John Henderson and Dom Taylor claimed titles on an action-packed day of Winmau Challenge Tour action in Wigan on Saturday.

The fifth and final weekend of 2023 Challenge Tour action began with a double-header at the Robin Park Tennis Centre, with Henderson and Taylor claiming the spoils in Events 20 and 21 respectively.

Henderson performed superbly to clinch his second Challenge Tour title of 2023 in Saturday’s opening event, registering ton-plus averages in early wins over Kurt Parry and Marcel Walpen.

After overcoming Ireland’s Shane McGuirk in round three, Henderson later won through a trio of deciding-leg ties to set up a clash against German star Lukas Wenig in the Event 20 showpiece.

The Scot denied former Lakeside Champion Jelle Klaasen in the last 16, before rallying from 4-1 down to topple Reece Robinson in the last eight, following up a 110 skin-saver with consecutive 16-darters to triumph.

Henderson then edged out former UK Open semi-finalist Alan Norris in a dramatic last four clash, converting back-to-back 109 finishes to cap off another comeback victory.

The former World Cup winner was also forced to recover from 3-2 down against Wenig, producing a brace of 12-darters and winning the last three legs without reply to scoop the £2,500 top prize.

Wenig had whitewashed Cam Crabtree with a 105 average in the quarter-finals, and a five-leg blitz of Alexander Merkx saw him progress to his second Challenge Tour final of the campaign.

Later in the day, it was Taylor who rounded off Saturday’s action with a maiden Challenge Tour success, having tasted victory on the Development Tour back in 2021.

The 25-year-old dispatched Crabtree 5-2 in the Event 21 decider, following up a terrific 128 finish in the penultimate leg with a 14-dart hold to close out a comprehensive victory.

Taylor, a Players Championship semi-finalist on the PDC ProTour last weekend, opened his challenge with a whitewash win against Max Baulcomb, before edging out Darren Brown in a scrappy nine-leg affair.

Taylor then followed up a thumping win over Poland’s Sebastian Bialecki by brushing aside Henry Coates and Joe Croft to book a last eight showdown against France’s World Cup star Thibault Tricole.

The Englishman won through a hard-fought tie which saw all nine legs go with throw, which he backed up with a 5-2 rout of Scotland’s Scott Campbell in the semi-finals.

Crabtree was unable to make it a hat-trick of Challenge Tour titles in 2023, although his run to the final saw him overhaul Henderson and move into second position on the Challenge Tour Order of Merit.

The 20-year-old averaged 99 to sweep aside Thomas Cromwell in round four, and after dumping out Event 20 finalist Wenig in the last 16, he battled past Owen Bates in the semi-finals to pocket the £1,000 runner-up prize.

Crabtree now leads John Henderson by just £25 on the Order of Merit with three events remaining, although Berry van Peer still boasts a commanding £4,725 lead at the top of the rankings.

Van Peer is now guaranteed to finish inside the top two on the final Challenge Tour Order of Merit, and has therefore secured a PDC Tour Card for 2024/25 while also qualifying for December’s Paddy Power World Darts Championship

The Dutchman is also poised to seal his place at next month’s Mr Vegas Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton, with the winner of the 2023 Challenge Tour Order of Merit assured of a place in the 32-player field.

2023 PDC Winmau Challenge Tour
Saturday October 29, Robin Park Tennis Centre, Wigan
Event 20
Quarter-Finals
Alexander Merkx 5-4 Callum Francis
Lukas Wenig 5-0 Cam Crabtree
Alan Norris 5-1 Patrick Lynskey
John Henderson 5-4 Reece Robinson

Semi-Finals
Lukas Wenig 5-0 Alexander Merkx
John Henderson 5-4 Alan Norris

Final
John Henderson 5-3 Lukas Wenig

Event 21
Quarter-Finals
Scott Campbell 5-3 Andy Jenkins
Dom Taylor 5-4 Thibault Tricole
Cam Crabtree 5-3 Neil Parry
Owen Bates 5-4 Dragutin Horvat

Semi-Finals
Dom Taylor 5-2 Scott Campbell
Cam Crabtree 5-4 Owen Bates

Final
Dom Taylor 5-2 Cam Crabtree

SOURCE-PDC

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