his sixth maximum, took the next to stay in the hunt but could only watch on as Whitlock finished 94 to lead 10-5 before defying a 180 from the number five seed to seal victory with double eight.
The win jumps Whitlock up to fifth in the PDC Order of Merit as he moves above Newton, who suffered defeat in his second major final after being the runner-up in the 2011 UK Open.
"It's been a good weekend and although I'm disappointed to lose the final, I'll take the positives out of it," said Newton.
"I felt good going into the final but it just didn't happen for me. It was a really hard game for me, the crowd were on Simon's side and he played really well, and he deserved to win.
"It hurts to lose in the final because you're so close, but on the other hand it's another final and I'm taking steps in the right direction - hopefully one day I'll win one."
Newton's run to the final included an 11-9 semi-final victory over his room-mate, Northern Ireland's Brendan Dolan, which saw him come from 9-6 down to win five straight legs for victory.
He also defeated Andy Hamilton 10-8 earlier on Sunday in the quarter-finals, and took home £20,000 as runner-up.
Dolan, the runner-up in last year's World Grand Prix, ended Phil Taylor's four-year reign as European Champion with a superb 10-6 win over the world number one in their quarter-final clash.
Belgium's Kim Huybrechts joined Newton in reaching the semi-finals courtesy of a sensational 10-8 win over Raymond van Barneveld in the last eight.
Huybrechts - who only turned professional in July 2011 after qualifying for last year's European Championship - now moves into the world's top 32 for the first time after earning £10,000 prize money.
PartyPoker.net European Championship
Sunday September 23
Wes Newton 10-7 Andy Hamilton
Brendan Dolan 10-6 Phil Taylor
Kim Huybrechts 10-8 Raymond van Barneveld
Simon Whitlock 10-7 Colin Lloyd
Wes Newton 11-9 Brendan Dolan
Simon Whitlock 11-9 Kim Huybrechts
Simon Whitlock 11-5 Wes Newton
Brendan Dolan v Wes Newton
0-0 - Wes Newton wins the bull and throws first.
0-1 - Newton makes an explosive start by scoring 180, 125 and 180, and although he misses five darts to win the leg he finally lands double two to win the opener.
1-1 - Dolan replies to two 140s from Newton with a 180 of his own, and finishes 61 on double 18 to level.
2-1 - Newton hits a 180 to leave 43, but it comes in vain as Dolan takes out 80 on tops.
3-1 - Newton is again waiting on a finish as Dolan hits tops, this time with his third dart at the bed.
3-2 - Dolan lands a 180, but Newton is first to the double and posts double four to hit back.
4-2 - Dolan finishes double eight to edge away once again.
4-3 - Newton matches the double eight finish to win the seventh.
4-4 - The pair trade 180s, with Newton initially missing double top and ten but being allowed back to nail double five after Dolan is off-target on tops for a 118 checkout.
4-5 - Newton hits the front by taking out double top.
5-5 - Dolan levels by posting double 12.
6-5 - Dolan breaks throw in dramatic circumstances, with Newton first to a finish only to miss darts at double 14, seven and two to allow the Northern Irishman in to take out 86.
7-5 - Newton misses two darts at double 14, and Dolan steps in the finish double 16 to lead by two legs.
7-6 - Newton hits back to within a leg by winning the 13th.
8-6 - Newton lands a 180 but misses seven darts to win the leg to allow Dolan back in to finish double ten.
9-6 - Dolan edges closer to victory, hitting double 18 to finish 54.
9-7 - Newton breaks back, initially missing tops but being allowed back following two misses at double 16 from Dolan to finish double five.
9-8 - Newton posts his sixth 180, and although he misses the bull to finish 161 he returns to post double eight.
9-9 - Newton levels with another break of throw, posting double eight to square the game and effectively make the tie the best of three legs.
9-10 - Newton wins a fourth straight leg, landing tops to move a leg away from victory.
9-11 - Newton completes an amazing fightback to reach his second major final, finishing 61 on double four.
Wes Newton: "I'm delighted to be through. I felt great at the start of the game and when I went behind I had to believe it would come right for me, and it did. I got over that winning line eventually and I'll try to relax and enjoy the final now."
