Raymond Barneveld won his first Winmau World Masters title by overcoming the emerging Finnish player Jarkko Komula in the first all-overseas final of the event at Frimley Green yesterday.
The Dutchman, who won the Embassy World Champion ship in 1998 and 1999, triumphed 4-2 to indicate he will be one the favourite's in his efforts to regain the sport's most prestigious crown on the same Lakeside Country Club stage next month.
Earlier, in the last four, Barneveld and Komula had beaten Richie Burnett, of Wales, and England's Andy Fordham respectively. That left Britain without a finalist for the first time since the competition began in 1974.
Komula, who has risen into the world's top 16 this year, also included the reigning Masters and Embassy champion, John Walton, among his victims and trounced the much-fancied Fordham 4-0 to go one stage further than in 2000. But the 25-year-old, who makes a 1,000-mile round trip every weekend from his home near the Arctic Circle just to practise darts, had no answer to Barneveld in the showdown for the £8,000 first prize.
Barneveld, a former postman, was much more accurate on the doubles than his opponent and closed out the match against the darts to end his title drought. "I needed to win so badly," Barneveld said. "I've been struggling for the last two years – but I'm back in form now. This was the only major title I was missing, and I really wanted to win it because it's the biggest one after the Embassy. I feel like the happiest man in the world."
Barneveld praised Komula and earmarked him as a leading contender for the World Championship. "Jarkko is an amazing player," said Barneveld. "I've followed his progress for years. He is very concentrated, never speaks on stage and just focuses on the treble. The standard of darts in Finland is very high now."
Barneveld will now be a warm order for the World Championships but will have to beat the crowd's favourite if he is to progress past the first round. Bobby George has qualified for a record-equalling 16th championship appearance and is first up for Barneveld.
EMBASSY WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP (Frimley Green, 3-15 January): First-round draw: T O'Shea (Eng) v C Monk (Eng); J Walton (Eng) v A Fordham (Eng); S Nagy (Swe) v G Anderson (Sco); W Mardle (Eng) v D Richardson (Eng); A Welge (Ger) v E Clarys (Bel); R Barneveld (Neths) v B George (Eng); M Suljovic (Aut) v V van der Voort (Neths); M King (Eng) v R Stewart (Aus); M Korhonen (Swe) v S Coote; M Adams (Eng) v P Johnstone (Scot); T Eccles (Eng) v W Jones (Eng); T Hankey (Eng) v J Komula (Fin); C Stompe (Neths) v M Veitch (Scot); B Taylor (Sco) v J Ferrell (Eng); R Davies (Wal) v T David (Aus); M Pusa (Fin) v M Clark (Eng).Reuse content