Wizard hits nine-darter but just misses out on title

Simon Whitlock enjoys his nine-darter against Andy Hamilton   Picture: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Simon Whitlock enjoys his nine-darter against Andy Hamilton Picture: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
From left: Pairs winners Lee Smith and Les Rance, with runners-up Darren Barnes and Darrell Manchip

Portsmouth individuals final is a Barnes-stormer

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Simon Whitlock fell just short in his bid to become PDC Premier League champion – despite throwing a nine-dart finish.

The Waterlooville-based Aussie battled his way to the final of the prestigious event at a packed 02 Arena in London last night.

Whitlock saw off Andy Hamilton in the last four after an 8-6 victory, which included a much-coveted nine-darter in the second leg.

But, despite a plucky fight back in the final, the player known as the Wizard went down to a 10-7 defeat to Phil Taylor.

Whitlock, who qualified for last night’s play-offs after 14 league matches of the regular season, looked like he was going to be on the wrong end of a pasting when he trailed Taylor 7-2 in the first-to-10-leg final.

But the 43-year-old stormed back in style to level at 7-7 and rock the 13-time world champion.

Whitlock then missed double 16 to go 8-7 ahead.

And that proved costly for the man who now calls Waterlooville his home as Taylor showed why he’s the greatest darts player of all time by closing out the match to take the crown, which is regarded as the sport’s second-biggest prize behind the World Championship.

Whitlock said: ‘It’s a bit disappointing to lose but I’ve had a fantastic Premier League and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.’