PAUL NICHOLSON won his third PDC ProTour event of the year with victory over Steve Brown in the final of Saturday’s Eddie Cox Memorial Players Championship at the Barnsley Metrodome.

Nicholson followed up his pair victories in Crawley earlier this year with a fine display to scoop the £6,000 first prize in Barnsley.

Having defeated Gary Anderson and Phil Taylor in reaching the quarter-finals of the Speedy Hire UK Open last week, he continued that form to sweep through the 111-player field.

Newcastle-born Nicholson overcame Louis Blundell, Peter Wright and Mark Webster in his opening three matches before taking a fine 6-1 win against Mervyn King in the quarter-finals.

He then edged a dramatic semi-final with Dave Chisnall, who came from 3-1 down to level before the pair progressed to a deciding leg.

Chisnall, also a quarter-finalist in the UK Open, was first to a finish but missed five darts for victory before Nicholson clawed back and then took out 76 in two darts to reach the final.

Brown led 1-0 and 3-2 in the final, courtesy of a 118 finish in the fifth leg, but was punished for missing the bullseye for checkouts of 161 and 164 in the next two legs as Nicholson hit back-to-back 13-darters to move 4-3 up.

Brown also missed two darts at double top to break and level in the eighth leg as Nicholson edged to the brink of victory, and though Brown hit double four to keep the match alive it was Nicholson who sealed the win in the tenth leg on double ten.

Nicholson dedicated the victory to Wes Newton, partner Stacy and newborn baby Fraser Newton, who was born on Friday and led to last week’s UK Open finalist withdrawing from Saturday’s event.

“Wes was one of the first people to phone me after the win to congratulate me, which means a lot after the distractions of Fraser’s birth yesterday,” said Nicholson.

“Wes has been an inspiration with his form over the last year and I’m hoping to follow him into the world’s top ten.

“After last Sunday I was obviously very tired and it had been a very challenging weekend at the UK Open, but I rehabilitated myself over the first couple of days of the week and came into this weekend with a little bit of energy.

“I don’t think I deserved to win every game today and I had a couple scraps, but came through it with wins and I’m really chuffed with myself.

“A lot of people say that when you start winning it’s a good habit to get into, and that’s what I’ve tried to do this year. When you get into some bad form it’s hard to get out of it, but this year has been a dream come true.

“I’ve worked really hard over Christmas and come back fighting. Every single game I’m in, whether I’m behind or in front, I’m still fighting to keep winning.

“I really want to get into the top ten and I feel that I let myself down after winning the Players Championship Finals lasy January, but this year I’m coming true on the floor.

“I’m starting to prove what I’m made of and I’m really happy with myself.”

Brown had won his place in the final in dramatic fashion in another tight semi-final, as he edged out Justin Pipe 6-5.

Pipe had trailed 3-0 and 4-1 before hitting back to force a decider with a 13-darter in leg ten, and opened the last leg with scores of 180, 100 and 140.

With Brown on 156, Pipe opted against throwing for the bull when on 81, hitting 18 to leave 32, but the Bristol ace powered home his huge finish to win through to the final.

That semi-final was one of four successive 6-5 wins for Brown, who also won in a decider against Michael Barnard, Terry Jenkins and Brian Woods, and had been preceded by a 6-4 win over Shaun Griffiths and a 6-1 defeat of Kevin Dowling in round one.

Pipe’s run to the semis saw him lose for the sixth time at that stage as he was cruelly denied a place in his first PDC ProTour final, but he picked up £2,000 for his day’s work.

Chisnall also claimed £2,000 and joins Pipe and Brown in strengthening their claims for a qualifying place in next month’s World Matchplay.

St Helens’ Chisnall twice missed double 12 for a nine-dart finish during the event, and also defeated three-time World Champion John Part,

In-form Robert Thornton reached the quarter-finals alongside King, Part and Brian Woods, who appeared in the last eight for the first time since winning a PDC ProTour Card in January.

The Players Championship was named in memory of the late PDC official Eddie Cox, who passed away in December 2008, with Sunday’s event being played in memory of another former PDC Players’ Marshal, Bobby Bourn.

Nicholson added: “Eddie was a fellow Geordie and I know he’s missed by so many people within darts, so it’s a big honour for me to win the event named in his memory.”

