Column #HR343 BACK OFF!  Famous writers are allowed mulligans!

Wednesday, May 16, 2022
Column HR343
BACK OFF!  Famous writers are allowed mulligans!

This adventure in darts will be copacetic with a warning to the persnickety.  Back off!  The Old Dart Coach is allowed literary freedom.  All famous writers are allowed mulligans.

Prior to the start of the 2022 PDC Premier League season, the PDC decided to change the tournament format.  It was common sense, although the ODC would never call the head honcho Matthew Porter “common” – more likely Sir.

Before the PDC as dinosaurs roamed the earth, the likes of Mr. John Lowe, Erik Bristow and Jocky Wilson were etching their exploits on cave walls.  That’s the Premier League the ODC seems to remember – but it’s unconfirmed so if he’s wrong it’s because his last few mental marbles have deserted him.

The changes the PDC made would keep interest the entire league season and maybe insert a little drama – any the top four could haul in the £275,000 on finals night on June 13 in Berlin.

A look at the rules might help as the Premier League is lasting longer than the ODC’s marriage.  Each week is a mini- tournament with the winner getting 5 points (and £10,000), the runner up 3 points and semifinalists 2 points each.

In Sheffield (night #15), the three players currently out of the playoffs (Price, Cullen and Smith) face a daunting task of winning, then hoping those above lose.  While Jonny Clayton and MvG had clinched the first two spots the picture improved for the three when James Wade, in third place, had to drop out due to illness.  The “wise guys” pegged Michael Smith as the most likely to move up as he had come off a pair of Players Championships on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Peter Wright, in fourth place, had to lose for the Three Amigos chances to improve.  Being the gentleman, he is Wright followed the script – getting basted by Michael van Gerwen 6-1 with yet another set of gold darts that were untrainable.  Joe Cullen got the free pass recording a 6-0 win over James Wade.

Gerwyn Price was in 7th place – about where his playing deserved.  His hopes were high as he played Gary Anderson who, after a win in week one, had been pretty much MIA.  Price took a 3-nil lead which morphed to 3-2 thanks to 2 missed doubles by Price.  Anderson would close to 3-4 when an 11-darter gave Price the 2-leg advantage which would hold for the 6-4 win.

Michael Smith was faced with a daunting task against four-time winner Jonny Clayton.  Clayton led 4-1, missing one from 32 for 4-2.  Clayton’s lead grew to 5-2 in 11 darts after Smith, working on his own 11-darter, scored only 8 from 81.  Then, the “fhit hit the san.”  Smith reeled off 4 in a row aided by Clayton’s 2-misses in leg 8 and 1 in leg 9 and 10.  Smith 6-5.

Gerwyn Price would dim Cullen’s play-off hopes with a powerful 6-3 win.  Price would average 100.82 to Cullen’s 90.66.  More importantly, Price would check at a 60% rate.

Smith, after dispatching Clayton, found next on the menu one MvG.  Smith grabbed the early lead 4-1 when the tsunami arrived giving MvG a 6-5 win.

Michael van Gerwen built a 3-1 advantage when during leg 4 Price threw a dart temper tantrum.  Still seething, Price got a leg back in 13.  Price seemed to be unraveling when he went down 4-2, including a turn from 134 when he went T4, 25, 19.  The dart God intervened when Price won in 15 after MvG missed 4 from 24, drawing even at 4.

van Gerwen missed the Red Bull from T70 getting only the Green as Price took his first lead 5-4.  van Gerwen leveled at 5 with a 95-check with Price waiting to strike at 24.  Against the darts Price’s approach of 128 left 56 which he erased in two for the 6-5 win.

When the Premier League is called to order by the always resplendent John McDonald at the 02 in London on Thursday night, it could tell the tale of the 2022 PL.

While Clayton and MvG have the top two spots, James Wade could be the fly in the ointment.  He’s at 25 points in 3rd place.  With 10 points out, there he’ll need help from others by beating the top two.  Wade is favored over Wright who’s at 20 points, leading Price by 2, Cullen by 3 – with Smith’s chances from slim to none at 12 points.

Gerwyn Price over Jonny Clayton would set up a semi against either Smith or MvG.  Should Joe Cullen beat Gary Anderson he’d face the Wade/Wright winner.  Then on to Utilita Arena in Newcastle where the night will be seeded according to the standings.

The Championship Dart Circuit had a quadruple header in Indianapolis last weekend.  On Friday, Danny Lauby, David Cameron, Leonard Gates and Doug Boehm qualified for the Bet 365 US Darts Masters and North American Darts Championship June 4-5 in New York.  They’ll join Danny Baggish, Jules van Dongen and Canada’s Jeff Smith and Matt Campbell.   Smith, Gates and Baggish will be making repeat appearances.

Canadian Matt Campbell never trailed as he collected a convincing 7-4 win over Danny Baggish in the first CDC event on Saturday.

In the afternoon “Soldier” Leonard Gates wreaked havoc with the guys from Canada taking out Matt Campbell (6-4), then John   Norman Jr., 6-5.

Against Norman both would hold when Gates broke in 13 to lead 4-2.  Norman would level at 4 and then both held to see the match tied again at 5.  Gates finished in 16 for the 6-5 win.

In his 7-5 win against Chuck Puleo in the finals, Gates average 97 and Puleo 96.

Danny Baggish ended the weekend with a 7-5 win over Leonard Gates where he led 3-1 and 5-2.  Gates would capture 3 to tie – to no avail as Baggish took the final two with Gates denied a look at a double.

“Dear Reader” must admit that everything has been copacetic with nary a pernickety comment.

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.