Brendan Dolan: "Wes was tremendous on doubles and he out-scored me and fair play to him, but from being 9-6 up I don't think I should have lost it. I've had a great tournament though and I'm pleased to reach the semi-finals."
Kim Huybrechts v Simon Whitlock
0-0 - Kim Huybrechts wins the bull and throws first
0-1 - Whitlock opens the final with 140 and 180, and when Huybrechts misses the bull for a 164 finish and two darts at double eight the Australian recovers from an earlier miss to land tops and break throw immediately.
0-2 - Huybrechts misses double 16 for a 106 finish to break back, and Whitlock finishes tops with his third dart to double his lead.
0-3 - Whitlock's brilliant start continues as he hits a 180 and takes out 92 in two darts to win a third successive leg.
1-3 - Huybrechts wins his first leg in style, hitting a 180 and a 104 checkout.
2-3 - Huybrechts lands another maximum and this time finishes 102 as he cuts the gap to one leg.
3-3 - Huybrechts hits double ten to level the contest.
4-3 - The Belgian wins a fourth successive leg, taking out 83 on double 16.
4-4 - Whitlock levels by finishing 58.
5-4 - Huybrechts takes out 122 on the bull, with Whitlock waiting on a double.
5-5 - The pair trade 180s, and Whitlock finishes 80 on double ten to level again.
6-5 - Double 16 sees Huybrechts regain the lead.
6-6 - Whitlock opens with a 180 and levels on double eight.
7-6 - Huybrechts lands a 180 and finishes double four to edge back ahead.
7-7 - The tit-for-tat continues as Whitlock opens again with a 180 and finishes 68 on tops.
8-7 - The tension reaches fever pitch as Whitlock bids to break - only to miss seven darts at a double and allow Huybrechts back from four misses to finish double nine and edge ahead.
8-8 - Whitlock opens with a 180 and lands double ten with his third dart to level the contest.
8-9 - The Australian kicks off with his seventh 180 of the contest, and goes on to land double four to lead for the first time since leg five.
8-10 - Whitlock's charge continues as he hits a maximum to leave 44, which he finishes on double four.
9-10 - Huybrechts produces a sensational 132 checkout to save the match, hitting two bullseyes and double 16.
9-11 - Whitlock finishes 95 on the bull to win through to the decider.
Simon Whitlock: "It was such a tight game and I'm on top of the world to have won. I'm really excited and I'll go up there for the final, give it my best and hopefully I can get the win."
Kim Huybrechts: "It's disappointing to lose the semi-final but I played really well and we took each other all the way. The 132 was a lovely finish and I believed I could still win it, but Simon had a brilliant last leg."
Wes Newton v Simon Whitlock
0-0 - Simon Whitlock wins the bull and will throw first.
0-1 - Both players hit 180s but Whitlock holds throw to win the opener by taking out 16.
1-1 - Newton pins double top at the first time of asking to level matters.
1-2 - Whitlock finishes double seven to win the third leg.
2-2 - Newton hits double top again.
2-3 - Whitlock fires in a maximum and lands double eight to edge back ahead.
2-4 - Whitlock breaks for the first time by landing double ten with his third dart.
2-5 - Double six from Whitlock wins him a third successive leg.
3-5 - Newton fires in a 180 to leave 40, and polishes off double top for a 13-darter.
3-6 - Whitlock lands a 180 and finishes double eight to move beyond half-way towards the title.
4-6 - Newton hits 180, 100, 140 and takes out 81 on double 12 for an 11-darter to hit back.
4-7 - Whitlock misses the bull for a partypiece 170, but returns to land double eight to regain his three-leg cushion.
4-8 - Whitlock finishes 167 on the bull to break throw again and move four legs clear of his opponent.
4-9 - Newton opens with a 180 but Whitlock finishes 58 to move two legs away from the title/
5-9 - Newton hits 140 and 180 as he hits back to win his fifth leg of the game.
5-10 - Whitlock moves a leg away from his first major by taking out 94 on double 16.
5-11 - Newton kicks off with a 180, but wastes his chance to keep the game alive and Whitlock lands double eight for his maiden major title.