Eddie Cox Memorial Players Championship
First Round
Board One
Gary Anderson (1) Bye
Matt Clark 6-0 Ken MacNeil
Tony Eccles (32) 6-5 Nicky Bache
Ian White 6-0 Geoff Whitworth
James Wade (16) Bye
Nick Fullwell 6-5 Michael Rosenauer
Mervyn King (17) Bye
John Henderson 6-2 Devon Peterson
Paul Nicholson (8) Bye
Louis Blundell 6-0 Gary Mawson
Colin Osborne (25) 6-2 Mark Dudbridge
Peter Wright 6-1 Ian Jopling
Mark Webster (9) Bye
Michael van Gerwen 6-4 Kevin McDine
Wayne Jones (24) 6-0 Gary Eastwood
William O’Connor 6-1 Gary Welding
Mark Walsh (5) Bye
Mark Jones 6-4 Ashley Holgate
Mark Hylton (28) 6-1 Adam Hunt
Chris Thompson 6-3 Steve Evans
Denis Ovens (12) Bye
Antonio Alcinas 6-1 Matt Padgett
Magnus Caris 6-5 Steve Farmer (21)
Dave Chisnall 6-3 Wayne Atwood
Ronnie Baxter (4) Bye
Matthew Edgar 6-5 Reece Robinson
Roland Scholten 6-4 Jelle Klaasen (29)
Dave Smith 6-2 Mick Todd
John Part (13) Bye
Brendan Dolan 6-0 Mike Roberts
Kevin Painter (20) 6-3 Steve Grubb
James Richardson 6-5 Mark Frost
Simon Whitlock (2) Bye
Michael Barnard 6-3 Adam Smith-Neale
Steve Brown (31) 6-1 Kevin Dowling
Shaun Griffiths 6-2 Kirk Shepherd
Terry Jenkins (15) Bye
Simon Burt 6-4 Dylan Duo
Dennis Priestley (18) 6-0 Mareno Michels
Darren Johnson 6-4 Mark Lawrence
Colin Lloyd (7) Bye
Prakash Jiwa 6-5 Darren Whittingham
Brian Woods 6-5 Richie Burnett (26)
Michael Mansell 6-4 Nigel Heydon
Alan Tabern (10) Bye
Scott Rand 6-2 Joe Cullen
Andy Hamilton (23) 6-3 Andy Brown
Tony Ayres 6-5 Andy Hutchings
Vincent van der Voort (6) Bye
Robert Thornton 6-2 Michael Smith
Steve Beaton (27) 6-2 Matt Jackson
Shane O’Connor 6-1 Adrian Gray
Adrian Lewis (11) Bye
Chris Aubrey 6-3 John Walton
Steve Hine 6-4 Andy Smith (22)
Paul Rowley 6-4 Steven Pearson
Jamie Caven (3) Bye
Nigel Birch 6-1 Jon Archer
Dennis Smith (30) 6-4 Steve Maish
Peter Hudson 6-1 Peter Manley
Justin Pipe (14) Bye
Barrie Bates 6-4 Ryan Harrington
Co Stompe (19) 6-1 Adrian Bolitho
Wayne Mardle 6-4 Dave Ladley

Second Round
Gary Anderson 6-2 Matt Clark
Tony Eccles 6-1 Ian White
James Wade 6-0 Nick Fullwell
Meryvn King 6-5 John Henderson
Paul Nicholson 6-3 Louis Blundell
Peter Wright 6-4 Colin Osborne
Mark Webster 6-1 Michael van Gerwen
Wayne Jones 6-3 William O’Connor
Mark Walsh 6-1 Mark Jones
Mark Hylton 6-3 Chris Thompson
Denis Ovens 6-3 Antonio Alcinas
Dave Chisnall 6-3 Magnus Caris
Matthew Edgar 6-4 Ronnie Baxter
Roland Scholten 6-5 Dave Smith
John Part 6-4 Brendan Dolan
Kevin Painter 6-4 James Richardson
Michael Barnard 6-5 Simon Whitlock
Steve Brown 6-4 Shaun Griffiths
Terry Jenkins 6-5 Simon Burt
Darren Johnson 6-5 Dennis Priestley
Prakash Jiwa 6-5 Colin Lloyd
Brian Woods 6-4 Michael Mansell
Alan Tabern 6-3 Scott Rand
Tony Ayres 6-5 Andy Hamilton
Robert Thornton 6-3 Vincent van der Voort
Steve Beaton 6-2 Shane O’Connor
Chris Aubrey 6-5 Adrian Lewis
Steve Hine 6-1 Paul Rowley
Jamie Caven 6-2 Nigel Birch
Peter Hudson 6-5 Dennis Smith
Justin Pipe 6-4 Barrie Bates
Co Stompe 6-4 Wayne Mardle
Losers £200

