Szaganski Shocks Scutt

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Radek Szaganski secured his maiden PDC ranking title with victory over Connor Scutt in Friday’s Players Championship 27 to cap off an astonishing day of action in Barnsley.

Polish-born Szaganski, a bus driver now based in Ireland, produced a series of stunning displays to become only the second Polish player to win a PDC ranking event.

Szaganski defeated four PDC title winners on his way to scooping the £12,000 top prize, which saw him join his compatriot Krzysztof Ratajski in the 2023 winner’s circle on a potentially career-defining day.

The 43-year-old has now moved into the provisional qualification places for next month’s Cazoo Players Championship Finals, and is all but assured of a Paddy Power World Darts Championship debut in December.

However, it could have been a very different outcome for Szaganski, who survived four match darts in his opening round tie against French World Cup star Jacques Labre.

Szaganski capitalised on this reprieve to record wins over Premier League duo Dimitri Van den Bergh and Jonny Clayton, averaging 102 to see off Wales’ World Cup champion.

He then dumped out Thursday’s PC26 winner Ryan Joyce in the last 16, before progressing to a maiden PDC final with comprehensive victories over Maik Kuivenhoven and Ricardo Pietreczko respectively.

This set up an unlikely showdown against Surrey star Scutt, who also claimed a host of high-profile scalps to secure the biggest payday of his career at the Barnsley Metrodome.

The pair were both featuring in their maiden PDC ProTour final, but it was Scutt who enjoyed the stronger start, converting a brace of clinical combination finishes to establish a 2-0 cushion.

Szaganski opened his account with a 118 outshot in leg three, although Scutt consolidated his early advantage with convincing holds to stretch his lead to 4-2.

The Polish ace hit back with a 142 checkout in leg seven, sparking a purple patch which saw him reel off three consecutive legs to seize the initiative at 5-4.

Scutt responded with a 14-dart leveller in leg ten, but Szaganski powered to the title in sensational style, following up a brilliant 11-dart hold with back-to-back legs to wrap up a landmark success.

“To be the best player in that room today, it means a lot,” admitted Szaganski, who still faces a battle to retain his PDC Tour Card in January, having climbed to 76th on the Order of Merit.

“When I won my Tour Card [in 2022], I thought I might get one good run, but I never expected to win a title.

“To be honest, I shouldn’t be here because in my first game against Jacques, he missed four darts for the match, but this is darts. Sometimes you need luck, and that is what happened to me today.

“This means a lot. There are no words to explain how I feel right now, but I am really happy. This could be life-changing.”

Scutt also moved into the provisional World Championship qualification spots after pocketing the £8,000 runner-up prize, defeating two TV title winners during a terrific campaign.

Connor Scutt during the 2022 World Darts Championship at Lakeside. Pic WDF/Chris Sargeant

The 27-year-old overcame Adam Gawlas, Kim Huybrechts and Jamie Clark to reach the last 16, surviving a match dart in his comeback victory against the Belgian in round two.

Scutt then landed a ten-darter to topple European Champion Ross Smith with a 103 average to reach the quarter-finals, where he fended off a late onslaught from Gary Anderson to seal a 6-4 success.

In the semi-finals, Scutt closed out a hard-fought 7-5 win over Winmau World Youth Championship finalist Gian van Veen, to boost his own hopes of retaining his professional status next January.

Van Veen performed superbly in his run to the semi-finals, averaging 106 to edge out Rob Cross in a thrilling last 32 tussle, before denying Stephen Bunting and Ryan Searle in last-leg tussles.

The young Dutchman succumbed in the semi-finals along with newly crowned German Darts Champion Ricardo Pietreczko, who was bidding to win his second ranking title in the space of six days.

The popular German came through deciding-leg ties against veteran duo Mensur Suljovic and Raymond van Barneveld, having averaged 99 in an earlier victory against Nick Kenny.

Wednesday’s winner Anderson – appearing in his 100th Players Championship quarter-final – continued his sparkling form, averaging 108 in his third-round destruction of Gabriel Clemens.

The Scottish legend was joined in the last eight by Dutch duo Zonneveld and Kuivenhoven, as well as his practice partner Searle, who averaged 105 to dispose of Daryl Gurney in the last 32.

Gurney had earlier fired in a nine-dart finish to complete a deciding-leg win over Nick Fullwell in round one, which he backed up with an incredible 117 average in a second round whitewash of Ian White.

This week’s Players Championship action will conclude with Players Championship 28 on Saturday, where coverage from all four streaming boards will be broadcast live on PDCTV.

Daryl Gurney hit a nine-dart finish during his first round win over Nick Fullwell.

2023 Players Championship 27
Friday October 20
The Barnsley Metrodome
Last 16
Connor Scutt 6-3 Ross Smith
Gary Anderson 6-1 Darryl Pilgrim
Ryan Searle 6-5 Josh Rock
Gian van Veen 6-5 Stephen Bunting
Ricardo Pietreczko 6-5 Raymond van Barneveld
Niels Zonneveld 6-1 George Killington
Maik Kuivenhoven 6-4 Andrew Gilding
Radek Szaganski 6-4 Ryan Joyce

Connor Scutt 6-4 Gary Anderson
Gian van Veen 6-5 Ryan Searle
Ricardo Pietreczko 6-4 Niels Zonneveld
Radek Szaganski 6-1 Maik Kuivenhoven

Connor Scutt 7-5 Gian van Veen
Radek Szaganski 7-3 Ricardo Pietreczko

Radek Szaganski 8-5 Connor Scutt


Images: PDC unless credited.


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