Simon Whitlock's magic at Grand Slam
Simon Whitlock produced a miraculous comeback to win through to the knockout phase of the bwin Grand Slam of Darts last night with one of the tournament’s best-ever displays.
Australia star Whitlock – nicknamed the Wizard of Oz – was staring a Wolverhampton exit in the face when he trailed Gerwyn Price 4-1 in his must-win final group match.
However, Whitlock took out an incredible two maximum 170 checkouts during his comeback to win in a deciding leg as he booked a last 16 spot.
“I never give up, it’s part of who I am as a person,” said Whitlock, who averaged 108.86 to Price’s 104.58 in a high-class affair.
“I’m feeling so relieved to get through after that crazy game, it felt amazing to see the two 170s to go in. I’m feeling good at the moment and I want to keep this feeling going.”
Whitlock’s win means an early elimination for last year’s quarter-finalist Durrant, who suffered a 5-4 defeat to Andrew Gilding earlier in the evening despite averaging 104.98.
In Group H, already-qualified World Champion Rob Cross sealed top spot with a 5-2 win over already-eliminated Ryan Searle.
Stephen Bunting completed a clean sweep in Group G with a 5-1 defeat of Scott Mitchell.
Austria’s Mensur Suljovic also qualified from Group G, despite losing 5-4 to German youngster Martin Schindler in their tie.
The group stage concludes tonight with the remaining eight matches, headlined by a must-win tie for reigning champion Michael van Gerwen against Joe Murnan.
Gary Anderson and James Wade, who have already qualified for the knockout stage, play eliminated duo Steve Hine and Mark Webster respectively.
Ian White plays Germany’s Michael Unterbuchner in a winner-progresses tie, while Keegan Brown and Wesley Harms contest another shoot-out.
Jonny Clayton, who overcame Van Gerwen on Sunday night, plays Gary Robson, while 2012 champion Raymond van Barneveld take on unbeaten Michael Smith in crunch clash in Group B, where Krzysztof Ratajski takes on Adam Smith-Neale.