St Leonards ace triumphs in Ireland

Rob Cross was victorious in Players Championship 19. Picture courtesy Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Rob Cross was victorious in Players Championship 19. Picture courtesy Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Rob Cross continued his incredible debut year on the Professional Darts Corporation pro tour with a tournament victory in Ireland.

The 27-year-old, who lives in St Leonards, beat four of the world’s top 10 ranked players to win Players Championship 19 at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin yesterday (Friday).

Cross, who is already up to 38th and rising on the PDC order of merit, started the day with a convincing 6-1 victory over five-time world champion and eighth-ranked Raymond van Barneveld.

This was followed by a 6-2 victory over 59th-ranked Dave Pallett and a 6-3 win against 30th-ranked Justin Pipe.

Cross’s toughest test came in the last 16 as he survived missed match darts to squeeze past seven-time TV winner James Wade, ranked 10th, 6-5 in a deciding leg.

A thumping 6-0 victory over 29th-ranked Vincent van der Voort - who beat world number one Michael van Gerwen earlier in the day - was to follow before he averaged over 109 and landed a 167 checkout to beat seventh-ranked Mensur Suljovic 6-1 in the semi-finals.

Cross, a former electrician who now goes by the nickname of Voltage, secured his third PDC title of 2017 in style with a 6-2 victory over third-ranked Peter Wright in the final.

After breaking in the opening leg, Wright opened up a two-leg advantage. This merely ignited something in Cross as he began to play some of his finest darts to quickly find a foothold in the final.

Three 12-dart legs in succession, with finishes of 81, 87 and 81, put Cross into the lead and he never looked back.

A 13-darter followed to break once more for a 4-2 lead before he landed double 18 in the eighth leg to seal a dominant victory.

“At the start of the day I was under-achieving and got a bit lucky against James Wade. After that, I woke up and started to play like I can,” said Cross.

“I have a lot to learn when it comes to the TV tournaments, but I am getting to the point when I am playing my best game on the game board now, not just in the practice room. I think I can get better.”

Cross admitted that this unprecedented debut year - which also includes victories in Players Championship 3 and 12, plus reaching the HappyBet German Darts Grand Prix final - has come as a shock even to himself.

“At the beginning of the year, all I aimed to do was make the top 64 in the world,” he said.

“Nobody could predict, not even me, the way this year has gone. I am now going from strength to strength and I know I can get better. If I keep doing that, then I know I can be in for a shout of winning anything.”

Players Championship 20 will take place today, followed by the Unibet World Grand Prix from October 1-7.