James Hurrell and Deta Hedman emerged victorious at the 2022 Scottish Open, the first senior WDF darts event to be played in Scotland since the start of the pandemic, booking guaranteed spots at the 2023 WDF World Championships in the process. Andrew Sinclair recaps the action.
James Hurrell was statistically the form player of the weekend in Renfrew and backed the numbers up by coming through the 453-man field and defeating Ryan Murray 6-5 in the final to claim the Gold-graded Scottish Open title.
England captain Hurrell started the match with back-to-back 140s and scored well throughout but double trouble affected both players in what was a nervy final.
A 16-dart break of throw in the fourth leg helped the 2022 WDF World Championship quarter-finalist build a 3-1 advantage but Murray, who finished the match with four maximums, fired back immediately and restored parity at 3-3.
After throwing a match-high 110 finish to level things at 4-4, Murray broke again to take a lead for the first time in the final and give himself a chance to throw for the title.
‘Muzz Lightyear’ had a shot at the bull in the 10th leg for a 135 finish to become the first Scottish winner of the event in five years. He wired that, though, and Hurrell punished him, taking out 84 in two to break back and take the match all the way.
Murray had further chances in the decider, missing double 12 to take out 95 and then squandering three darts at double six in his next visit. Hurrell missed his first two match darts but made no mistake the third time, pinning double four to seal his sixth career ranking title and a fourth World Championship appearance in the process.
To tell the truth, Hurrell, who is now WDF World No.1 once again, had looked in title-winning form throughout the weekend. After starting the event with two steady victories, ‘Hillbilly’ went on to produce four of the tournament’s top five averages in the point-scoring rounds as he marched through to the final.
He crossed the 100 average mark three times in all, Jack McNeilly, Neil MacDougall and Jim McEwan on the receiving end of his blistering form. The performance against McEwan was particularly impressive, Hurrell winning four legs in 56 darts after initially going 2-0 down. His other average in the top five came in the Last 16 when he beat Wales’ Mark Blandford 4-0 with a 98.56.
James Beeton provided his toughest test prior to the final in the last four, going 3-1 and 4-3 up before Hurrell rallied to seal victory 5-4 with two 180s in the last two legs.
Murray, meanwhile, had come through a tough slate of opponents to reach his maiden WDF ranking final. Among those to come unstuck against the former PDC Tour Card holder were two-time World Youth Master Shaun Griffiths, ‘Dynamite’ Darren Johnson, 2021 Irish Open finalist Barry Copeland, England international Aaron Monk and former Wales international Jamie Lewis.
Neil Duff, the new World Champion, started the weekend strongly before going down in the Last 32 to Terry Roach.
Deta Hedman recovered from her recent Lakeside disappointment in style to beat Jo Clements 5-4 and win the Scottish Open for the sixth time in her illustrious career.
Hedman struggled to find her scoring range in the early going, Clements capitalising by breaking in the third as she went 3-1 up.
The WDF World No.1 responded, though, winning the next three legs to go 4-3 up and move within one of victory.
Clements had missed darts to go 4-2 up but made no mistake in the eighth, taking out 40 in three darts to draw level. The two were neck-and-neck after nine darts in the deciding leg but Clements’ subsequent visits of 30, 45 and 57 were punished by Hedman, who sealed victory on double eight with her fourth match dart.
The battling qualities that Hedman displayed throughout the final were also on display in the quarter-finals when ‘The Heart of Darts’ came from 3-1 down to dump out the defending champion Aileen de Graaf 4-3.
Outside of that game and the final, Hedman dropped just one other leg all weekend, which was in stark contrast to the battles Slovak Open champion Clements had gone through to reach the title decider.
World Champion Beau Greaves was unbeaten in 18 WDF ranking matches before her quarter-final meeting with Clements and looked set to make it 19 when she raced into a 3-0 lead. She missed a slew of match darts though and Clements was able to capitalise, winning four consecutive legs to advance to the last four.
It was a similar story for her in the next round as she went 2-0 down and had to survive multiple match darts before pipping Lakeside runner-up Kirsty Hutchinson in a last-leg decider.
Players will have two more opportunities to join Dave Prins, Neil Duff, Beau Greaves, James Hurrell and Hedman in qualifying automatically for the 2023 WDF World Championships over the next two weekends with two more Gold-ranked events scheduled.
The first will be the ever-popular Denmark Open, which takes place in Esbjerg on Saturday, April 30th, with the tour then heading to Prestatyn the following weekend for the Welsh Open.
Photo Credit: Scottish Darts Association