By Phil Lanning
DIRK van Duijvenbode won his first-ever PDC title and then revealed he thought it would never happen.
The wacky aubergine farmer beat Martijn Kleermaker 8-6 in the final of Players Championship 11 in Niedernhausen.
The Dutchman enjoyed a remarkable rise up the PDC rankings in 2020, including reaching his first televised final at the World Grand Prix and the quarters of the World Championships.
But DVD admitted it’s a big relief to finally get over the line, saying: “How good is it? You can’t imagine. In the youth I played four of five finals, one match I missed eight darts to win the title.
“I always thought it’s easier to win it in the youth than in the mens. So I thought I would never win a title. Now I won it. Happy days man!
“I don’t think I played my best game and I still won it. I don’t think about titles, I always think about playing well because that puts you up the rankings. You want to compete with the top guys. Sometimes you have to win on a bad day.
“I was in great form in the last two series and I thought I’d win the tournament and I didn’t.
“I made three quarter-finals in eight events and this week I didn’t play well at all. In the other tournaments when I felt I played normal I wasn’t under a 98 average. The last two days my highest average was 95. So I went in today thinking hopefully I win the first round.
“Yet the other eight events I thought I’d win it. When I didn’t play well I did win it. Happy days.”
It was a tense all-Dutch final affair with the pair locked at 6-6 before Van Duijvenbode pulled clear for victory. He added: “We were both nervous. When I thought I could finish it, I was more nervous than him, and then when he needed to stay in it he was more nervous.”
Robert Thornton had another excellent run, finally going out to former World Champ Scott Mitchell in the last 16.
It was another disappointing day for Michael van Gerwen as he failed to make it past the Last 64 stage for a third day running.
Raymond van Barneveld also withdrew from the tournament on medical grounds and will be replaced in Players Championship 12 by Jeroen Mioch.
Images by Taylor Lanning.