ANDY Smith overcame a slow start to reach the fourth round of Sunday’s PDC Players Championship event at the NIA Community Hall in Birmingham.
The Pie Man’s weekend got off to a disappointing start when he was beaten 6-4 in the first round of Saturday’s event by the recently crowned World Youth Champion James Hubbard.
His first round opponent on Sunday was Wales’ Gareth Pass and Studley thrower Smith was made to work incredibly hard to secure his place in round two.
The first six legs went with throw before Pass secured a break in leg seven to gain the initiative. Smith showed his class to break straight back before the next two legs were shared to set up an 11th leg decider.
Throwing first, Smith had the advantage and looked well set when leaving 56 with his opponent on 156. Pass almost produced a stunning checkout though after hitting two treble 20s, only to just miss double 18 and allow Smith to checkout in two darts and set up a clash with Sam Hill.
He enjoyed a more comfortable 6-3 victory on that occasion which meant a board final against three-time World Champion John Part in round three.
Smith, throwing first for the third game in a row, started brilliantly to open up a 4-0 lead before Part hit back to close the gap to one.
World number 20 Smith won the eighth leg to go within one of victory which he sealed two legs later as his form continued to improve.
Australian star Simon Whitlock lay next in wait and a thrilling fourth round clash followed.
Smith lost the throw for the first time on the day and looked in big trouble when 4-1 behind.
He fought back brilliantly though to lead 5-4 against the world number six, giving him the throw in the tenth leg for the match. The closest he came to victory though was a shot at a 101 checkout on which he failed to get a go at the double and Whitlock, who went on to reach the final, pounced to level at 5-5 before winning the decider.
Smith picked up £600 in prize money for his efforts and is back in action today (Friday) in the second European Tour Event of the season, the German Darts Championship in Berlin.
His first round opponent is Newark’s Mick Todd and if he comes through that, he will tackle either Justin Pipe or Sunday’s Players Championship winner Michael van Gerwen in the second round on Saturday night.
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