Tearful Joe Cullen secured the first televised title of his career with a superb 11-9 win over Dave Chisnall in Sunday’s Ladbrokes Masters final.
Cullen had never previously reached a televised decider, but continued the progress he has made in recent years by finally claiming big-stage glory.
In the process, he scooped the £60,000 Masters title at Milton Keynes’ Marshall Arena, following up Sunday’s earlier wins over Michael van Gerwen and Jose de Sousa with victory against Chisnall.
Cullen had claimed a maiden televised win over Van Gerwen with a 10-7 quarter-final win, and was an 11-8 victor against De Sousa in the last four. He then held off Chisnall’s fightback from 5-2 down in a dramatic final, as legs of 12, 14 and 12 darts saw Cullen take command.
Chisnall, though, took three in a row to hit back before Cullen sandwiched an 82 finish between 14-darters to regain command at 8-5, before taking out 126 to move to the brink of victory at 10-7.
He missed ten match darts across the next two legs as Chisnall kept his hopes alive and pulled back to 10-9, but Cullen pinned double 18 in the next to write his name into the history books.
The win comes only three months after Cullen’s mother passed away, and the 32-year-old emotionally celebrated the success with his father on stage.
“I’ve dreamed of this moment for a long time,” said Cullen. “I felt like I was going to win it at the start of the day, so to actually get over the line feels amazing.
“It’s bitter-sweet. I’d love my mum to have been here to see me do it but life’s not always fair. I miss my mum dearly so that’s definitely for her.
“I lost my mum in October and it’s absolutely gut-wrenching. That was for my mum.
“It was special to have my dad here. Losing a parent is always tough, so to have my dad by my side supporting me is great.”
Victory in the 2021 Masters sparked a run of four TV titles for Jonny Clayton, and Cullen is hoping to emulate that success after claiming his maiden big-stage triumph.
“It’s a foot on the ladder and it’s something that a lot of players higher ranked than me haven’t done, so it can only be a positive going forward,” he added.
“Hopefully this is the first of many. I’ve proved I can do it on TV and it’s even more pleasing because I played well.
“My finishing all weekend has been pretty good but you can’t practice for the moment you have a dart to win a TV title.
“I felt comfortable for the whole game and then all of a sudden I thought I was going to win and that’s when it all goes to pieces, as you saw.
“The double 18 at the end was more a relief. I got over the line and that’s all that matters.”
Chisnall saw off World Championship finalist Michael Smith in Sunday afternoon’s quarter-finals and ended Jonny Clayton’s Masters title defeat with an 11-7 semi-final success.
However, he suffered defeat in the ninth televised title of his career to mean his own wait for big-stage glory continues.
“Joe deserved to win that,” admitted Chisnall. “It just wasn’t there tonight – I didn’t play that well but he let me in and I took my chances.
“The crowd were brilliant and I’ll be back – I’ll keep trying to win my first major and get the big trophy.”
Clayton’s defence of his Masters title saw him overcome world number one Gerwyn Price in the quarter-finals before losing out to Chisnall.
Five-time champion Van Gerwen was joined in losing at the quarter-final stage by Smith, Price and Simon Whitlock
2022 Ladbrokes Masters
Sunday January 30
Dave Chisnall 10-8 Michael Smith
Jonny Clayton 10-8 Gerwyn Price
Jose de Sousa 10-9 Simon Whitlock
Joe Cullen 10-7 Michael van Gerwen
Dave Chisnall 11-7 Jonny ClaytonJoe Cullen 11-8 Jose de Sousa
Joe Cullen 11-9 Dave Chisnall
Lead Image: Take Wu / PDC
Darts World Magazine (Issue 577) and 2022 bundle offers
Subscribe or purchase your copy