AUSTRIAN GLORY FOR CLAYTON IN ALL-WELSH FINAL
JONNY CLAYTON secured his maiden PDC European Tour title with an 8-5 defeat of Gerwyn Price in Sunday's Austrian Darts Open final in Graz.
The Welshman had picked up his first PDC tournament win in October 2017, and had to wait just six months to taste glory once more as he scooped the 25,000 pound title.
The tournament's first visit to the Steiermarkhalle in Graz had looked set to see a home victory as Austria's Mensur Suljovic soared into the semi-finals.
Clayton, though, denied the Champions League of Darts winner with a gutsy 7-6 triumph in their last four meeting, before following up earlier wins over James Wade and Ian White by overcoming Price in an all-Welsh final.
Legs of 13 and 14 darts from Price gave him an early 2-1 lead, only for Clayton to respond in kind as he regained the advantage.
The pair continued to trade the lead as Price moved 5-4 up, but a 120 checkout from Clayton in leg ten was followed by a key hold in the next as he punished his rival's two misses at tops to lead 6-5.
Clayton then fired in two 180s in an 11-darter to move to the brink of victory, and sealed the title in style by ending a 14-darter on double ten.
Clayton - the runner-up in the 2017 Players Championship Finals - follows last weekend's German Darts Open winner Max Hopp in joining the PDC European Tour roll of honour, in a success which could be significant for his career.
He is now set to partner Price in the Betway World Cup of Darts, and is also in line to qualify for the BetVictor World Matchplay, Unibet World Grand Prix and Unibet European Championship.
"It's my first [European Tour] title and I'm chuffed to bits," said Clayton. "It's been a great weekend for me.
"It's been a brilliant crowd - I had to play against them all against Mensur but I got through it.
"It's nice to see Welsh darts back on stage. There are some brilliant players and we're all there to do a job."
With the 25,000 pound moving Clayton further ahead of Jamie Lewis in the race to partner Price in the World Cup, the Pontyberem ace added: "It's something I would really like to do, so this is a big step towards that."
Price's run to the final continued his resurgence since his elimination from the Unibet Premier League recently, as he enjoyed his best-ever finish on the European Tour.
Overcame Wayne Jones in Sunday afternoon's third round before hitting six doubles from seven attempts in a superb 6-3 quarter-final defeat of World Champion Rob Cross.
Price then edged out Joe Cullen 7-6 in a tight semi-final, but was unable to complete his bid for a third ranking title.
"I'm thrilled for Jonny, it's brilliant for him," said Price. "Winning's always good but I just wanted to perform well.
"I think this weekend I performed well in patches, not all the way through, but I'll take a lot of positives out of this weekend. I'm looking forward to what the up and coming weeks are going to bring."
Cullen defeated former European Tour event winners Mervyn King and Michael Smith on Sunday as he won through to his first semi-final of the year.
Suljovic, meanwhile, was unable to give the 2,000-strong sell-out crowd in Graz their dream of a home winner, seeing off Cristo Reyes and Daryl Gurney in style before missing out to Clayton.
Premier League stars Smith, Cross and Gurney were joined in the last eight by White, who went down 6-4 to Clayton as the Welshman charged to his second ranking title.