By Alex Moss
15 MAY 2017 • 4:58PM
Michael Smith won his first PDC title for almost two years as he defeated Mensur Suljovic 6-4 in the final of the Gibraltar Darts Trophy last night.
The former PDC World Youth champion, who was playing in his first final since the Austrian Darts Open in June last year, claimed the £25,000 top prize as he won his fourth European Tour title, following up previous wins in 2014 and 2015.
The 26-year-old averaged 96.33 and hit 50 per cent of his double attempts to overcome Austria’s Suljovic at the Victoria Stadium.
Aided by a 108 checkout, Smith stormed into a 3-0 lead to take immediate control of the best of 11 leg final.
Suljovic, a winner on the European Tour last year, produced a spirited fightback to break Smith’s throw twice and level the match, before holding his throw to take a 4-3 lead.
St Helens ace Smith then took out 81 on double 12 to level the contest at 4-4, before winning a crucial ninth leg.
With Suljovic left requiring 56 to hold throw and move to within a leg of the title, Smith landed a superb 132 checkout on the bullseye to break the throw and edge 5-4 in front.
A miss at tops for the title in the next leg from Smith allowed his opponent a dart at double 15 to send the final into a decider.
Suljovic’s effort went just inside the wire, allowing Smith to step in and seal the victory on double 10 and secure his first PDC title since winning the European Darts Trophy back in September 2015.
“It’s a great feeling – I’m so chuffed,” Smith said. “I’d forgotten what it feels like to win a tournament and it feels like I’ve just won my very first tournament again.
“This year I’ve made two finals and I thought I was going to blow it again.
“The 132 to go 5-4 up won me the game, it was absolutely huge. I didn’t fancy the game going five-all because Mensur is amazing.”
Smith had to work hard to book his place in the final, coming through deciders in each of his previous four matches in the tournament, starting with Saturday’s 6-5 defeat of Christian Kist.
Sunday’s challenge began with a hard-fought win over Dimitri van den Bergh, with Smith hitting a key 180 in the deciding leg on his way to a 14-darter to seal a quarter-final spot.
In-form Rob Cross was his opponent in the last eight, where Smith once again required a last-leg maximum to give him the chance to take out 81 for a spot in the semi-finals.
World number three Peter Wright – a winner of three of the four European Tour events held so far in 2017 – was Smith’s opponent in the semi-finals.
Yet again he needed a deciding leg to come through, and as with the previous two matches the world number 11 hit a 180 to put himself in control of the final leg before eventually landing double 10 for the win.
2017 Gibraltar Darts Trophy
Sunday May 14
Peter Wright 6-0 Stephen Bunting
Darren Johnson 6-3 Alan Norris
Michael Smith 6-5 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Rob Cross 6-2 Dave Chisnall
Mensur Suljovic 6-3 Cristo Reyes
Magnus Caris 6-2 Benito van de Pas
James Wilson 6-3 Ian White
Daryl Gurney 6-4 Simon Whitlock
Peter Wright 6-5 Darren Johnson
Michael Smith 6-5 Rob Cross
Mensur Suljovic 6-3 Magnus Caris
Daryl Gurney 6-3 James Wilson
Michael Smith 6-5 Peter Wright
Mensur Suljovic 6-5 Daryl Gurney
Michael Smith 6-4 Mensur Suljovic
Picture: PDC Europe