Column #HR331 Dart God bakes NEW DUTCH TREAT!

Wednesday, March 9, 2022
Column HR331
Dart God bakes NEW DUTCH TREAT!

Every person who has ever thrown a dart knows there’s a Dart God (aka Tungsten Tillie).  It’s the voice that says “Pal (or Palette if female or Whisky Foxtrot Tango if declined to state), this is your day.”  A bit fickle, she is also capable of delivering a swift kick in the backside with no warning.

Premier League night 4 was a tour de force for five-time champion Michael van Gerwen as the Dart God said, “You’re back” – 18-3 in legs including a 6-0 Snyder of Peter Wright in the finals. The key to beating van Gerwen?  Early in a match he’ll give you a chance to turn the tide.  If not, it’s “Good night, nurse.”

“I think it was a really important win tonight,” said MVG.  “I’ve been waiting for this for quite a long time.”  The night set van Gerwen up for the weekend’s Cazoo UK Open.

It would have been fitting had the resplendent John McDonald, in ringmaster attire, opened the UK Open proceedings with, “Welcome ladies and gentlemen from around the world to the 2022 Cazoo UK Open Darts Tournament.  Over the next four days, you will marvel as 158 tungsten twirlers toe the line and travel a thrilling and twisted path on 8 stages in 126 matches – all in a quest to triumphantly claim the title of 2022 UK Open Champion.”

The UK Open is unique in that every round is redrawn with the exception of the final. The PDC did notify the ODC that they had “two balls in hand.”

The Dart God created a “hex” (that is what she does) on North American players.  None would see day 2 after dreadful day 1.  Canadian Matt Campbell got pummeled by 18-year old Polish youngster Sebastian Bialecki 6-1.  The “hex” hit in leg 1 when Campbell missed 4 from 40, losing in 23 darts.

Fellow Canadian Jeff Smith lost to Martin Schindler 6-2.  Smith took the initial leg in 14 (126, 93, 122, then 3 from 20).  Smith’s double trouble cost him three legs with a missed bull, 2 from 36 and 3 from 32.

Yank Jules van Dongen squeaked out a 6-5 win over Mario Vandenbogaerde.  van Dongen would lose his next match by simply being overpowered 6-3.  van Dongen got within 1 at 4-3 with a 107 check but never again saw a double.

Danny Lauby beat Niko Springer 6-5 and then easily beat Paul Hogan 6-3.  Against Andy Bouton, Lauby would lead 5-3 when his scoring disappeared – losing the next 3 and the match.

Danny Baggish fell behind John Michael 1-5 with doubles awry.  The Dart God stepped in as Baggish the won 5 on the trot for the 6-5 victory.  Dutchman Ron Meulenkamp ended Baggish’s UK Open 6-2.

With “the usually suspects” mostly sitting out until round four there were a couple of “death draws.”  Peter Wright had considered withdrawing due to a gall stone attack but didn’t – much to the chagrin of Joe Cullen, as he fell to Wright 9-6.  Wright’s tournament would end in the round of 16 to William O’Conner 10-7.

Michal van Gerwen and Gary Anderson faced off in their first 2022 UK Open appearance and van Gerwen prevailed 10-7 in a match where doubles were elusive – they combined for 17 for 49.  Anderson had a chance to force a decider but missed 4 doubles in the last two kegs.

Of little notice was Spain’s Jose Justicia who collected a 9-darter for a 5-3 lead.  Then the Dart God raised the “fickle finger” and Justica lost 6-3.  James Wade also had a 9-darter in a 10-8 win over Boris Krcmar and Michael Smith joined the tournament’s 9-dart club with one against Mensur Suljovic, wining 10-9.  The Dart God was with Smith as he won the 19th leg in 21 darts.

In addition to the usual suspects two names emerged – Damon Heta and 19-year old Irish lad Keane Barry.  Aussie Heta would take out van Gerwen (10-4) and Jonny Clayton (10-8) before losing to Danny Noppert 10-5.  Keane Barry had a 10-9 squeaker against Niels Zonneveld, otherwise he sailed along on smooth waters.  His trip included a 10-4 win over defending UK champ James Wade to advance to the semis.

In the semis, Barry would face off against Michael Smith.  The smooth rhythm throwing Smith was searching for his first major TV title while Barry was simply searching for a title.  Their styles were similar which would lead one to believe that Smith, with experience, had the advantage.  Barry led at the first break 4-1 with Smith taking the second 3-2.

At 6-3 down, Smith returned from the brake “en caliente.”  Barry, lacking experience, seemed to not realize that the only way to stop a rhythm player is to break the rhythm.  And boy did Smith take him to school winning 8 in a row for an 11-6 win.  Smith would average 101.

The other semi set William O’Connor against Danny Noppert, two with similar deliberate styles.  O’Connor, a veteran from Ireland, reached this stage beating Peter Wright (10-7) and then teenager Sebastian Bialecki (10-9) with an 89 check after Bialecki missed from 150.  O’Conner opened a 5-1 lead which Noppert would counter to then lead 9-8 in the race to 11.  O’Conner then had treble trouble, find just two in the next two legs, losing in 15 darts each.

The final matched “Ying and Yang” throwing styles in Smith and Noppert.  Noppert was attempting to join Raymond van Barneveld and Roland Scholten as Dutch UK Open Champs.

Smith’s 3-nil lead was reduced to 3-1 when Noppert took out 114 (T20, 14, d20).  At 5-5 Smith won the leg but maybe not the war using 5 darts from 32. That prompted some head shaking – indicating that “thinking” entered the head of rhythm player Smith.  Not good.

Noppert used Smith’s 5 missed doubles to level at 6.  Smith came back to lead 7-6 and then 8-7, overcoming missed doubles.

Methodical Noppert with his steely-eyed stare showed no emotion, even after three missed doubles to trail 9-8.  Noppert leveled though in a sloppy 21 darts as Smith, following a T80, could only manage 104 points from 150, and then botched his finish.

At 10-9 Smith would miss the bull on the end of a 124-out which gave Noppert a re-do on 36, which he turned in to 18.  The Dart God giveth 3 – so Noppert used them all (9, 1, d4) to level at 10.

In the decider Noppert built a lead off a T80, then an 83 turn followed by T40 to leave 40.  Smith was at 146 but then applied no pressure as he tossed 20-9-3.

Noppert used just one to erase 40 in 13 darts – and score the win.

The Dart God got some “splaning” to do as she denied Michael Smith his first TV title, crowning Danny Noppert the “Dutch Treat.”

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.
Howie Reed

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