Third Round
Gary Anderson 6-1 Tony Eccles
Mervyn King 6-5 James Wade
Paul Nicholson 6-5 Peter Wright
Mark Webster 6-2 Wayne Jones
Mark Walsh 6-4 Mark Hylton
Dave Chisnall 6-3 Denis Ovens
Roland Scholten 6-3 Matthew Edgar
John Part 6-3 Kevin Painter
Steve Brown 6-5 Michael Barnard
Terry Jenkins 6-2 Darren Johnson
Brian Woods 6-3 Prakash Jiwa
Alan Tabern 6-5 Tony Ayres
Robert Thornton 6-2 Steve Beaton
Steve Hine 6-1 Chris Aubrey
Peter Hudson 6-5 Jamie Caven
Justin Pipe 6-5 Co Stompe
Losers £400

Fourth Round
Mervyn King 6-5 Gary Anderson
Paul Nicholson 6-3 Mark Wesbter
Dave Chisnall 6-5 Mark Walsh
John Part 6-3 Roland Scholten
Steve Brown 6-5 Terry Jenkins
Brian Woods 6-1 Alan Tabern
Robert Thornton 6-2 Steve Hine
Justin Pipe 6-3 Peter Hudson
Losers £600

Quarter-Finals
Paul Nicholson 6-1 Mervyn King
Dave Chisnall 6-2 John Part
Steve Brown 6-5 Brian Woods
Justin Pipe 6-1 Robert Thornton
Losers £1,000

Semi-Finals
Paul Nicholson 6-5 Dave Chisnall
Steve Brown 6-5 Justin Pipe
Losers £2,000

Final
Paul Nicholson 6-4 Steve Brown
Winner £6,000
Runner-Up £3,000

Semi-Finals
Paul Nicholson completes amazing comeback in final leg, with Dave Chisnall missing double eight for a 124 finish (with Nicholson on 273) before missing four further match darts, and Nicholson returns to finish 76 in two darts.
There was more drama in the deciding leg of the other semi-final, when Justin Pipe hit scores of 180, 100 and 140 in the deciding leg after coming from 3-0 down against Steve Brown. With Brown on 156, Pipe opted against throwing at the bullseye and instead left 32, but Brown checked out 156 for victory and his second ProTour final in Barnsley of the year.

Final – Leg-by-leg
Paul Nicholson v Steve Brown
0-0 – Steve Brown wins the bull and will throw first
0-1 – Brown hits three ton-plus scores to leave 36 after 12, and despite a 180 from Nicholson – to leave two! – hits double 18 for a 13-dart opening leg.
1-1 – Nicholson opens with a 180, which is followed by scores of 100 and 140, before eventually winning the leg on double three.
2-1 – Nicholson breaks in 16 darts with double eight at the first time of asking.
2-2 – Brown breaks back immediately after Nicholson misses a dart at tops for a 75 finish, checking out 118 on the same bed.
2-3 – Nicholson opens with a 180, but after two further ton-plus scores misses the bull for an 85 finish and Brown follows up a 171 with double ten for a 14-dart leg.
3-3 – Both players leave a finish after nine darts, with Nicholson missing double eight for a 127 and Brown missing the bull for a 161 before the Geordie returns to hit double eight for a 13-darter.
4-3 – Nicholson breaks with a brilliant 13-darter, hitting a 165 score to leave double 18, as Brown missed the bull for a 164 finish.
5-3 – Nicholson misses double 16 and three darts at double eight to give Brown a glimmer, but needing 52 he misses two darts at tops to allow his opponent back to hit double eight.
5-4 – Brown is first to a finish and lands double four with his third dart to keep the match alive, as Nicholson waited on 52.
6-4 – Nicholson a first to a finish with the darts but misses two darts at tops for the game, but when Brown cannot finish 136 he returns to land double ten for the win.

Source – PDC/Lawrence Lustig

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