Considering his status as one of only four players who have won both versions of the world title, John Part might have raised his eyebrows at his pre-tournament odds of 33-1 to win the Ladbrokes.com PDC World Championship at Alexandra Palace. The 41-year-old Canadian has always been a man for the big occasion and he proved it again last night with a convincing 6-2 semi-final victory over Kevin Painter.
If it was a match that never hit the heights, Part's consistency was admirable. The world No 11 seemed to find his form at the right moment, even though Painter's statistics were better in almost every respect. Part had the higher three-dart average (92.84 compared to 91.94), but Painter had a better success rate on doubles (44 per cent to 43) and hit more maximums (five to four) and more 100-plus scores (77 to 71).
Part won the British Darts Organisation's world crown in 1994 and beat Phil Taylor to take the Professional Darts Corporation's title nine years later. Wayne Mardle, who knocked out Taylor on Saturday night, was meeting Kirk Shepherd, a 21-year-old qualifier from Ramsgate, in last night's second semi-final.
Painter, who lost the 2004 final to Taylor, had beaten Raymond van Barneveld, the defending champion, on his way to the last four, but rarely found his best form against Part. Despite regularly slowing the game down, Painter never looked confident when it really mattered. From the moment he threw just 45 with his first three darts, the world No 15 seemed below his best.
The first set established a pattern. Painter levelled at 2-2 after losing the first two legs, but Part's 86 check-out took the decider. The second set followed a similar path and even though Painter won the third 3-0, Part quickly resumed control, taking the next three sets to lead 5-1. Again his form on the doubles was crucial as he took the fourth and sixth sets with 13 and 12-dart finishes respectively.
Painter's flame flickered briefly again when he took the seventh leg 3-0, but Part was not to be denied and finished the match in style, hitting two treble 20s and double five to complete a 130 check-out.
"It was a tough match all the way through," Part said afterwards. "There's a lot of respect between the two of us. I think we were both very tight, but I probably hit more important darts than he did."