KEVIN PAINTER won the first major title of his career with a brilliant 13-9 defeat of Mark Webster in the Cash Converters Players Championship final at the Doncaster Dome last night.
Painter, the 2004 World Championship runner-up when he lost to Phil Taylor in a sudden-death leg, finally held aloft major silverware by claiming the £60,000 title.
The 44-year-old had stared defeat in the face in his semi-final, coming from 9-6 against newcomer Scott Rand down to win 10-9, but turned on the style in the final with nine 180s and three ton-plus finishes.
“It’s incredible,” said Painter.
“It’s been a long time coming for me and a lot of people kept saying that I’d missed my chance to win a major in the 2004 World Championship, but this shows them that I hadn’t.
“I’ve always believed that I can do this and you have to stick with it because anything can happen in this sport.
“I’ve come good when it mattered in the semi-finals and final and it came together at the right time.”
A boisterous Dome crowd had earlier in the evening seen Painter win a thrilling semi-final with Coventry newcomer Rand, who was the width of a wire from winning a place in his first major final inside two years as a professional.
The lorry driver, who knocked out Raymond van Barneveld and James Wade during the event, led 9-6 but saw his only two darts for victory, at double 16, land agonisingly on the wrong side of the wire as Painter won four successive legs.
“The crowd were fantastic and they gave me great support, and it’s a very special moment,” said Painter.
“I got some fluency in my game in the semis and final and I thought I played well in the final.
“I’ve been playing alright and it wasn’t beyond me to win a tournament but everything has to come together to win a tournament and it did for me.”