By James Vukmirovic
A thrilling comeback with two 170 checkouts by Simon Whitlock over Gerwyn Price was the highlight of the third night of the 2018 bwin Grand Slam of Darts.
Whitlock was 4-1 down against Gerwyn Price in the best of 9 legs match, but won four legs in a row, to win 5-4 and secure his place in the Round of 16.
Whitlock was relieved to get the win and continue on in the tournament.
He said: “I feel amazing, top of the world and happy to get through in this tournament, which is a rarity for me as I don’t usually do too well in this one.
“I just got to a stage in the game where I thought “You have to win this game. Just let them fly and relax and stay focused” and, suddenly, the game turned.”
He added: “I’ll just take it one game at a time and, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking I can win, especially if I can keep producing 108 averages. Might not happen again, but it’s something to work towards.”
His place in the next round was at the expense of BDO World Champion Glen Durrant who missed out on legs difference after losing 5-4 to Andrew Gilding, despite coming back from 4-2 down to force a deciding leg. Gilding, who overcame four missed darts at a finish during the match, also went out having lost his first two matches.
The tournament is competed for by players from the Professional Darts Corporation and the British Darts Organisation and is at Aldersley Leisure Village for the first time while the Civic Hall is undergoing repairs, having been played in Wolverhampton since 2007.
PDC World Champion Rob Cross started off the evening with a routine 5 legs to 2 win over Ryan Searle to top Group H, with Dimitri Van den Burgh joining him after winning 5-1 against Mark McGeeney in the last match of the evening.
In the matches played in Groups E and G, Peter Wright underperformed, but did enough to win 5-4 against Josh Payne, who also qualified with Wright.
Group G saw fan favourite Mensur Suljovic lose against Martin Schindler, but still qualify after Stephen Bunting thrashed Scott Mitchell 5-1.
Bunting was pleased with his performance and topping his group.
He said: “I was really happy with my performance. It was a tough group, probably one of the toughest groups, so there was a lot of pressure, but I was really happy to get through.
“I believe I’m reaching a good level of consistency. I don’t know what the average was tonight and I felt a bit tired but, the last two games, I felt fantastic and still playing consistently well.”
The Round of 16 matches, to be played on 14 November, are:
Peter Wright vs Simon Whitlock
Gerwyn Price vs Josh Payne
Stephen Bunting vs Dimitri Van den Burgh
Rob Cross vs Mensur Suljovic