GUTSY VAN DER VOORT CLAIMS AUSTRIAN DARTS OPEN WIN
Vincent van der Voort won his first ranking title since 2011 as he claimed victory in the Austrian Darts Open European Tour event in Salzburg, overcoming Jamie Caven 6-5 with a dramatic comeback in Sunday's final.
The Dutch star had begin his challenge in the event in Thursday's European Qualifier, but took home the 20,000 pound first prize after battling through the field to enjoy the second biggest pay-day of his career.
Van der Voort defeated fellow Dutchman Christian Kist in Friday's first round and then saw off Justin Pipe and Brendan Dolan to reach Sunday night's final stages.
There, he defeated three-time World Champion John Part 6-2 and then ended the hopes of Austrian number one Mensur Suljovic with a 6-3 semi-final triumph, hitting a key 11-darter before sealing victory with a 13-dart leg.
The final saw him produce arguably his finest display as he hit back from 5-2 down to claim victory.
The early stages were close as the pair shared the opening four legs, with Caven finishing double six and 111 to hold throw, while van der Voort posted a 12-darter in leg two and hit another 180 and an 88 finish to level.
Caven posted double 12 to win the fifth and landed scores of 180 and 177 in an 11-darter to break, before hitting another maximum as he moved 5-2 up - punishing an error from van der Voort for the second time in the game as the Dutchman paid for missing a single number to leave a double.
Van der Voort, though, fired his comeback with double 16 in the eighth leg before taking out tops to pull back to 5-4, and a brilliant 136 checkout took the game into a decider.
With the momentum, van der Voort was first to a finish and took out 83 on double eight to claim his first European Tour win, as he celebrated with a dance across the stage at the Salzburg Arena.
Ironically, van der Voort's last ranking title had come three years ago in Austria in a Players Championship, with the Dutch star having slipped down the rankings since as he battled against a back injury.
"I'm so happy at the moment," said an emotional van der Voort, whose win takes him up six places to 24th in the PDC Order of Merit. My celebration at the end shows how much this means to me and I don't have the words to describe this - it's unbelievable."
Caven had won through to the final with four successive 6-5 victories, only to fall in a deciding leg against van der Voort as he took home the 8,000 pound runner-up cheque.
Having seen off Terry Jenkins on Saturday, he then knocked out Stephen Bunting in a deciding leg in the third round and produced an 11-dart leg to snatch victory in a see-saw quarter-final with Phil Taylor.
Caven's semi-final against Peter Wright also went the distance before he edged into the final with a 15-dart leg as the World Championship finalist waited on 32 - but his luck finally ran out against van der Voort.
"I've got no complaints," said Caven. "At 5-2 up in the final I thought Vincent would have to do something extra special, and Vincent's finishing was superb in the last few legs. The 136 was a killer. If I'd had darts at doubles and missed then I'd have been a bit sore, but his finishing was magnificent and he deserved to win."
Suljovic had seen his hopes of claiming a maiden PDC title on home soil ended in the semi-finals, as he eventually went down 6-3 to van der Voort after following his earlier wins over Dennis Smith, Ian White and Robert Thornton with a 6-2 quarter-final victory against Andy Smith.
World Championship finalist Wright joined Suljovic in taking home 4,000 pound by reaching the last four as he followed up Saturday's 6-3 win over Michael Smith by defeating Steve Beaton by the same scoreline in the third round.
He then enjoyed a narrow 6-5 quarter-final victory over Wes Newton, with the Fleetwood ace taking out finishes of 150, 117 and 138 only to see his opponent fire in an 11-darter in the deciding leg to take victory - before he was undone in an 11th leg by Caven in the semis.
Birthday boy Smith had enjoyed a 6-2 third round win over Ronnie Baxter before he went down to Suljovic, but the 3,000 pound prize money improves his hopes of qualifying for July's BetVictor World Matchplay in Blackpool.
A run to the same stage was not enough, though, for Canadian ace Part to qualify for the World Matchplay, meaning that the two-time World Matchplay finalist will miss the Winter Gardens event after he missed out in the UK Qualifier for next weekend's Gibraltar Darts Trophy.
Lakeside Champion Bunting was joined by Dolan, Beaton, Baxter, Thornton, Simon Whitlock, Dean Winstanley and Dutch youngster Benito van de Pas in losing out in Sunday afternoon's third round of the 100,000 pound event at the Salzburg Arena.