Willard Bruguier enjoyed a dream big-stage debut as he snatched victory in the North American Championship final against Dave Richardson, and with it a place in the William Hill World Darts Championship.
The South Dakota-based police officer had won through Tuesday’s qualifiers in Las Vegas to secure a spot in the $25,000 North American Championship.
The 35-year-old made a nerveless transition onto the televised stage as he defeated Ohio’s Dennis “DJ” Sayre 6-3 in the quarter-finals and then Canadian youngster Dawson Murschell by the same scoreline in the semi-finals.
Bruguier then came from 3-1 and 4-2 down in the final against Canada’s Richardson to claim the $10,000 first prize as well as a place in the William Hill World Darts Championship later this year.
“I can’t believe it, I’m ecstatic,” Bruguier said. “This was the goal and I’m happy to have achieved it.
“Dawson and Dave were both hitting their doubles in the first half and then the break came, and thankfully I started picking up and hitting doubles after the break.
“There was a time in the first qualifier where Shawn Brenneman knocked me out and it made me refocus. I put a lot of practice time in after that. To play the way I performed on stage I’m very happy.
“I cannot thank the PDC enough for coming over here, and Fox Sports and everybody else who had a hand in this, it’s absolutely amazing.
“I can’t wait for the World Championship, I’ve got no idea what to expect but I’m looking forward to it.”
Scottish-born Richardson made the stronger start in the final, winning the opening two legs and recovering from a miss in the third to land a 180 which left double 18 for a 13-darter in leg four.
He then responded to an 89 finish from Bruguier in leg five by taking out double four to lead 4-2, but a miss at the bullseye in the seventh leg gave Bruguier his chance.
The newcomer took out double 16 to hit back, 80 to level and then landed tops to lead for the first time at 5-4.
Richardson showed his quality by landing a 180 and double 10 to force a decider as the pair entered a one-leg shootout for the title, but Bruguier opened with two 140s and a 123, before taking out 98 for a 12-darter to claim glory.
All eight North American players now progress to take on eight of the world’s leading players in the two-day US Darts Masters, which begins on Friday at the Tropicana Las Vegas.
2017 North American Championship
Thursday July 13
Chris White 6-1 Jayson Barlow
Dave Richardson 6-1 Shawn Brenneman
Willard Bruguier 6-3 Dennis Sayre
Dawson Murschell 6-5 David Cameron
Dave Richardson 6-1 Chris White
Willard Bruguier 6-3 Dawson Murschell
Willard Bruguier 6-5 Dave Richardson