Column #HR235 The road to (and from) Mandalay

Monday, July 9, 2018
Column HR235
The road to (and from) Mandalay

When but a young toddler the Old Dart Coach’s pater used to love singing “On the Road to Mandalay” (where the flying fishes play). In all honesty Frank Sinatra on his “Come Fly with Me” album did a better job.

The ODC had opined, Money made available by the PDC ($90,200) – should entice every steel point player that whines, ‘We need to play a better format for better money.’  Either step up in significant numbers or the PDC will put the ‘release hold’ on North America for good. Step up they did to the tune of 170 players that traveled that Mandalay road.

More than the “usual suspects,” as Captain Renault in Casablanca said.  The darting royalty of North America showed up, many of them with the credentials to be called “greats” in future years.  Missing was last years’ champion Willard J. “Willie the Chief” Bruguier.  The South Dakota police officer sent his regrets with a note that said “life happens.”  Yes, it do.

Some, good league players, took up the challenge to test their abilities by dipping a toe into the shark infested waters of Mandalay Bay.  Ron Gayman from the London Bridge Dart Association (Lake Havasu, California) was one of those.  To date, Ron’s resume shows some 14 scores of 120 or more in his 12-week league season. This was a giant step for Ron.

After 2 days of qualifying, 8 were left standing to vie for the North American Championship. From Canada: John Norman Jr., Dave Cameron, Jeff Smith, Ross Snook, and Dawson Murschell. From the US: Danny Lauby, John Huffman and D.J. Sayre.

Considering the above, the ODC is hereby calling on the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, to immediately place a very high tariff on Canadian dart players coming into the USA. We must protect our workers.

During the North American championships whoever started the match won 57.58% of the time. John Norman Jr. had the highest 9-dart average (101) when he laid the synder on David Cameron 6-0. Next up was D.J. Sayre who proved that the highest overall average in a match (94.77) means little when Dawson Murschell goes 6/7 on doubles, building a 3-0 lead to win 6-3.  Terre Haute, Indiana, portsider Danny Lauby built a 5-1 lead and then won 6-4 in 14 darts. Jeff Smith reached the semi finals in a seesaw match where both could have won.  Smith would emerge victorious when Ross Snook couldn’t close in the final two legs hence losing 6-5.

In the semis John Norman Jr. took out Dawson Murschell by using a bull finish to draw even at 5, then winning 6-5.  The first 5 legs of the other semi between Jeff Smith and Danny Lauby went with the darts. With Smith leading 3-2 they then traded breaks for 4-3 when Smith finally broke and then held for the 6-3 win.

Averaging 85.10, Jeff Smith broke a 3-3 finals match with a 121 finish on the bull to go up 4-3 on his way to a 6-4 win over John Norman Jr. for the North American Championship and a nice payday.

The story of the first round of the USA Dart Masters was not pretty for the home folks. Only Dawson Murschell’s 6-2 victor over Gerwyn Price brought glory. Last year, Murschell beat James Wade to advance.  In fact, Wade should have been gone this year as Danny Lauby built a 5-3 lead before Wade drew even at 5 and then won it with an 158-check.

Day 2 of the USA Dart Masters was a barn burner with great darts and the total dismantling of the “Marvelous One,” Michael van Gerwen, by James Wade 8-3.

In a group that included the ODC, Casablanca’s Captain Renault might have been shocked to know there was gambling going on. In loser picks David “The Duck” Miller ended up with James Wade. Ready to pay before the match he instead headed upstairs to restock provisions for the group (as there was also some partying going on).  In line he asked the score. When the lady said 6-1 he cursed. When she said “Wade” he did the Snoopy Dance as well as could be expected.

The Robb Cross vs. Michael Smith match went with the darts until Cross broke in the 13th leg winning 8-6. Peter Wright engaged in a “ding dong doozie” with Daryl Gurney, winning 8-6. Gary “Gary, Gary, Gary” Anderson, in the first round, was down briefly to Dawson Murschell. “The Group,” not wanting to bet on the match, instead set over/under wins by Murschell at 4. The ODC, wise as he is, took the overs as “Anderson has trouble hitting doubles.”  Anderson wins 8-5. ODC wins 2-1.

In the semifinals Anderson fell behind a red-hot James Wade 6-2. At this time, the ODC predicted (fluid induced no doubt) that Anderson would not only win the match but win the US Dart Masters. He got 2-1 from a machine dart player from Puyallup, Washington (pronounced PEW WALLOP, NOT PULLY UP). Wade wilted under the scoring barrage of Anderson who finally leveled at 7 and then checked 75 for the 8-7 win.

As was the Anderson MO, he fell behind early to Rob Cross at 3-0 and 4-1. Cross, a former electrician, then got an electric shock as Gary Anderson turned up the voltage punishing Cross’ missed doubles.  Anderson took the next 7 legs on the trot sending Cross packing with a stun gun 164 checkout that had the crowd in hysterics. To say nothing of the ODC who got 2.

The win was worth £20,000 – which is worth even more in real money.

What of London Bridge Dart League player Ronald Gayman? A little back story here…

Robert McCulloch was an eccentric millionaire with a penchant for “booze’s and broads.” Sounds like a dart player.  In 1963, he bought thousands of empty acres around the newly formed Lake Havasu founding the community of Lake Havasu. He needed a tourist attraction.

London Bridge was in disrepair with London looking to sell.  McCulloch bought it in 1968 for $2,460,000.  We poured an awful lot of scotch trying to loosen them up enough to give us some idea of how much they wanted.  Londoners today believe that he thought he was buying the Tower Bridge which is lovely but got the butt ugly London Bridge instead. Call it their every year 4th of July payback.

Back to Gayman. He lost straight away in the first qualifier.  Q-2 was a different story as he got to 32 before  losing to Q-1 finalist Chuck Puleo. Q-3 produced a quick exit but he top 64 in Q-4. For the week his entry fees were $400 and he won $300. Heck of an education for $100.  He did good.

Stay thirsty my friends.

 

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Howie Reed
The one and only Howie Reed (the Old Dart Coach) goes back decades with the legends of our sport - he knows where the skeletons are buried. Just ask any of the ADO and WDF old-timers! His widely popular column, Toeing the Oche, is a must-read.