Danny Noppert defeated Michael Smith 11-10 in a dramatic Cazoo UK Open final to win his first televised title at Butlin’s Minehead Resort on Sunday.
A tense climax to the 158-player tournament saw both players bidding to claim a televised ranking title for the first time, having come through the quarter-finals and semi-finals earlier in a dramatic third day of action.
Smith looked set to claim the biggest title of his career when – having earlier overcome world number one Gerwyn Price and youngster Keane Barry – he went 10-9 up in the final, only for Noppert to battle back in a captivating climax to the tournament.
The penultimate leg saw Smith miss a match dart at the bullseye for a 124 checkout, before Noppert pinned a crucial double four to hold throw and then fired in a 180 on his way to a 13-dart break to claim the title.
“I am over the moon, this is a special moment for me,” said Noppert, who defeated Damon Heta and William O’Connor in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively.
“I can’t believe it; I have said before that I want to lift a trophy but I never thought it would be at such a big tournament like the UK Open.
“It was a hard game at the end of a long day, we both wanted to lift this trophy so much and neither of us played like we can.
“I think I can take big steps forward in my career now.”
Noppert, who became a father for the first time in February, climbs to 12th on the PDC Order of Merit courtesy of the £100,000 winner’s prize.
Meanwhile, Smith was left dejected after suffering an eighth successive defeat in a televised final in a four-year period, missing 20 darts at a double in the final which included one for the title at the bullseye.
“I was trying too hard to win, fair play to Danny,” said Smith. “It’s yet another final loss, it’s very hard to take.
“I can only blame myself, my doubles were awful and my scoring was bad.”
The two-time World Championship runner-up came close to a perfect weekend in Somerset, having hit a nine-darter on Saturday.
Despite the defeat, Smith moves up to fourth on the PDC Order of Merit courtesy of the £40,000 runner-up prize.
Earlier in the day, Smith ended Price’s reign as world number one with a quarter-final win over the Welshman, as Peter Wright moves top of the Order of Merit.
Polish 18-year-old Sebastian Bialecki’s fairytale run also came to an end in the last eight as he went down 10-9 to William O’Connor.
Irish teenager Keane Barry ended James Wade’s title defence in the quarter-finals, while countryman O’Connor also exited at the semi-final stage as the pair enjoyed their most successful runs in individual televised events.
2022 Cazoo UK Open
Sunday March 6
Keane Barry 10-4 James Wade
William O’Connor 10-9 Sebastian Bialecki
Danny Noppert 10-5 Damon Heta
Michael Smith 10-7 Gerwyn Price
Michael Smith 11-6 Keane Barry
Danny Noppert 11-9 William O’Connor
Danny Noppert 11-10 Michael Smith
Images: Taylor Lanning/PDC
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