Jeremy Fagg collects event one and a nine darter as Brandon Weening wins his first full Pro Tour title
The Winmau Pro Tour kicked off at the Warilla Bowls and Recreation Club on Saturday with events one and two played out in the chase to be crowned Australian number one for 2023. Jeremy Fagg took out the first event of the year and a nine darter in the second event, and the Weening name was the winner in event two, as Brandon Weening won event number two,
In event one 90 players participated and when it came down to the last eight GG Mathers defeated Mick Lacey in the first quarter final 5-3 in an all Queensland affair. The second all Queensland quarter was closer as Peter Willmott edged out veteran Bill Aitken 5-4. A third Queenslander, in Jeremy Fagg, also made the semi finals as he defeated Brandon Weening 5-2. The final position went to the Friday night winner, Mal Cuming, as he defeated Mitchell Clegg in a battle of two former PDC World Championship players.
The first semi final was a competitive match with Jeremy Fagg breaking the Cuming throw straight away before holding throw. Cuming then secured two legs on the trot before Fagg broke the Cuming throw for a second time in the fifth leg. Both players then held throw for the rest of the match and sixth Cuming unable to check out 28 in the eighth leg Fagg got the 8 required to move into the final with a 5-3 win.
The second final was a clearer affair with GG Mathers defeating Willmott 5-1, Mathers winning five consecutive legs after his opponent took out the first on throw.
The final saw Jeremy Fagg take the opening leg despite taking a few visits to clear 60. He then broke the Mathers throw with a 56 checkout in 14 darts. Mathers struck back with a break of his own and then held throw to move the match back to Parity. Fagg then held throw to return to the lead before he broke the Mathers throw in 14 darts to double his lead. 14 darts later and Fagg had won the first Winmau Pro Tour event of 2023.
Fagg was delighted with the win, “It is great to be back on the road playing darts once more. This is a great field of players but I was in the zone this morning and played well. I have taken on board my experiences over the last couple of years, including the 2023 Q School, and my game continues to improve. It is great to win the first event of the Winmau Pro Tour this year, especially against such a great player as GG.”
The afternoon event was also knockout and 82 players went in the draw. On a remarkable run Fagg then threw a nine darter against Trevor Cooke, his first nine darter in major competition. Fagg threw 180, 177 and 144 to collect the first nine darter in DPA competition for a long time. He went on to win the at match but his run would be stopped by Englishman Darren Penhall.
Mitchell Clegg improved on his position in event one by winning his second quarter final of the day, 5-2, over Penhall. Another New South Welshman had less luck as Dave Marland was eliminated by Brandon Weening, who also won his first quarter final of the day at the second attempt, 5-1. After two all Queensland quarter finals in event one, event two saw only one as Bill Aitken edged out GG Mathers 5-4 in their clash. The final affair saw Team Rebel stablemates Rhys Mathewson and Mal Cuming go head to head and in another tight affair it was Mathewson who won the ninth leg to win 5-4 and take his place in the semi finals.
That first semi final saw Mathewson only collect the fourth leg as Aitken collected the win in an affair both players knew they could improve upon, however it was only Aitken who would get that chance in the final. His opponent looked to be Weening as he took a 3-1 lead before a 70 check out moved Clegg back within a leg of his Victorian opponent. Weening then won the next leg to move a leg away from the final. A Maximum against the throw and visits of 96 and 125 had Weening within touching distance of the final but he left ten when chasing a 100 checkout to give his opponent a chance in the leg. Clegg could not take it and on his return to the oche Weening threw double five with his next dart to give him a spot in the final, the final score 5-2.
The final saw Weening open with visits of 100, 96 and 139 on throw but a 140 put his opponent within touching distance (leaving tops.) Weening held his nerve to take the opening leg. Both players struggled in the next leg but visits of 97 and 140 left Aitken needing 170 for the leg. 134 left him requiring 36 which he collected with his 16th dart. Aitken then broke the Weening throw to lead 2-1 and Aitken then double the lead, his mid leg strength overcoming another slow start on throw. Weening then held throw to move the match to 3-2. Both players started the next leg with triple figures but it was Weening who made the most of it with a maximum on the back of his start. Another 125 left him needing 96 against the Aitken throw and he collected it on this next visit to tie the match back after six legs. Neither player started the next leg well but it was Weening who got to a check out first, a 145 leaving him needing 45 and two darts later he was back in front for the first time in the match since the very first leg. Weening took an early lead against the Aitken throw but a 140 gave Aitken a chance to lengthen the match. Weening had thrown 12 to leave 86 and got a chance as Aitken left 68. The bull gave Weening the match, 5-3, and his first full Pro Tour event title.
“I am delighted with my progress over the last year. This was a tough field today and to come through was hard. To overcome the experience of Bill Aitken in the final shows my mindset continues to improve. Winning event two on the Winmau Pro Tour is a real honour” Weening said after his victory.