Darts: Webster holds steady to claim world crown

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The Independent Online

The top seed Mark Webster held off a fightback from Australia's Simon Whitlock to claim his first BDO World Championship title in thrilling style last night.

The Welshman was pegged back after a making a blistering start in the final at Frimley Green but kept his nerve to triumph 7-5 and underline his status as world No 1.

Left-hander Webster, who beat last year's winner Martin Adams in his semi-final on Saturday, raced into a 3-0 lead but then switched off as the unseeded Whitlock comfortably took the next two sets. Webster, 24, recovered to take a 4-2 lead into the interval but Whitlock refused to throw in the towel and took two of the next three sets.

Webster put himself within sight of victory by taking the 10th, but Whitlock again kept him sweating by convincingly rattling off the 11th set 3-0. That reduced the arrears to 6-5, but Webster showed no sign of nerves to take the next leg at a canter with just 11 darts.

The tension rose as Whitlock pulled back another leg but Webster eked out the next two legs to clinch the title in style.

Webster, who collected a cheque for £85,000 for his Lakeside success, said: "I can't believe it. I lost in the first round last year, if I'd lost in the first round again it starts to get into your head. I thought I was pretty steady all week and I'm really pleased."

Webster also paid tribute to his opponent, the hirsute Whitlock, who enjoyed an unlikely run to the final and earned £30,000 as runner-up. Webster said: "He is awesome, his counting was awesome. It was a brilliant game, I enjoyed it.

"That is the biggest game I have played in and I was bound to get nervous. I did not expect Simon to let me run away with it. What he did in the match was what I expected from him. He played brilliant, he is a top man.

"I didn't smile on stage but I think that was the adrenaline, I did enjoy myself up, you have to because it might be your only chance to take part in the world championship. I am really made up.

"The Welsh support this week has been great. The lads who have supported me are a good bunch. I've got a day off tomorrow and then it's back into college to continue my plumbing course on Tuesday."

Whitlock had thrashed England's Ted Hankey, the 2000 BDO world champion, 5-0 in the quarter-finals to set up a last-four meeting with Brian Woods. The Australian continued his good form in that match, seeing off the Englishman 6-4 to set up last night's final against the No 1 seed.

The defeated finalist said: "I enjoyed it, I gave it my best shot and that's all I could do. I never gave up, I had chances but did not take them. It was probably my best game in a tournament. I will be back next year – to win it!"