Raymond van Barneveld clinched his first major title in over five years when he defeated Michael van Gerwen in a thrilling final at the William Hill Grand Slam of Darts.
The popular Dutchman, saw off his in form compatriot with a 16-14 victory in Wolverhampton to claim the £100,000 first prize.
‘Barney’ broke van Gerwen’s throw in the sixth leg and managed to keep his lead despite the best efforts of his opponent, who sensationally hit a 170 finish for the third consecutive match.
“This feels amazing,” said van Barneveld, who had earlier seen off Andy Hamilton to reach his first final since 2010.
“Michael is a future World Champion and he could be the best player in the World.
“I was really tired after my semi-final but everything has been brilliant since.
“I’m really emotional to be holding this trophy. I’m on top of the world.”
van Barneveld opened the final with a 180 as he took the first leg, despite ‘Mighty Mike’ also hitting his first maximum.
van Gerwen levelled on tops before throwing seven perfect darts in the third leg.
That nine-dart attempt was in vain, however, as ‘Barney’ took out 101 to hold.
van Gerwen drew level again before ‘Barney’ produced another brilliant finish in another leg where his opponent had hit a maximum, this time taking out 134 to take a 3-2 lead.
It was the senior of the two Dutchmen who grabbed the first break of throw, as van Barneveld cleaned up 25 to increase his advantage to two legs.
That became three when ‘Barney’ took out 70 for another break before van Gerwen’s fifth 180 helped him stem the tide, as he broke back immediately.
The 23-year-old pinned double five to reduce the deficit to 6-4 before taking out 122 brilliantly on the bull to move within a leg of his compatriot.
‘Mighty Mike’ missed three darts at double eight to level the match, allowing van Barneveld to restore his two leg cushion.
‘Barney’ slotted in his second 180 on his way to taking an 8-5 lead.
van Gerwen bedded double ten to take the 14th leg but not before van Barneveld hit his third maximum.
The five-time World Champion restored his three leg lead by hitting tops but van Gerwen came back at him, following a 174 by pinning tops.
The next three legs went with the throw, giving ‘Barney’ an 11-8 lead.
van Barneveld’s fourth maximum helped him hold to once again restore his three leg advantage before ‘Mighty Mike’ reduced it in sensational style, hitting his fourth 170 finish in his last three matches.
The in form youngster hammered home his eighth 180 as he followed that magnificent maximum checkout with a break of throw.
‘Barney’ broke straight back though, taking out 95 to lead 13-11 before a fabulous 110 outshot took him within two legs of the title.
van Gerwen took out 74 to hold but a brilliant 13 dart leg put ‘Barney’ on the brink of victory.
‘Mighty Mike’ kept the match alive when he took out 76 before bedding double seven to cut his opponent’s lead to a single leg.
van Barneveld wasn’t to be denied though, as he produced a brilliant eleven dart leg to seal victory and taste major glory once again.
By Chris Murphy
Images courtesy of Lawrence Lustig/PDC